Social Customer Service: How to Make Your Ideals Reality

Engaging with your users and customers on social media is an easy, cost effective way of gaining brand awareness and loyalty. Most companies have already realised this. What is therefore quite an interesting fact is the gap between the ideals and the actual initiatives of companies, when it comes to providing customer service through social media.

A Social Media Today, Pivot and SAP research based on the survey completion of 578 respondents, The Social Customer Engagement Index 2012: Results, Analysis and Perspectives shows that even though 71% of the companies in the research use social media for customer service, a staggering 41% of them handle less than 5% of their customer service issues via social media.

 

Social customer service?

In a world of online interaction, having a direct dialogue with a brand has more or less become a basic consumer demand. Especially if a brand has taken the step of being on social media. The immense profits of being on social media have dawned on most companies by now – but somehow a vast number of brands still haven’t figured out how to benefit fully from the possibilities that lies within social media. Maybe because they are still a bit timid towards the public aspect of being on social media? Maybe because they just haven’t felt the need to prioritize it yet? Either way, with 1 billion active users on Facebook alone, companies still have a lot to gain from social media.

 

The research

In the research, it is concluded that the enthusiasm for providing social customer service has grown within the past year. However, the research also concluded that the good intentions of the companies were not aligned with the reality of their social customer service performance:

 

  

 

Out of the 45.2% of respondents who said they had integrated social customer service with their traditional channels of customer service, a huge 38.4% of these companies would answer questions on social media on an ad-hoc basis without any procedures connected to the response flow. On the positive side, 34.4% of the companies would “review social profiles, use knowledge management, and other enterprise data to compose responses”. In 2011, despite the good intentions, 77.6% of the companies in the research invested less than $50,000 in social customer service. Combined with the fact that 17.7 % of the companies respond to more than 25% of the customer service issues via social media, it is however evident that only few companies have found their way to combining traditional customer service with social media while others still need to prioritise social in their customer service budgets.

 

 

How to profit through social customer service

If you want to succeed in social customer service and thereby profit from the cost effective paybacks it provides, you need to follow a few simple steps. Studying the report on the research as well as best practice cases within the field of social customer service, a few general ground rules have been identified:

  1. Create a personal, forthcoming and helpful tone of voice.
  2. Always respond quickly, efficiently and in the right tone of voice.
  3. Monitor social channels in order to stay updated on any potential issues your customers are experiencing with your company or products.
  4. Report, analyse and improve both the response process but also general product or company processes, if a majority of customers continuously experience the same problem. Monitor, report, analyse, escalate!

Some of these steps might seem obvious, but as the research has shown, even the most basic rules of customer service are not always transformed on to social media. Following are examples of how two companies have successfully managed to convert their customer service into social.

 

Best practice cases

In July 2010, the package delivery company UPS decided to use Twitter as channel of social customer service. They had discovered that “customer service” was the most debated topic amongst their customers and UPS needed to join the dialogue on social media. By providing quick, personal and efficient customer service via Twitter, the positive customers’ stories spread fast and far, helping to create a stronger brand image as well as being one of the best examples of great social customer service within a short period of time.

 

 

Another recent example of excellent, personal and relatable social customer service is the cool slang based responses from O2‘s tweeting customer service:

 

 

What brands with a strong social customer service profile have realised is that even bad customer experiences posted on social media channels can turn into a positive, profitable customer experience, if handled with care and the proper attention from the customer service team. An angry customer’s outburst can mean the opportunity of showing how much you care about your customers by providing a great, quick and personal service. When turning the angry customer into a happy customer on social media, you can be certain that the story will spread, hence leading to a potentially heightened brand image. So, there is not really any excuse for NOT providing your customers with the service they demand – on the media they prefer.

Is your company ready to fully commit to social customer service?

See the full infographic here and read the full report on the research here.

 

 

Clickbait: Information overload! How can brands cut-through all the noise?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.11.34You won’t believe the hidden message in this blog post! Or rather – there isn’t one, I just wanted you to click through and read this. But bear with me – I’m about to suggest something incredibly controversial – a never-heard-before admission by a social agency!*

As much as clickbait is the emotional catnip of our online experience and can drive consistent traffic for publishers like The Daily Mail and Huff Post who churn out multiple stories each day, it’s still hugely annoying to discover you’ve been duped by an over-excited headline promising to give you all the feels. For brands, adopting the same practice can negatively affect perception and ultimately – sales. So how can brands cut through all the sensational copy and deliver successful results without falling prey to creating clickbait themselves? How do they beat them rather than join them?

 

Platform crackdown

In the early days of social, Facebook optimised content based on engagement, meaning that if users clicked on a piece of content, it received a higher ranking in newsfeeds. In 2014 Facebook took steps to try and crack down on those gaming this ranking using clickbait, and in February this year it introduced an update based not just on what users engaged with in their feed, but what they wanted to see. Facebook’s advice is that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time – meaning the latest ranking favours content that users naturally engage with rather than content that users click on through coercion.

 

Last month Instagram followed suit and announced it would alter user’s feeds to optimise the content users “care about the most”, and Twitter has also adopted a similar change (although users can opt-out and revert back to the chronological feed). The changes will hopefully make it harder for clickbaiters to game feeds with meaningless content, but the real aim for the platforms hosting is to surface more engaging content more frequently so users return often and stay longer.

 

The same goes for brands on social. If the content they produce is consistently engaging, then users will interact more frequently, leading others to discover it through preferred ranking. Ultimately, these new newsfeed algorithms exist to generate more meaningful engagement, driving not just clicks, but conversations via comments, and shares.

 

Learn and adapt

Meaningful engagement begins with relevant content that creates value for the user and the brand. While an insight-driven content strategy is key to delivering this, brands should also adapt stories and messages based on the emotional needs and behavior of their audience. This is more than just a case of ‘test and learn’ or refining what has already been done. Brands must also evolve their approach in line with new behaviors, platforms, competitors and rankings or risk being left behind by those who do.

 

A good example of a brand that does this well is Buzzfeed, who’s CEO recently shared their new strategic thinking, revealing how their objective has changed from getting users to click through to their main site to view stories, to allowing content to be consumed directly on other platforms. The new direction was prompted by analysing which content generated clicks and discovering that users prefer to consume some types of content within the platform they are already on. The company also found a discernable difference between user interactions with the same content on different platforms, demonstrating how content demand and consumption vary across sites. What spreads like wildfire on Facebook might fail miserably elsewhere.

 

Relevance is key

For brands looking to use social content to drive click-through to their site, it’s important to balance the goal of the company (clicks to eyeballs, or conversions to sales, for example) with the desire and behavior of users on different sites, and monitor response over time. Relevance is key to interaction, and brands that think like publishers will know that relevance is an ever-changing chameleon. While users are bombarded with meaningless clickbait, there is ample opportunity for brands to channel the social zeitgeist by delivering valuable content that meets audience needs in the format, time and platform that suits them. If they get this right, they won’t need clickbait.

 

At Mindjumpers we help companies and brands to think as publishers and provide end-to-end social media management across multiple markets, encompassing full social strategy, planned and reactive content creation, analysis and reporting.

 

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

 

*Don’t be naughty and scroll to the last paragraph – I’ve hidden the controversial part somewhere to optimize your dwell time in finding it!