Social media has gone from an idle curiosity to a mainstay in the lives of billions — ten years ago, much of what we consider social media didn’t exist, and the idea of using the nascent social media platforms of the time to interact with your customers was almost laughable. Today, there’s no escaping it — every modern business must be involved on social media. And, depending on who you ask, you should probably at least have a presence on every major platform.
This is necessary for a reason — the modern customer expects to be able to contact you for customer service issues via social media.
Consider these statistics from Social Media Today (source):
- 1 in 3 social media users prefer social media customer care services to telephone or email
- An estimated 67% of consumers now use social media networks like Twitter and Facebook to seek resolution for issues
- Customers spend 20%-40% more with companies that engage and respond to customers via social media
- Nearly 70% of consumers have said that they have used social media for issues to do with customer service on at least one occasion
When we talk about customer retention, we can say for a certainty that providing excellent customer service should be your top retention tactic — period. Nothing ensure immunity against churn as intensive customer service work.
Don’t believe me? I’ve got more statistics for ya from GetFeedback (source):
- 67% of consumers list “a bad customer experience” as one of the primary reasons for churning
- 95% of consumers have taken action as a result of a bad experience
- And of those consumers, 85% wanted to warn others about doing business with the company
- 50% of consumers would use a company more frequently after a positive customer experience
- 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience
Seriously, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Read the rest of that article — for more incredible statistics. If you want to retain your customers, you need to provide excellent customer service, and in the modern age, that means providing that service on social media.
Here are the tactics you need to make that happen.
Responsiveness and Comprehensiveness are Your Two Greatest Tools
Before we really jump into these two tactics, “responsiveness” and “comprehensiveness,” let’s take a step back and do a little thought experiment. Ask yourself this — why do you think customers turn to social media for customer service issues?
I think you have a variety of reasons:
- For some customers, this is just normal and what makes sense to them — these are generally younger customers, but not necessarily. They’re so digitally involved that they simply wouldn’t think to call or go into a store first — their instinct is to use social because they expect an instant response
- For some customers, this is a reaction because of frustration with traditional channels — these customers have already attempted to email and call, or even go into a store in person, and the response has been bad, or they’ve gotten lost in a phone tree
- For some customers, this is the easiest route — they know that other methods exist, but they figure they will get a faster response this way
All of these customers have one thing in common — they’re looking for a quick response. The modern customer who contacts a business on social media is expecting an almost-instantaneous response.
Tactic Number 1 — Be Responsive
Being responsive means replying as soon as possible. This is tough, especially for small businesses who can’t afford to pay someone to be on social media all day. For larger businesses, this is par for the course — your community manager(s) or social media manager(s) are going to be professionals who know how this stuff works, who understand the importance of being responsive. The main thing here is to be fast —really fast. For instance, Facebook only gives you the “very responsive to messages” badge if you respond to 90% of messages within 15 minutes. No matter how people are contacting you or what platform they’re contacting you on, they’re going to expect a swift response — that’s half the reason they’re contacting you via social media in the first place.
Fifteen minutes isn’t bad, think of it like this — if your customers called you and they were on hold for 15 minutes, would that be acceptable? For most businesses, that would not be OK, and there would be continual apologies and messages explaining the long wait. Don’t make people wait on social, no matter the platform — if you’re responsive and quick, you will be providing a level of customer service that the modern digital consumer has come to expect.
Tactic Number 2 — Be Comprehensive
The second tactic is to be comprehensive — comprehensive in your responses, in your explanations, in your interactions, in your answers, in your comments, in your thanks — in everything. What you see most often on business social media accounts is a distinct lack of comprehensiveness. When someone shares their post, they respond like this:
When they go to interact with someone else’s post, they interact like this:
When they get a message from customer that says “I have a very serious problem — I have no internet in my area. Do you know why that is?” They say:
And then, a few minutes later:
When a customer says “Do you have any more of your widgets for sale? My grandson really wants one for Christmas.” They say:
“All out! Sorry!”
All of these responses are subpar. They’re so abrupt, they come off as rude. Remember, on social media, you don’t have all the tonal cues you get from a phone conversation or all the non-verbal cues you get from an in-person conversation. You have only the words, and when you use very few words, it’s very easy for your message to be misinterpreted.
This applies to every platform. Don’t just answer someone’s question — give them as much information as possible. If you need to take some time to find an answer, tell them how much time. Check back in with them regularly to let them know you’re working on an answer. If you’re commenting or replying to comments, make those comments long, well-thought-out answers. Look at your public interactions on social media as a form of content — make it just as awesome and comprehensive as anything else you’d write.
Brevity might be fine for Hemingway, but on social media, it’s deadly — the less you write, the more your customers have to fill in the blanks, and believe me, they won’t be forgiving when they have to do so. They will always assume the worse — give them enough information so that they can hope for the best.
Treat Your Interactions on Social Like an In-Person Conversation, Phone Conversation, or Email Interaction
The biggest mistake most businesses make on social media is to treat it like it’s some crazy form of communication that they can just not take seriously — and that’s foolish. Just like any traditional form of communication, including email, you have to be quick and thorough in your answers. Treat each interaction like you would some of the forms of communication you’re more familiar with, do more instead of less, and your customers will walk away happy.
But social media is no longer the most cutting-edge form of communication available to you — read Adebisi Adewusi’s article to learn more.