Jan 26, 2016

4 ways to deliver outstanding social customer service

The worth of social customer service

There has been a huge surge in big brands taking big steps to provide the best possible social experience for their customers.

Take Xbox, for example. Microsoft’s gaming console is going above and beyond in the social customer service game with its ‘Xbox Support Elite Tweet Fleet.’ So much so, that it earned the title of ‘Most Responsive Brand on Twitter’ by the Guinness Book of Records when it was first launched in 2010.

“When people are passionate and they use that kind of (foul-mouthed) language, a lot of times there’s legitimately something wrong with our service,” says McKenzie Eakin, Program Manager of Xbox LIVE Service Delivery (also known as @XboxSupport Elite Tweet Fleet Sky Captain).

He went on: “We swoop in, seemingly out of nowhere, and say, ‘No, we can help,’” Eakin says. “They’re like, ‘Whoa, proactive customer service out of nowhere. This is so cool.’ It’s a really magical experience and I think that in particular drives our through-the-roof customer satisfaction.”

What defines excellent social customer service?

According to one study, the success of the response is determined by 3 factors: (1) the speed of the response time, (2) the quality of the solution provided and (3) how the response is provided. The study described this last point as Hostmanship, i.e. how well you provide the human touch.

80% of companies believe they deliver ‘superior’ customer service, but only 8% of customers think the same companies deliver ‘superior’ customer service, which leaves a huge opportunity for brands to fine-tune their strategies and stand out with unique social experiences.

1. Shorten response times
Since 2013, brands have improved their response rate in by 143% on Facebook year on year. But why? Facebook is cracking the whip on brands that exercise poor social customer service by placing information on average response time and rate in the top left hand corner of their social media profiles, so that their fans can see their true commitment to their fan base.

So how fast does your social community expect you to respond?

32% of social customers expect a response to a social complaint within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes, according to one piece of research. What’s more, 40% of unresolved social complaints resulted in phone calls. Whilst improving response times may not necessarily result in the issue being resolved right away, its shows the customer in question that their complaint is at the forefront of your mind.

Taking an extended period of time, or even worse, ignoring complaints on social can have huge repercussions on your social reputation, thus creating a gap between your online customers and your ability to provide good customer experiences.

2. Have a system in place
Whether you have five employees or 500, having a system in place to deal with social complaints is key to successful community management.Having a company-wide document that any member of staff can refer to while managing disgruntled customers on social media is key to creating a cohesive and effective experience for both community managers and customers.

Firstly, you will need to gather all potential issues or questions that customers may ask about and create a spreadsheet of responses that can be referred to at any time. Not only does this encourage consistency in answers, but it also saves time for community managers.

Secondly, you will need to define what constitutes as low-, medium- and high-alert social complaints. Each will need their own procedure on how it is dealt with in order to minimise the risk of the issue attracting further attention on social media.

71% of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, so planning is key!

3. Venture outside your brand pages
Did you know that 30% of tweets including company names don’t include their Twitter handle, and only 9% of tweets mentioning a company are directed at the company?

As mentioned previously, identifying a potential issue early is the key to reducing amplification for the complaint, demonstrating that your brand genuinely cares about customer service.

Luckily, there are several things you can do in order to source negative brand sentiment for your business. Set up Google Alerts for key words related to your business, so that you can receive daily emails on what is being said about your brand online.

Along with Google Alerts, invest in a social media monitoring tool that allows you to track hashtags associated with your brand, so that you can keep an eye on any tweets that are indirectly aimed at your brand.
Putting these actions in place provides your brand with the perfect opportunity to surprise and delight followers by demonstrating that you are keen to address their criticism.

4. Be human!
Where it is common practice for customer service to take a corporate approach when managing customer complaints on the phone, social media gives brands an opportunity to show their online communities exactly who they are dealing with. Many brands are now choosing to sign off messages with the community manager’s name or initials, showing the customer that they are dealing with a real person and not a faceless corporation.

Dutch airline KLM takes the human approach one step further with their #happytohelp hashtag campaign when handling social enquiries. KLM has even built a special “command centre” for the campaign at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, with additional teams assisting in New York, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong. Now we’re not saying that your brand should go and build a new department dedicated to social customer service, but it’s something to aspire to, right?

Want to know more about crafting a successful community management strategy? Check out how UK Gym chain The Gym Group increased their Facebook audience growth by 368% since 2012.

Develop a detailed understanding of key social media specialisms including content marketing, and platforms on which you can promote your content.

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