Social media platforms continue to play a key role in customer engagement and, further, the reputation and success of brands that adopt them. From searching for product information in-store on smartphones to tweeting service requests, customers are not only showing an increased demand for engagement on these channels but inciting brands to change the way they use them to meet customer needs. J.D. Power & Associates found that 67% of consumers have used a brand’s social media sites for service, while Gartner reported that failing to respond to existing customers on these channels can lead to a steep 15% increase in churn rate. To fully engage with customers, brands must use a strategic, comprehensive, and often innovative approach with these six proactive principles.
Monitor. Customers may be commenting on brands or reaching out in ways a company may not even detect by merely checking tweets or a Facebook wall. While Twitter and Facebook hashtags make it easier to know when a brand or its products or services are being mentioned by name, advanced social listening tools more thoroughly identify and assess the copious amount of unstructured Internet data that may contain keywords reflecting a brand. With such tools, brands may monitor their strengths and weaknesses, using such feedback to improve customer service. For example, companies can track problems with their products and services as customers discuss them in real-time. By being alerted to possible issues as they arise, companies can take a proactive approach and prevent issues from growing into more serious situations.
Listen. Listening to customers on social media goes a step beyond monitoring. This principle reflects the idea of agents patiently welcoming an explanation of a customer’s issue on a social channel (literally, attentive listening) to solve cases one by one, as well as marketing departments listening in a more figurative sense to the global needs and wants of customers in their market. By truly paying attention to what customers are asking for, excited about, or tired with, brands can deliver superior customer service and devise stronger marketing campaigns for greater customer loyalty.
Respond. Social media moves fast, and no customer should be ignored as poor word of mouth and negative commentary can quickly turn into customer churn. Agents must make sure to respond to customer queries in full and in a timely manner, regardless of the channel. This also means responding to positive comments written by satisfied customers—saying “thank you” and acknowledging customers’ value to a brand are essential to long-term loyalty.
Initiate. When customers leave comments that bear potential for a conversation—expressing enthusiasm for a product, for example—customer service agents should take the opportunity to reach out to these customers. They may ask questions such as what exactly the customer liked best or if they are familiar with other products or services the brand offers. Giving service a personal touch is gratifying for customers, and engaging in conversation often yields further positive comments and retweets on social media which amplify a positive brand image and keep customers coming back for more. In addition, proactively seeking customer opinions on products and services and even including them in product development (think, fan favorite voting) are great ways to show customers that your brand values customer tastes.
Share. Customers like to know the story and vision of a brand, especially if it’s a groundbreaking or inspirational one. Indeed, a Nielsen study found that 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services of companies committed to advancing environmental and social causes. Companies should therefore share content reflecting the brand story (the origins of the company) along with relevant updates regarding participation in charitable causes, new products and services to come, and the like. In addition to brand content, it’s important to post external content from other sources than your brand to better inform and inspire your customers. Keeping them posted about industry trends with news articles or consumer reports, sharing interesting photos or videos, and sharing links to blogs are all great ways to engage with customers and present a global image of the brand.
Shift. With all the great benefits of social media channels, it’s also important to know how to use each one most efficiently—or sometimes, not at all. For example, if a customer initiates a service case on Twitter and the problem may be easily resolved on the channel with a short tweet exchange, the agent should aim to do so. However, when it becomes necessary to explore more difficult cases, agents should be ready to shift to another channel such as live chat or phone if they feel the issue will be resolved more quickly and efficiently.
Using a comprehensive and proactive approach, brands can maximize the benefits of social media by engaging customers and turning them into loyal brand advocates. Learn about Vocalcom social customer service software solutions.
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