Customer service is at the core of effective social media marketing. The beginning of effective customer service is listening to your customers and prospects, but more than that, it’s showing that you’re listening by responding. Even further, it’s responding in real-time that delivers the message of responsiveness, authenticity, priority and that the your connections are important. Taking it all the way to an end game, proper social media customer service actually results in sales, WHEN DONE RIGHT.
Don’t believe it? Here’s one example of the right idea that misses the mark.
(I apologize early in the post for the numerous graphics, but I felt it was important to show actual threads and engagement that depict the points we are covering.)
Last week I had some tire trouble. Specifically, I had a leak in one of the rear tires and had to get it resolved because it would no longer hold pressure. I tweeted about it and headed off to Les Schwab to get it handled. As usual, Les Schwab (on site) has fabulous customer service and quickly removed the nail and got me on my way after pointing out another issue with my front tires. With no time to have the front tire issue handled that day, I got back to the office to get back on schedule.
Later that day, another Oregon tire company jumped in to check on me via Twitter. Being a social media professional I really dig attentive brands and eagerly responded about the situation. I loved that they were watching for opportunities that make sense to make a connection, but my enthusiasm didn’t last.
They took three days to respond to my reply and dropped me like I was hot. No attempt to be better than another option close to me, offer alternatives or pursue a relationship or a sales opportunity. They just bowed out altogether.
To make matters worse, Les Schwab never responded at all. In fact their Twitter account is completely inactive and never responds to anyone. What missed opportunities to make connections with customers and prospects. What missed opportunities to stand out and get a sale. Needless to say, I will not be buying tires or having my alignment done at either of these companies.
Customer service within social media is too often NOT matching a brands brick and mortar reputation or intent. A fail any way you slice it that does not achieve social selling.
An article entitled “Customer Service as a differentiator” last week about our customer service was published by another one of our users and sparked a pretty interesting comment thread from one reader. They seemed to have a pretty negative and misguided view of customer service that many may share. It badly needed a response and of course we responded. Are you responding to comments on blog posts that reference your brand? You should be, as they represent incredible opportunity to show ways you are different.
Our brand is constantly listening AND responding online. Whenever we are mentioned as a part of a discussion, we do not delay in responding, offering assistance and showing our authentic brand. When someone expresses interest in what we do, is referred by one of our users or is having an issue, we do not take it lightly. Review the following thread to get a good idea of how this works and contemplate how you can replicate something similar in your social media marketing.
The results of approaching customer service in this fashion can clearly be seen. In less than an hour we had engaged a referral and helped them not only register for Bundle Post, but also got them setup and trained! Clearly people appreciate when you respond at the time they are there and not days later. In addition, sales, customers, referrals and an incredible reputation often result.
3 tips to amazing social media customer service:
1) Respond – Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it?” In social media customer service it’s more like “It is what you say and WHEN you say.” Listening and responding quickly has many benefits in social media marketing. Two of those benefits are 1) defusing frustration before it escalates and 2) striking while the iron is hot.
When someone mentions your brand in the social graph, they are doing so when they are logged in. Responding quickly ensures the conversation can progress fluidly since you already know the person is online. The sooner you respond to a customer or prospects comment, the greater the opportunity to be of service, resulting in a sale or a positive outcome.
2) Acknowledge – Like responding, acknowledging someone and their comment or concern goes a long way. You acknowledge by responding quickly. Offer resolutions, options and suggestions that address and acknowledge the comment the user had.
**Be sure to show empathy if it is a complaint!
3) Be Authentic – You have to really care and show it. If you or your brand does not have this real view at the core of your culture, it is really going to be challenging to show it.
As we stated in the comment thread of that earlier mentioned Bonus Example blog post from last week, “We approach our business from our experienced social media marketing perspective, combined with our real concern and relationships with our users. We have thousands you can ask if you care to. We do in fact love our users because they are all based on relationships. We aren’t some gear heads that decided to make some software for social media because it’s a hot industry.”
Customer service within social media is actually selling. Sales within social media marketing should also include a mindset toward effective customer service. Together they are powerful forces that lead to real measurable results. On their own, without working together they are often short-term or at least considerably less effective.