Why Social Media must be used as more than just a marketing channel…
Where do you turn to first if you have a problem or a question about a brand? Today, for 31% of us, it’s social media. Therefore, it would be naive for any brand to think of social media purely as a marketing process as it is now an interactive conversation platform. Consumers expect the online presence of a brand to be tailored to the individual platform, whilst maintaining the brands offline standards. Consumer behaviour is evolving much faster than many brands are adapting…
According to research by NewVoiceMedia, the fact that a whopping 93% of consumers (in a year) will switch brands due to poor customer service, it is a huge concern that fewer than 50% of companies are actively responding on social media platforms. Even within the 50% that are, some of them are just cutting and pasting responses and failing to tailor replies to each individual person and problem.
If your brand wants to maintain high standards of customer service (which every brand should) they wouldn’t train shop floor or call centre staff to ignore customers, or simply instruct them to reply with a generic response. So why do it with social media? When a consumer experiences poor customer service on social media EVERYONE will see it. Gone are the days when disgruntled consumers will tell just a few friends, today they can post it all over social media. In many cases poor customer service can even go viral.
What is expected?
Recent surveys have suggested that customer expectations are high, so why are so many brands continually failing? For example, consumers expectations for responses on Facebook are within the day and on Twitter within a maximum of 30 minutes. So in order to maintain and grow your customer base, brands need to ensure that customer service on a social media platforms is a priority and not just an afterthought. It needs to be swift, appropriate, personal and consistent and sound REAL. Real means natural, funny, clever, keeping to company policy. Cineworld, responded quickly to this customer query, the customer didn’t perhaps get the answer they wanted, but they did get a clever and fair response.
Remember if you know there is a problem across the brand that customers need to be aware of, announce it on these channels before the consumers come to you, be proactive and be informative. Research by Avaya states that51% of consumers will actually trust the response they get from a company’s forum or social media channel more so than they would any other (non-face to face) channel, confirming the affect ‘doing it’ properly will have for your brand.
High levels of customer service from a brand are now seen as a standard that needs to be met for everyone. Great customer service on social media channels IS achievable. It just needs to be integrated and tailored on to the channels and regulated. There are lots of tools available to monitor customer service on social media, including some which work with ‘humans’ to identify problems even if your company isn’t tagged on Twitter.
Without turning this into an essay our brief summary of social media and customer service integration has enforced the basic message that ultimately, brands need to realise that social media isn’t JUST about marketing or simply having a brand presence. Social media is a platform for the following; marketing, customer service, integrating your brands offline image online, and maintaining the same customer relationships as you would do offline. If you can’t have 24/7 social media customer service teams, then at least cater for the hours when users should expect a quick response. Effectively using social media as a customer service channel is beneficial to your brand both short and long term. Maintaining customers is largely down to increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Just like a consumers expectations, social media is constantly changing and evolving, staying on top of it, or getting ahead can be hugely beneficial for customer service across your brand.