Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube have emerged as strong online players influencing the way customer service is provided. From watching informational videos to venting customers spreading the word of your company (good or bad), these sites have changed the way consumers interact.
Social media sites, blogs, online social communities, and wikis have all increased pressure on companies to provide excellent customer service. If a customer has a negative experience on a companies website, it is weighed just as heavily as if that experience happened in person. Just one instance of a bad customer experience can be detrimental to the brand identity of the company, especially when these experiences find their way on social media websites, online communities, or customer forums. When something negative occurs, the easiest wayfor customers to blow off steam is to turn to various social media outlets. Because of the growing popularity of online mediums, upset costumers that vent have the capacity to negatively impact business world wide.
Today however, companies canleverage social media and customer service to get ahead in the game. As mentioned before, more and more consumers are turning to the online realm to meet their shopping and browsing needs. If a company has an effective website and an efficient customer service presence online, they will quickly rise as a top choice in the eyes of their customers. Social media can help companies obtain insights of customer interactions that could help companies in their product development department and in their strategic decision making.
A study conducted by the Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) states, “59 percent of respondents say they regularly use social media to “vent” about their own customer care frustrations.”
Listed below are some keys areas to focus on in helping companies reach their overall goal of providing superior online customer service:
Provide Ubiquitous Customer Service
As more and more customers prefer online communication, it has become imperative for companies to provide customer services through multiple outlets such as email, online chat, and web self-service. These tech-savvy online customers are active on various online discussion forums, social networking sites, and blogging sites. Customers can easily share their opinions, bad experiences, and reviews on sites like these, which can be damaging to company’s brand image. If companies can provide a uniformed approach to customer service, they can create a strong customer base which could potentially increase revenue. When customers experience the same level of customer service as they would in a traditional business, their confidence and overall perception of the company builds. In turn, when people are confident and have positive experiences, they are more likely to share those experiences through word of mouth.
Monitoring Social Media Activities
In order to judge customer sentiments and what customers are saying, companies should utilize some of the latest tools and software that allows access to crucial information about what their customers are talking about. By having the ability to monitor various social mediums, companies can lay their hands on customer’s perceptions about a companies brand image, products & services, and the quality of customer service offered. This crucial insight within customer behavior patterns can assist companies in formulating strategic responses that may bolster customer engagement and quickly solve their problems. More and more companies are beginning to create their own social media accounts which are good, but, if companies are not actively monitoring what people are saying about them on these sites, then they could be missing huge opportunities for customer satisfaction improvement.
Provide Hosted Social Network Platform
Companies who believe in providing quality customer service can go that extra mile and host their own independent Web 2.0 community for greater online visibility. If done right, it can potentially provide higher customer interactions and can assist with receiving direct feedback from customers. Such interactive platforms enable customers to comment on services and products offered by a company, give ratings, write reviews, and share perspectives directly with the company. Companies have the ability to be proactive instead of reactive to solve a customer’s problems and grievances.
Creation of social media sites have formed open, immense challenges, for companies who want to provide quality customer services on all channels. Companies can successfully leverage customer insights and bring positive changes in the minds of their customers about their product and services. By following the three steps listed above and taking an active role in your companies online presence, all the “venting” done by your customers will prove to be positive and beneficial.