Customers are becoming more active in the online space for a variety of reasons such as shopping, social & business networking, online transactions, researching products or services, and booking travel. With consumers increasingly engaged online, their expectations on receiving instant and quality customer services at various touch points has also risen. Online retailers are finding unique ways to provide high quality and instantaneous service for a variety of customer problems through social media.
According to a recent survey of worldwide online shoppers conducted by Oracle, 46% of the online users expected companies to provide customer support services through social networking sites like Facebook, 29% wanted companies to provide customer service through a company blog, while 17% expected companies to provide customer service through Twitter accounts. There are several ways in which companies can effectively use the power of social media and customer service to provide a great customer experience.
Provide a Platform for Customers to Express Their Opinions
Despite best efforts to provide the high quality products, there are times when consumers will not be satisfied with the product. Today many consumers will publicly display their frustration on various social media platforms. Social media provides disgruntled customers an easy and accessible medium to vent their irritation in real-time. According to a new study from the Society for New Communications Research, 59% of respondents said they use social media to “vent” about a customer-care experience. To better monitor complaints and possibly turn them into positive experiences, many companies have created a company page on social media sites where customers can communicate feedback, both positive and not so positive. This strategy provides an opportunity for companies to take immediate measures to correct negative experiences. In the absence of an official company page on a social media site, many consumers will find other options to post complaints. Options include their own profiles, communities, or other forums which can go unseen by the company and create a negative brand image.
Responding to consumer complaints and resolving issues quickly can spread a positive image for a company. Satisfied consumers can go viral with their positive experiences and even recommend a company due to the excellent customer service provided. Presence of a company through online social media websites, forums, company blogs, communities, directories, etc helps in easy sharing of positive customer service experiences benefiting both consumers and the company.
Leverage Existing Customer Base
Good companies come with a following of loyal customers; often this customer base is large. These customers can be leveraged by asking them to ‘like’ the company page or profile or share information about the company forum or community on social media sites to cascade awareness of a company’s customer support on social media sites. Companies can also create custom solutions for their profile pages, forums, groups, and communities to help customers with self servicing. This will not only help bring down customer service costs but also help spread a positive image about the company.
Social media sites and micro blogging sites such as Twitter allow users to instantly post a message. Many companies have implemented strategies that monitor for any customer complaints, even if the company account name is not mentioned in the post. Companies can increase their brand value if they proactively talk with the customers who are posting any type of complaints or positive comments.
According to the survey ‘Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012: A Global Perspective’ conducted by Oracle, 31% of respondents believed that having direct access to customer service representatives or product experts is important for them to connect to the company via social media. 43% said they connected with companies to get direct response to their questions.
As a part of the customer service strategy involving social media, companies can suitably reward users who act as brand ambassadors and influence other customers by spreading positive information about the company. Rewards can be simple like advanced notification of a promotion, special invitations, asking for a free company visit, etc.
In order to create an impressive customer experience on social media, companies are creating engaging and unique solutions, apps, text, and much more for their company pages, forums, groups, and social communities. By implementing a progressive social media strategy, businesses can cost effectively provide information, contact their virtual customers real-time, receive real-time voice of the customer feedback, and help solve or at least address the frustrations their customers might encounter.
Ensure Quick Action
No matter the sector the company operates in, a quick approach to solving consumer questions promotes a positive customer experience like nothing else. Action can be in any form such as replacing a spare part, giving a refund, resuming services, sending a technician, and much more. There are some companies who dedicate full time employees to monitor the web and social media sites for any consumer complaints or questions about the company. These employees can directly contact customers, resolve their issues, and provide real-time satisfactory solutions.
Companies that maintain an efficient customer support system through social media can reap great benefits in the form of reduced costs, increased credibility, and greater visibility into online customers. However, it is important to remember that while social media development is bringing around some exciting new opportunities to better serve customers, the fact is that any company must still maintain and develop strong traditional customer service channels such as voice, email, and chat.