Has your company been hit with the ‘slap’ of negative online social sentiment? Not long ago, the biggest fear you had when a customer was dissatisfied with your company’s service was that they would tell their friends about the experience until they forgot all about it.
Now you have to worry about those friends helping to spread the bad news with a simple click of the “Share” button. Are you kept awake at night by the fear that a disgruntled customer will tell all their friends about a bad experience and it will spread like wildfire via social media?
To make sure your business isn’t the next high-profile victim of a viral customer service complaint, make sure you observe the rules of engagement for social customer care.
Don’t Ignore the Rules of Social Customer Care!
The steps to protect your brand online aren’t complicated. Even online, there are rules of engagement. These are the top 5 social customer care rules you need to observe if you want to keep your company’s online reputation spotless.
1. Communicate Effectively
You must respond to every customer complaint online, period. It’s not just the affected customer watching; it’s their online friends and the broader social media community too.
While it is considered OK to use more casual language on social media than on other channels, this is not the case when handling customer complaints. Your representatives must show the highest level of professionalism.
To make sure your representatives online “stick to the script,” it’s important to ensure there is a script. This does not mean your customer service representatives should have a robotic reply to every customer comment or query. It means language that adheres to brand standards and an escalation tree to determine when to involve people at a more senior level in the company.
2. Listen Carefully and Respond Quickly
Every customer needs to feel that their complaint has been heard. There’s very little point in participating in social media if you are just going to ignore the feedback that is shared.
To make sure you’re not missing anything your customers are saying online, it’s important to make sure you’re paying close attention to your social media properties. If your business has more than a handful of locations, consider investing in a social media monitoring program to ensure any mention of your brand online, good or bad, is tracked.
The sooner you know about a complaint, the faster you can offer a measured response. Keep in mind that around 50% of Twitter social care users expect a response within two hours of posting. Studies show that no matter which social media medium a customer reaches out to you on, their expectations for quick support are high:
Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. Further, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. – Jay Baer, Convice & Convert
3. Keep Replies on Point
Responses to individual customer inquiries must be accurate and consistent. Customers get very frustrated when there is a different answer to their question on a different day from a different person.
Above all else, the response must be focused on what’s right for the customer, not the company.
If there isn’t a clear policy on a given inquiry, it’s important to take the discussion offline, get the correct answer, and get back to the customer right away. It’s also important to ensure that if someone else has the same problem a few days, weeks or months later, that they get the same response.
4. Remember We Are Only Human After All
Perhaps one of the greatest elements of social media is the ability to humanize a brand by infusing some personality in responses. Some companies use automated replies on their social channels. Automation is problematic for a couple of reasons.
First of all, everybody knows it’s a canned response. There’s no point in having an automated message tell a customer a representative will get back them within X hours. That’s a minimum standard these days!
Secondly, canned responses can have disastrous PR consequences, making a company appear dangerously insensitive or hopelessly clueless.
Artificial intelligence may be able to mimic human judgment someday, but we are not there yet. Your best bet when fielding inquiries from actual humans is to have the responses handled by real humans.
5. Go Above and Beyond
Yes, people will talk online, often ad nauseum, about a bad customer service experience. You know what else they will do? They will talk about good ones just as much, if not more.
The story of Joshie’s extra vacation days warmed the hearts of everybody who read it. The team at a hotel took a few pictures of a lost stuffed animal before sending him home, and the internet exploded in “awwww!”
You cannot reunite a lost toy and a heartbroken child every day, but you can do little things to surprise and delight a customer. It could be something as simple as looking up a phone number or recommending an alternative to an out-of-stock item, even if your store doesn’t carry it.
These little extras can add up to a big plus in the public perception of your company, and if staff is engaged it shouldn’t feel like extra work at all.
Final Thoughts on Social Customer Care
Social media customer care may seem like a lot of effort to address the online grumblings of a few unhappy customers, and you may wonder if it’s worth it. If you are thinking about ignoring one of these rules, consider this: 1 in 3 users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than telephone, and that number will only grow with time.
In other words, you ignore the rules of Social Customer Care at your peril!
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