Use Social Media as a Customer Service Platform This Holiday Season

by Kim Speier November 30, 2015
November 30, 2015

Social media monitoring is often overlooked by business owners and marketers, who tend to focus their time on posting interesting, relevant content for followers. But what do you do when you get a notification that someone mentioned your brand in a not-so-friendly tweet? Or when someone tags you in their latest Facebook rant?


Unfortunately, the majority of businesses try to pretend that the complaint never even happened, particularly on Twitter, where it can be difficult to keep up with the high volume of tweets being shared every minute. 70% of customer complaints on Twitter go ignored – that’s a lot of people that could potentially continue sharing negative press about your company with their family, friends, and social media followers.


Around the holiday season, the importance of social media monitoring is amplified even more. From a down website or slow checkout to items being out of stock or outrageous shipping costs, shoppers have a laundry list of potential issues that could slow them down in the midst of the holiday frenzy. And chances are they will consult social media to ask questions or air their grievances rather than calling a 1-800 number or visiting a store in person. So it’s essential that you’re ready and waiting to address these situations.


Negative experiences spread like wildfire

I don’t think the age-old saying “Bad news travels fast” could have ever predicted the world we live in today. Consumers are using social media much like a digital therapist. Sharing positive or negative reactions to a company’s latest marketing campaign, product launch, or announcement, users seem to feel some sort of comradery with their fellow shoppers.


Generally speaking, it’s the negative experiences that get more facetime. Nearly half of customer service-related comments on social media are negative, and nearly 100% of people admit that they’ve shared negative feedback about a company through some sort of communication channel (social media, word of mouth, etc.). And with four out of five people saying that their friends’ social media posts impact future buying decisions, there’s a lot of potential harm that can be done here.


Psychologists call this negativity bias, where we tend to recall things more accurately and are more emotionally affected by things that are negative in nature. This means we are much more likely to remember a negative shopping experience than a positive one, and those that we tell about this experience are more likely to remember, too.


But it’s not all bad

The good news is that consumers do like to share positive experiences on social media, praise brands, or simply ask questions. And those that have a negative brand experience but receive some sort of response from the company are likely to share their appreciation online as well.


Going back to the earlier statistic that 70% of Twitter complaints go ignored, it’s important to note that of those 30% that are responded to, nearly ¾ of consumers are satisfied with the response. So even if you royally messed up someone’s order or a discount code didn’t work correctly, you still have time to make things right! Just taking the time to address the issue, apologize, and provide a simple solution can completely turn around a customer’s perception of your brand.


Around the holidays, things are bound to go wrong. You’re going to run out of the “hottest item of the season” or lose someone’s order in the mail. With the sudden jump in sales and traffic, it’s just going to happen. But the great thing is that most people are pretty forgiving, even though their patience during the holiday season is at an all-time low. So while you may have to work a little harder to satisfy the customer, all hope is not lost.


Being responsive to your social media followers shows that there’s a real person behind a Twitter or Facebook account, and that you’re not just churning out generic “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” responses to issues that arise. Social media users are on these networks to personally connect with their favorite brands, so putting in the extra effort to add personalization won’t go unnoticed.


How to prepare your team

Now that the holiday season is well underway, how do you prepare? The first thing you have to do is understand that it is physically impossible to please everyone and accept that there’s going to be a mistake or two made along the way. Once you realize that, you can look at the positives of being able to engage with customers on social media. Maybe there’s a shopper seeking advice or inquiring about when the next shipment of a particular item will be in. You can provide them with the information they need in a timely manner, while potentially helping out other customers who were wondering the exact same thing.


Social media monitoring is also a great way to see how your in-store employees are performing. If someone comments on how helpful your team at a specific location is doing, you can show your appreciation to those individuals and share this rewarding feedback with them. Finally, if there are any issues with your website, shopping process, etc., you’re likely to know about it pretty quickly through social media. This way, you can fix the issue right away and spread the word that any previous problems have been resolved.


When it comes to managing your social reputation, the top priorities should be paying attention to any mentions of your brand in tweets or posts and any comments left on your company’s posts. Comments are one of the best ways to see how people like a new product or promotion you shared. Any mentions of your brand should also be taken seriously, as anyone currently following that individual will see the message.


In both of these situations, a direct reply is necessary. Simply responding to the individual thanking them for their kind words or apologizing for an issue can go a long way, but asking them to send you a direct message or email takes it a step further. Don’t limit your response to a 140-character tweet or a short comment. This gives consumers a larger platform to communicate with you about anything positive or negative that is occurring. It can be difficult to handle a customer service issue when you’re not physically speaking to the individual, but listening to what they’re saying and constructing a sincere response will hopefully get you back in their good graces.


Aside from positive or negative feedback, many consumers interact with brands on social media simply to ask questions, with 35% of individuals falling under this category. This is where your team needs to be on point. Make sure that everyone responsible for social media management has all of the information they need to answer common holiday-related questions, like shipping and return policies. If you notice that you are receiving some common questions, these can serve as ideas for future blog posts or email marketing campaigns.


Social media doesn’t take the holidays off

It’s important to remember that social media doesn’t take a vacation. After hours, people are still buying your products and sharing their experiences online. So even though it’s not ideal to ask your social media manager or team to keep watch when they’re at home, it’s essential to do so. Consumers want to know that businesses are always available and listening when they need them.


Regardless of your current social media strategy, there’s no questioning that monitoring conversations around your brand is essential. People are spending their hard-earned money during the holiday season, so they want to know that the company they’re supporting is attentive and values their business. Whether they’re singing your praises, asking a question, or letting off some steam, it’s important that you’re present. But possibly the most crucial thing to remember is that you shouldn’t abandon these habits once you start taking down the decorations. Consumers always take note of responsive brands, and they’re more likely to buy from them, too.


 

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