With Facebook and Twitter being visited by billions of users each day, social media plays an increasingly important role in customer service and public relations for businesses around the world.
Social media platforms provide a public view of companies with the potential for instant feedback between brands and their customers. Advertising on social media and pushing branded, engaging content allows you to reach the people that matter. Virality can only be achieved on social channels where stories and conversations spread quickly and easily.
According to a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates, 67% of consumers use social pages for service, while only 33% use these same pages for social marketing.
So what does this mean for developing customer relationships online?
For a brand to develop a positive relationship with its customers through social media, it is important to remember two things:
- Response times should be as quick as possible
- Response rate should be as high as possible
While it is nearly impossible for every business to be available to their customers 24/7 on social media, it is important to respond to customers as quickly as possible—whether the customer comment is positive or negative. The worst possible response to a disgruntled customer is silence. If 24/7 service is not a possible solution, be sure to post clear times of service, so customers can know when to expect an answer.
It is a good idea to develop a separate social media page and profile for customer service. This allows a dedicated customer service representative to focus on responding to inquiries and complaints, while the social media marketer can focus on building the brand through advertising and content strategy.
Customer service representatives should aim to be as clear, direct, and friendly as possible when responding to customers online. The more personal, the better. Representatives should introduce themselves, or at least use their initials. On social media, a personal touch goes a long way in making a customer feel valued.
In addition to responding quickly and helpfully, brands should be seeking out customer complaints and questions through indirect mentions of their products and brands. On Twitter, hashtags and “@” mentions can be searched and monitored to discover potential problems. This can be helpful in answering questions and mediating concerns before they become larger issues.
Brands can also recognize trends in complaints or concerns with competitor companies and offer solutions and alternatives to disappointed customers—increasing the potential for gaining a new customer by stepping in and offering an immediate solution to their current complaint.
Customer relations on social media should be as user friendly as possible. If a customer tweets an issue or complaint, use Twitter DMs to interact and solve their complaint. If at all possible, remedy the situation without the need for another channel. Suggesting a customer contact a support email address mid-conversation will only stress the issue further.
By offering speedy, engaging responses to customer complaints (and compliments) via social media, companies can get a leg up in retaining disappointed users and cultivating new relationships. Social media is inherently public, which provides all the opportunity in the world for a company to interact one on one with the people that matter most—their consumers.