Have you ever thought about responding to customer comments in social media? If not, I encourage you to take the plunge. You’ll discover four great benefits.
1) Learn more about your customers (and use that to win their loyalty).
Your customers are already using social media, so why not meet them where they hang out online? You can read their profiles, learn from their posts and capture that information for future use. The more you know about their lives and needs, the better you can communicate with them and serve them (with products/ services). Look at the tips listed under item #3 below for ways to listen and find your customers online.
Plus, customers are likely already making comments online about your company. That means it’s a channel for you to respond to them, thank them, and remedy issues (or at least acknowledge them). Customers love to know you are listening, especially when they are in distress.
2) You can improve the conversation about your brand.
This is a very important point. Your customers are inadvertently defining your brand online, especially when your company is silent.
Keep in mind, future customers are likely to check social media before they buy from you. And they are going to be more likely to believe what’s on social media than what is on your website. Your voice needs to be heard.
Good news is, it’s been proven that when an organization participates in social media the overall tone, tenor and comments are elevated. This is because an organization’s comments, in addition to the customer comments from those you have helped or acknowledged, sends a more positive message overall.
3) When you respond in the customer’s preferred channel, you make a positive impression on them.
Here’s an example to illustrate my point. A few years back, I wrote a blog about a problematic car insurance claim I had with my insurance company. The insurance company called me and asked how they could help. I was impressed and delighted they cared enough to scour the web for customers in distress and respond. I told my friends about the company’s response.
Customers continue to demand easier ways to access customer service. They want you to respond in the channel of their choosing (i.e. Twitter, etc.). Customers also expect a timely response. Some reports show 30-40% of customers want a reply in an hour or less and the large majority want a reply within 24 hours. The demand for a speedy response will only continue to grow. So get your program in place now and you can address speed as your effort matures.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Make a list of your customers’ preferred channels. It might be Twitter, your Facebook page, your website contact page and beyond. (Think about where and how you hear from customers today. Think about what have you heard from customers about social media and their preferred channels.)
- Set up Google Alerts so you can see any time your company or product name is mentioned on the web.
- Then set up keyword tracking in Hootsuite. (Hootsuite is great tool for Twitter especially and can be used for free.)
While the concept of customer service delivered via social media might feel a bit overwhelming, you can’t afford to have unhappy customers poached by competitors. There are companies that monitor social media to poach customers. For instance, when I tweeted about struggles with my cable company, their competitor sent me a tweet to ask if I wanted to switch to their service. That’s a very savvy approach. So don’t wait any longer. Your competitors could be watching and swooping in. It’s much cheaper to keep an existing customer than replace a lost one. So make the effort now.
4) If you get started now, you could beat your competition and be prepared for the increasing demand for customer service delivered via social media.
It’s possible that, if you act now, you could get ahead of your competition in this regard. Even if you aren’t, now is the time to find the tools, time and resources to listen to social media. It’s not a small undertaking, but it’s an important one because it ties to so closely to customer retention and brand perception.
Start small. As I mentioned, check out Hootsuite to track keywords in Twitter and set up Google Alerts. Try listening and responding to customers with a small team (make sure to coordinate with customer service). Picking team members that understand the social web will save you time. Create a process that allows your small team to work quickly and respond to urgent customer needs. If you don’t already have a social media account in Twitter then create one that sounds human in tone and use that same tone in crafting customer responses. In most cases, a cold, corporate response is not what customers want. They want empathy and help.
Ready to give it a try? You just have to take the plunge and get started. The benefits surely make it worth it.
Have questions, comments, struggles? Please share below. I’d love to be of help.