With ever greater connectivity and more of us choosing to take part on social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter, many brands and companies are now using their own presence to provide a better customer experience. Others, however, are falling far behind, ignoring customer queries, failing to engage with those who want to reach out to them and damaging their presence online in the process. We have all seen the ‘ghost town’ Company pages with comments and complaints, perhaps because the page isn’t monitored or simply because the business doesn’t know how to handle the comments, these are left unanswered and the customers left to fester.
Customer Service on Social Media – It’s Good to Talk
The way business talks to customers has changed. Not only can your most precious asset contact you directly they can also complain to their friends, and everyone else who is listening in, helping to spread those good and bad words more easily than before the world’s companies became accessible on social media. If your business fails to respond then it will be noticed and you’ll quickly get a reputation for not caring.
One company in recent years that has certainly taken this on board is JetBlue Airways. When a customer recently complained in a tweet that their flight was delayed, the customer service department contacted them with their own message saying that if he provided the flight number they would look into it. And what’s more, they came back on Twitter with a timely update that kept the customer informed.
With any business things can go wrong and problems need sorting out. The difference these days is disgruntled customers are more likely to post a comment on Facebook than pick up the phone and call customer service. If you don’t reply it looks as if you don’t care. A number of larger companies now have a separate social media contact for their customer service and support which is manned constantly so they can get back to people as quickly as possible.
Starbucks go one step further and have an extra account that gives their customers the chance to put forward their ideas to help improve the company.
The reality is that customers now have high expectations of getting a response to their query on social media and nearly half expect a response within the hour. That can be anything from a question of how to use a product more effectively to a complaint about a particular service.
Brands and companies ignore this simple fact of life at their peril!
It’s strange that most companies know effective communication lies at the heart of customer engagement but still fail to use customer service on social media. This may be because they are set in their ways or don’t have the infrastructure in place to deal with such things. For any brand, customer service on social media is here to stay and a strategy for dealing with it will need to be developed.
British Airways came under fire recently when a disgruntled customer used a paid for Tweet to complain about their lost luggage. The message was seen by over 50,000 people but the company’s reply was to apologise for the delay and explain that their Twitter feed was only open during office hours. Their unhelpful message received an even more disgruntled reply for the customer which in turn was retweeted by 50 people to their personal followings.
Bad customer engagement in the world of social media is a problem that all businesses need to be aware of, whether they are large conglomerates or SMEs with a small following. On the plus side, good customer relations online can show that your company cares for its fans, will generally build greater trust and will also improve sales because you have answered queries in a timely and helpful manner.
Customer Service on Social Media
Top Tip: Do NOT, under any circumstances give n to the temptation of deleting negative comments and blocking the user – that kind of action will just fan the disgruntled flames and worse, you now can’t see the comments by your customer! Far better to resolve any issues in a calm, professional and helpful manner.
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