Social Customer Service 101

This article is taken from our original blog post entitled ‘What social customer service is and why you need it’ — you can view the original post here. In this version for Medium, we’ve edited it to give you just the juicy bits. Enjoy!

Why you need social customer service to help grow your business and what happens when it really works.

Communication with customers has evolved thanks to social media and not just through marketing or sales. For customer service, long helpline queues and clunky one-to-one support channels are making way for super-quick messaging and dedicated Twitter accounts. Early adopters and progressive teams have all learned the bottom line, that most customers just want a solution to their problem and they want it fast — in fact, at least 42% expect it instantly according to Conversocial.

Read our key read on why you should be encouraging social media at work

Callcenterhelper.com defines social customer service as, “the practice of extending a business’s existing service platform to include social media channels.” Communication is everything and just like relationships remain at the heart of social selling, so too they are for social customer service.

What are the benefits?

A lot like employee advocacy and social selling, social customer service makes sharing information and building relationships with many people much easier. You don’t always need to hold a customer’s hand when a helpful article or guide online can be just as effective. This lean toward self-sufficiency is why companies have put more emphasis and effort into their FAQ pages, as well as content elsewhere like on their social channels.

Social media has made the process much quicker. ‘Listening’ to what customers are talking about online provides both qualitative and quantitative insight in a fraction of the time that it can take for traditional market and customer research — at a fraction of the cost too. With this strategy, your understanding of your customers’ needs and behaviours will evolve as they do.

Helping customers online can be more satisfactory and cheaper, which is great for everyone involved. Customers don’t like queueing and on social media they don’t have to. 60% say they expect a response within an hour on social media, while 63% are satisfied with the time they that generally do wait — according to this infographic — we bet the same isn’t said of phone-lines. Solving a customer issue online is said to cost ⅙ of the cost compared to call centre interaction.

Buyers spend a large proportion of their journey researching online before they make a decision on choosing a company and its products. This is why it is also beneficial to be seen operating in their space from a customer service perspective. Social media allows companies to solve problems out in the open where potential suitors can see what a great job they’re doing! Research according to Bain & Company has also shown that when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more money with the company.

How: Proactive Vs Reactive

There is a wealth of information out there regarding methodology behind social customer service, not to mention some contradictory arguments as to which ones work better than others. Finding out which one works best for you is very subjective to your needs and capabilities.

However, we’ve boiled them down into two categories, proactive customer service and reactive.

Proactive social customer service is about future proofing for expected problems to be solved, something like an FAQ page works for this. When you listen to what your customers are frequently discussing and researching, it becomes easier for you to predict the future and create appropriate content that can be used numerous times without the need for human interaction. Content works wonders with humans too, social salespeople share company content with their networks to establish themselves as expert sources and the same can certainly apply to customer service teams as well.

Some companies now publish guides and other information in the form of content resources that are available in a library on their websites. This is another great vehicle for establishing a company’s expertise in their field and makes a great resource pool that employees can dip in and out of to share information effortlessly.

Reactive social customer service is the most easily recognisable. Examples of which can include, live chat, instant messaging on Facebook and responding to questions on Twitter. These do generally require human interaction but with less friction, for now at least until language learning issues are ironed out of AI. While we’ve already discussed the benefits of this, there are potential pitfalls if for example a customer has initiated a social media conversation to avoid a phone call only to be told that they need to call customer services. It is important to consider how you need to help your customers before planning your strategy around social customer care.

Conclusion

There is an underlying current that really excites us when we discuss topics like this, it’s that there is always an opportunity for a progressive and sometimes groundbreaking culture shakeup in businesses that can help sustain their future success. One where previously siloed departments and teams can work more efficiently together toward a single cause, to improve the customer experience.

Remember that open and positive relationships are the key to good customer service and that isn’t just a team in an office, it is everyone’s duty.

Think you’re ready to unlock your social power ? Download our free white paper now which features the 5 point plan to do so.

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