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Improving Your Customer Service Through Social Media

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Published: November 4, 2014

The average consumer spends more 3 hours a day with at least one social media network, and businesses are increasingly viewing social media as one of the most effective vehicles to “get in front of where the customers are.” Marketers of every size and description are using social media to stay engaged with current and prospective customers by providing helpful and entertaining news and ideas as well as to improve search engine rankings and increase website traffic.

An estimated 50 percent of U.S. consumers use social media channels to raise questions and air complaints about product purchases. Along with the opportunity that businesses have to use social media to communicate with customers on a 24/7 basis comes the responsibility to quickly provide a high-quality level of customer service on demand.

What Are Your Customers’ Expectations?
Consumers realize that the web is a 24/7 medium, and they expect your social media channels to be able to respond accordingly.

  • Research studies have found that 42 percent of consumers expect a response to questions and issues posted to social media accounts within one hour.
  • An estimated 57 percent believe that a company’s response time should be the same for nights and weekends as it is for normal business hours.
  • Negative sentiments will be fostered by 38 percent of those consumers who do not receive a timely response to an issue posted to a company’s social media account.
  • Of those customers unable to resolve their issue through social media, 40 percent will contact the company directly.
  • The average Facebook response time of the Top 100 U.S. Retailers is 24 hours.
  • The average Twitter response time of the Top 100 U.S. Retailers is just over 11 hours.

Clearly, businesses have a long way to go towards closing the gap between customer expectations and actual customer service delivery through social media. Companies need to monitor their social media profiles closely and respond to customer care issues as soon as possible.

How to Use Social Media to Improve Customer Service
Be as visible and reachable as you possibly can. You need to be active on the social networks most frequented by your customers. The key word here is active. If you’re unable to make a commitment to regularly monitor and engage with your audience across a number of social networks, you’re better off sticking with a smaller number of networks where your available resources can really make an impact.

When a customer reaches out, respond as quickly and completely as you can. If your business cannot maintain a dedicated 24/7 social media presence, you should communicate your available hours for providing customer assistance.

Encourage feedback. Listen to the conversations about your company and your products, and be prepared to respond quickly to positive as well as negative comments.

Know what you’re talking about. Your social media team should be well-trained in your company and its products if they’re going to be able to walk customers through problems and issues.

Treat each negative complaint as an opportunity. Some of your best customers are going to come from the ranks of those whose complaints were resolved and attitudes turned around by your prompt and fair handling of the issues. Remember that prospective customers will be watching to see how you respond under public scrutiny.