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Gone are the days of being able to use social media just as a marketing tool for your business. The digital world has changed and customer experience is now as important as it ever has been and this article will help provide your business with 5 essential steps to improving your social customer service offering.
1) Delivering on Expectation
Although still present, customers are not necessarily using social media to complain loudly anymore, in fact, there's been a significant increase in customers using private messaging over public posts to query something. Rather than trying to protect your brand, you should try to meet the customer's initial expectations by addressing their concerns/query directly. Creating a meaningful conversation with the customer means you can gauge their expectations of what they're looking to get from their interaction with you. Use this information to your advantage and deliver on these expectations. You'll find that if you don't do this early on, the customer will move to public channels to complain.
2) Creating an Effortless Experience
We've all had those frustrating moments of calling a company, pressing 4 different options, all to be put through to the wrong person who has to transfer you from department to department just to get your questions answered. The beauty of social is that this rarely required, or if it is, it should be managed very differently. Social channels have developed into platforms where people want quick and simple information with just a few clicks of a button (or swipes of a screen).
Take time to map out your customer journey and take out any unnecessary steps. You may immediately ask for the customer's full name, address, and contact information before you even deal with the query at hand, however, there's a good chance you didn't need that information and have already got off to a bad start with your customer as you've provided the impression of autonomy (which nobody wants) over personality (which is what people love about social media). Even if you need to collect this information, a customer will be more willing to provide it if they know why you need it.
Whilst looking at the customer journey, look at where you're providing the customer to do more than is required. Instead of asking the customer to contact you tomorrow, arrange to contact them. Look at how easy it is to find your social media channels online, the customer will already be less than impressed if it's taken longer to find you than it takes to deal with their enquiry.
3) The Need for Speed
Year on year, the requirement for fast information is rising. The requirement sits with social customer service. 4 years ago, customers were happy waiting hours for a response, however, this has changed, customers want a fast, adequate and reasonable response. Don't look at the expectation of a response time as another pressure on your social operations, view it as an opportunity to impress! Improving your response time is easily the quickest way to improve your customer satisfaction—you'll quickly see how much customers appreciate a fast response. Look at your current response time, and challenge yourself to half it and half it again. To give an idea of an appropriate response time, most people expect a response within 1 hour, but aiming for under 30 minutes will set you up for the increasing expectations. Whilst you're working on this, you may also want to look at your operational hours. Your social media channels should be manned the whole time your business is open at a minimum. Many businesses take the smart move to go 24/7 for social media and it'll pay off!
4) Personalised Approach
Don't you just hate it when you speak to a business and they read from a script? If you hate it, it's likely your customers would too. There's nothing wrong with having standard responses for common questions, in fact, it's almost essential for most businesses to ensure consistency, however, it's important you remember that your customer is human and they want to talk to another human who can provide empathy and understand what they're trying to say.
As a basic, you should always use the customer's name in your conversation (first names for social media—it's acceptable). After this start to look at where your social media teams can inject that little bit of personality. Effective approaches include adding your name to the end of your message, using emoji's (it's a big thing, you've got to accept it) and having one person deal with the customer, not 4 different advisors. You need to empower yourself and your team to be people—real people, with real humour and the freedom to have a real conversation with customers.
5) Listen to your customers.
In the famous words of Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” This couldn't ring truer than the current state of social customer service. Businesses are so caught up in protecting their brand that they forget that the brand is nothing without the customer and it's your customer that creates the brand, you just shape it and add the logo. Listen to what your customer is telling you, and change it! You'll quickly see a very positive reaction if you make a change, even a small one, off the back of a customer comment.
When a customer complains, don't hide from it, embrace it! Think of it as an opportunity to show not just your customer, but the thousands of people watching what you can really do. Just because an interaction started with a negative impact on your image, it doesn't have to stay that way, you can turn it into a far more positive picture if you follow these 3 simple steps; listen, address and learn. By listening to your customer, addressing what their concerns and learning from your mistakes, you'll be well on your way to being a socially mature business.