Today’s consumers are no longer satisfied with calling an automated 1-800-number to access a brand’s customer service department. Instead, they have become accustomed to having the option to utilize a broad range of tools, such as messaging apps and social media platforms, to address their questions and concerns. They don’t appreciate an option for customer service on social media; they expect it.
In fact, more than half of consumers prefer using social media for customer service vs. email or phone.
For your business, it means developing an effective approach to linking social media and customer service in a manner that works best for your brand and your consumers.
In this guide, we’re exploring why social customer care is so important – and what you need to know to get your social media customer service plan up to par.
Why is Social Media Customer Service So Important?
For centuries, the success of any business has relied heavily on the quality of customer service it provides.
How your customers perceive interactions with your brand will directly impact sales, brand loyalty, reputation, customer churn, and an array of other important metrics. And as every business owner knows, happy customers can often be one of the most valuable – and least expensive – forms of marketing out there.
But beyond that, there are several reasons why effective customer service on social media is necessary for your brand.
A solid customer service plan helps create a more favorable view of your brand – but not having one can hurt your reputation.
About 45% of U.S. consumers reported that they have a higher opinion of brands that respond to customer questions and complaints via social media platforms. This, in turn, increases customer retention and brand loyalty, which are the goals of just about every business.
In contrast, modern-day consumers often distrust brands that ignore their customers’ inquiries on social media. And when you consider that these interactions often take place in a publically-visible space – like on your brand’s Facebook page – how you handle them can make or break your reputation.
Look at it this way: if a customer walked into your brick-and-mortar location and asked a question, you would never dream of simply walking away without answering them. But when you aren’t promptly responding to the digital equivalent of this scenario, that is essentially what you are doing.
Whether you realize it or not, an expectation exists among your customers that they should be able to route their questions, comments, and issues directly to you through any (or all) of your many social presences. If those customers are reaching out to you via social media and you’re not responding, you will have many unhappy customers with many unresolved issues.
Gartner has shown that a failure to respond via your social channels can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers. On the flip side, when customers received satisfactory engagement and responses to their customer service requests on social media, they spent 20-40% more money with that company. They also were three times more likely to recommend that company.
Regarding customer service, social media is a wise investment for your brand.
The financial kickbacks don’t just come from customers making significant purchases — social customer care is very affordable. The average customer service interaction via phone costs $6. Emails? Up to $5 per interaction. But with social media, businesses can expect to see a cost of less than $1 per interaction.
Overall, managing customer service requests on social media can be 12 times cheaper than handling the exact needs via phone – if that data doesn’t convince you, we aren’t sure what will.
Of course, your ROI isn’t limited to direct customer service expenses. It’s also valuable to consider off-social metrics when evaluating whether social media customer care is worth it (hint: it absolutely is). For example, many brands experience an uptick in first-time and repeat customer sales, website traffic, and even in-person visits, which can often be tied back to the positive effects of social customer efforts.
You can become more in tune with your customers.
Social media customer service can be an excellent way to build better customer relationships, equipping you with critical information about your target audience.
Online interactions allow you to gain a crucial perspective on customer expectations, pain points, and more. From there, you can look for patterns to inform product/service improvements, changes in certain processes, etc.
In many cases, customers will use social media to provide feedback they would never have delivered. Although a customer may not be interested in contacting your business via phone, they are far more likely to leave a comment on your Facebook page – especially because they’re already spending considerable time online.
How to Create a Social Media Customer Service Plan
Because every business has unique needs, no two social media customer service strategies will be alike.
However, there are a few basic steps you can take to ensure you are well-prepared to provide high-quality customer service via social media:
Decide how you wish to handle these customer interactions primarily.
Some companies will begin the interaction on social media, collecting as much information as possible, and then ask the customer to call or email a separate contact to close things out. If you’re just starting, this is likely your best bet, as it doesn’t require any particular actions or knowledge on your part. Just make sure to route the relevant info to the appropriate parties promptly.
Determine in advance how you’ll handle particularly volatile situations. Remember that social media interactions are public, and always assume that each interaction will set the standard for every subsequent exchange. In some cases, it may be prudent to move interactions away from public platforms, like social media, as quickly as possible.
Whatever your plan is, be sure that you communicate it to all relevant parties within your organization. Please don’t assume that they share your knowledge of the basics. Establish a standard that customers seeking service via your social pages should be given the same attention as they would when contacting your business via phone or in person.
Develop a system for tracking interactions, analyzing efficacy, and tracking ROI. To make your investment in social media customer care as productive as possible, you’ll need to be able to measure your costs vs. returns. This means collecting a variety of data points, such as:
- Number of social media customer service requests
- Amount of time/money required to manage customer service on social media
- Customer satisfaction rates
Not only will this information allow you to make targeted improvements to your strategy, but it will also help you justify the investment as a whole.
For many brands, the most efficient approach is hiring a social media agency to monitor and carry out social media customer care tasks. This ensures timely responses, beneficial interactions, and consistency across all platforms without investing your time or effort.
Strengthen Your Social Media Strategy Now
In the world of social media marketing, nothing stays the same for long – so your brand needs to be ready to keep up with the rapid pace of change. And if you aren’t already implementing a customer service social media strategy, now is the time to get started.
V Digital Services is a digital marketing agency providing comprehensive services to a broad range of clients, helping you cultivate a more compelling online presence in every way possible. Our team of experts can work with you to develop a plan for customer service on social media, execute target social media marketing efforts, and so much more.
Learn how to leverage social media to benefit your business when you Contact V Digital Services today!