There are a number of important reasons that your social media strategy should include a specific plan for customer care. In fact, the only reason you shouldn’t have a social customer care plan is because you’re still developing it!
Otherwise, you’re not only missing out on a great opportunity to cut costs and provide better service — you might be hemorrhaging angry customers.
Do it for your customers
While most businesses simply assume their social platforms should act as vehicles for self-promotion and fan interaction, their customers are actually thinking something entirely different.
Nielsen reports that one-third of users prefer to contact brands via social media rather than by telephone. More than that, 67% of consumers have already used a company’s social site for customer service. Compare that with the mere 33% of consumers that actually interact with a company’s social page for marketing — the very reason most businesses start their social presence in the first place – and he irony here is staggering.
Businesses overwhelmingly consider their social properties as marketing vehicles — little more than ad space and a place to cultivate a greater audience to consume those ads. Yet the numbers plainly demonstrate that your customers aren’t solely —or even primarily — looking for information about your business, or for coupons, or for sales on your social media sites. They’re looking for your help!
The fact that one-third of your customers prefer social media for customer care over traditional avenues should be more than enough to encourage you to start preparing today. While social media may not be your preferred method of interacting with your customers, your customers don’t know that — nor do they care.
Regardless of the size of your business, enough brands and businesses have embraced a strategy of being proactive when it comes to customer service on social media that it has now become the standard for all brands.
These days, it’s simply not enough to just be present on social media.
Don’t let a closed ear create bad customer relationships. You never listen!
Ignorance isn’t bliss
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’re going to have a lot of unhappy customers with a lot of 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.
Great expectations, great rewards
The financial kickbacks don’t just come in the form of bigger 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.
It’s important to remember that high-quality social interactions are key. Without the right speed, follow through and tact, things can go bad. A single negative social post can have as much impact as five positive posts. That’s a lot of work to overcome an issue that could have been avoided in the first place.
The best time to start is yesterday
Some estimates have the volume of social customer service incidents overtaking those by phone as early as 2017. If you don’t have a plan in place yet to use your social media for customer service, you’re already behind.
While no single strategy will be appropriate for every business, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared for most social customer service interactions.
- Decide how you wish to primarily handle these customer interactions. 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 special actions or knowledge on your part. Just make sure to route the relevant info to the appropriate parties in a timely manner.
- 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 following interaction. 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. 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 exact same attention as they would when contacting your business via phone or in person.
Most customers will find a response time of 24-hours-or-less to be perfectly reasonable. You can always communicate that expectation in an initial response and provide the customer with alternative avenues of contact if they need a speedier resolution.
Of course, having an experienced partner is always a huge benefit! In the end, as long as you’re consistent and communicate your expectations to employees and customers, you’ll do great. When it comes to social customer service, the only answer that’s always wrong is no answer!