How To Be One Step Ahead of the Social Customer Service Game

By: Sofie De Beule

June 27, 2014

Customers are everywhere, and social media is apparently their go-to source. But, are you handling them the right way?

While the buzz around delivering social customer service has been going on for years now, the debate on how exactly people should approach social media as a customer-care channel has evoked a lot of criticism.

What leaves most customers frustrated is the lack of human connection when companies talk to their customers. Therefore, it’s crucial for businesses to gain contextual knowledge of their customers to deliver that important, consistent reply across all channels. This is where analytics comes in to help you further identify the needs of your customers.

What leaves most customers frustrated is the lack of human connection when companies talk to their customers.

A lot of businesses simply aren’t delivering quick and personalized responses to customer complaints. While smaller companies – regardless of their size or social media budget – have especially grown into the habit of delivering great social customer service, they’re setting the example for multinational companies who leave complaints unattended and ignored.

However, beyond actively answering customers’ complaints, there’s a whole other scope on customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer loyalty that needs to be attended to help you gain a crucial edge over your competition.

But how exactly can you maintain that edge over your competition?

1. Proactive Outreach

Don’t let your customers come to you with complaints. Reach out to them before they make complaints. When it comes to social customer service, it’s not about being a great company, it’s about being the best company out there. To really have your head in the game, make sure you reach out to your customers first.

If you already know who your customers are, and on which social channels they’re active, why not use this opportunity to make them feel cared for at the right place, at the right time?

In order to provide your customers with relevant offers, dispose of robust analytics to form a well-rounded profile of the person that’s on the other side of the screen. Are they using your product in the best possible way? Make sure you gain insights into the issues your customers are struggling with and make a firm statement by touching the right elements in your one-on-one, two-way conversation. Never forget that your competitor is just a quick online search away. Customers would easily ditch a brand to which they’re loyal if they can find an alternative that can ensure them a great, personalized customer service. Don’t give them reason to switch!

Customers easily ditch brands if they can find a better alternative.

2. Respond Within 30 Minutes

Social media is a go-to source for many kinds of complaints. So, how would you feel if you had to wait hours for a reply regarding an urgent issue? The unfortunate thing with social media is – although it’s the perfect medium for real-time interaction – a lot of companies simply don’t manage to provide a response within 30 minutes. However, many customers would go to great lengths to have companies deliver on excellent customer service. According to Harvard Business Review:

86% of people would even be willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Service companies need to leverage customer service through social media. Dealing with a lot of customer complaints, expectation levels are high when it comes to delivering fast and smooth replies. People don’t want to go through a lot of hassle by switching to other customer service channels, and receiving incomplete answers.

3. Make It Relevant, And Above All, Make It Personal

To elevate yourself above the competition, give your customers more than expected. Don’t just simply strive for relevancy, strive for excellence. This doesn’t imply you need to offer them a complex solution. Think about how to thank them even when they don’t buy something. What can you give them that they can’t get anywhere else? Make that an exercise for your business!

For example, in many cases, generic responses are not done. While they can help you ease the workload when it comes to crisis situations, they often make you sound too robotic. To help bridge the gap between offline and online contact, make sure you tell your story in a personal way.

Why not make them feel special by regularly asking them for feedback? In that case, make sure you actually incorporate that feedback into your business model to have the voice of your customers being heard.

What brands have you seen offer exceptional customer service through social media?

This blog post originally appeared on Maximize Social Business.