When you see that a prospect or customer has posted on your social media page, is your first instinct to delete the comment or question, thinking one of these thoughts as you do?
- “I’m too busy to answer this.”
- “If they really want to contact us, they’ll call or email us.”
- “I don’t want other followers to see this (possibly negative) comment so I’ll just get rid of it and pretend it never happened.”
As my kids would say when they were toddlers, “That’s very, very bad”.
As this very enlightening infographic from Conversocial explains, “50% of consumers are actively using social media to reach out for customer service”. Would you hang up the phone on half of all the calls that come in to your business, or delete half of your customers’ emails?
It’s surprsing to me how many actually do, unfortunately. I’ve reached out to small businesses and large brands via Twitter and Facebook many times, and had my comments or questions deleted or ignored. It makes me not want to do business with the company anymore. It took my comment being retweeted several times before one large consumer-facing software company responded to a customer service issue I recently had. By that time, thousands of people on Twitter had seen my comment, and the company had lost me permanently as a customer.
Ok, so how do you prevent all this customer angst? It’s not that hard, really. If you set up a social media page for your company, you’ve got to remember its a 2-way street, and watch that page like a hawk for customers interacting with you. And when they do, interact back. Social media’s now just another channel, like email, the phone, or your website. Look at that infographic again. It’s 50% now, but expect that to go up in the future.
Here are a few simple rules to help with your social engagement:
- Monitor your social media pages regularly (the smart big brands do this 24/7, often with a large staff of monitors; small businesses must find time to do this every day – use a social platform like SproutSocial or Hootsuite if you need to).
- Respond quickly; ideally within 24 hours. What I do with the pages I manage is to acknowledge the comment right away and let them know I’m looking into their issue.
- Use a consistent, polite and friendly tone. Pretend you’re on the phone with the customer as you write. And make sure that all the admins on your page use the same tone of voice. I recommend coming up with a set of standard responses to use in multiple situations that you can customize when necessary.
- Thank all commenters publicly for their feedback, regardless of the subject of the comment or question; after all, they made the effort to follow your page. In addition, your response will be seen by all your other followers, giving you an opportunity to highlight your great customer service. Even if you ultimately need to private message the commenter in order to resolve the issue, at least you’ve shown all your followers that there are real people behind the brand.
- Keep track of all questions and comments and note any patterns; social media is a great source of market research for your business.
- Only delete the true ‘trolls’ – those that use offensive or abusive language. You still might need to deal with them via a private channel, but their statements won’t offend your other customers.
What are your experiences with social customer service? Some companies have come up with resourceful ways of handling this issue, and its always good to observe how they do it.
[Thanks to Conversocial for doing the research on this issue!]