5 ways social media helps your business create exceptional customer service

5 ways social media helps your business create exceptional customer service

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Wishlist Wednesday, did I leave anything out?

Ok, so Wishlist Wednesday isn’t really a thing, but what is something to note is that consumers have spent more money online than in-store – close to $4.45 billion – this Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday.

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It’s important to note that, for the first time ever, the majority of the browsing traffic came from mobile and tablet, accounting for 57 percent of online shopping traffic.

With the holidays upon us, companies are bracing themselves for yet another boom in sales. This time mobile will be key in their customer experience strategy.

As brands adjust to the expectations of the mobile-first, convenience-craving consumer, social media is the channel owning mobile and, not surprisingly, the channel of choice for customers needing answers and service resolutions.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your brand remains a social first company, providing the kind of customer service experience that will keep customers loyal and engaged over social channels.

Take a social first approach

Legacy customer support channels such as email, chat and phone are still in the social customer care mix. But the Era of the Customer has taught us customers are defining when and how they receive service.

More often than not, that desired channel is social media. It’s convenient and your customers are already well versed in communicating on these channels.

Instead of scrambling last minute to cover burgeoning complaints via Twitter or Facebook, prepare ahead of time. Adopt a smart social media customer service solution, educate your agents to properly handle Social engagements and make yourself available to your customers.

A great example of a brand that does it right is Pret A Manger.

Not only does the company have its own easy to use contact page, but they also thoroughly integrate various social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Best of all, their instantaneous response to social media queries shows how the brand dedicates time to creating a loyal following through social media.

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Humanize your service engagements

I think we can agree that in some respects, technology has gotten in its own way.

What was once engineered for convenience, often becomes a hindrance to resolution and creates far too much friction in the customer experience. As smart as technology has become, without true intuition or the human touch, it often falls short.

Consider taking a more “human” approach by adding sensitivity and empathy to your service engagements and allowing your agents the freedom to be real people.

Additionally, social and messaging apps have changed the way that we communicate, so speak your customers’ language and make your brand a trusted partner.

Tesco uses this approach to customer complaints – validating their emotions and concerns while finding  viable solutions to their problems. By connecting with their customer’s feelings and acknowledging mistakes, the company comes across as genuine and approachable.

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Adopt mature social channels

Many brands shy away from social media as a support channel out of fear.

Pissed off, venting customers are hard to handle, and can create a lot of damage when not dealt with properly. Their reach is powerful and it can create negative brand sentiment quickly. However, this view of social customer service is very narrow.

Facebook Messenger for Business recently released a feature that allows customers and brands to communicate directly on Messenger:

With 700 million users and growing, Facebook Messenger is a favorite for this mobile generation – and many companies such as Hertz and Marks and Spencer are taking advantage of this.

This is a game changer for the face of social customer service, as instead of being an instrument for public venting sessions, it transforms into a more mature, personal channel.

Connect with customers and build trust by engaging with them where they already are.

Prepare for the worst, expect the best

Having a crisis plan clearly mapped out is one of the most important strategies, especially in high volume order times like the holidays.

Chances are that you will never need to defer to this plan, but God forbid you find yourself in a sticky situation that gets picked up on social channels without a plan of action in place.

Clearly define what counts as a crisis and rehearse worst case scenarios before you ever have to deal with them. When customer service disaster strikes, don’t go into panic mode or retreat from the issue – have a fool-proof plan in place to ensure that your brand is protected.

As Volkswagen recently learned, having a plan in which you own up to your mistakes is without doubt the best way to deal with crises. While the company will inevitably need to work hard to regain trust, having a plan which includes coming clean in the face of scandal is the best way to appear graceful and professional.

Be proactive

Your audience is already on social, talking about their tastes, needs and considering future purchases. Don’t miss out on the low hanging fruit on Instagram or Twitter – use geotags and hashtags to discover the conversations that are just waiting for you to join.

When Audi caught a tweet about a prospect looking for a new car, they swooped into the conversation and sold a car. 

Here’s a little secret you may not realize: according to Forrester, Instagram’s engagement rate for brands is 4.21 percent (58 times more per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter).

Top brands that are getting it right on Instagram receive an average of 216 comments, with 50 percent of comments being posted in the first six hours and 75 percent posted in the first 48 hours.

Instagram is a viable channel for brands, and proactive customer service is one way you can make the most of this opportunity.

Regardless of where your brand sits on the social media maturity scale, there are steps right now that you can take to make high volume times like the holidays a breeze for your support teams.

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