For consumers, customer service has long been a dreaded process involving long waits, recorded messages and grumpy customer services reps. Companies could get away with shoddy support until word of mouth spread enough to force an improvement. With the advent of social media, however, consumers have leveled the playing field in the struggle for support. Today’s users engage in social care. Social media provides highly populated public platforms to share customer service complaints, and customers who have had bad experiences aren’t shy about sharing it.
Companies have adjusted to this development, and customer service reps are putting down their phones and logging on to websites like Facebook and Twitter — and customers have responded. According to an NM Incite report, 71 percent of social care users who receive a quick, effective response are more likely to recommend a brand. The same report says nearly half of social media users engage in social care. While real-time online customer service and live chat software continue to develop, social media customer service is at the forefront.
Social care may be a new development, but best practices for business social care are unfolding before our eyes. Here’s what we know so far:
1 – I’ll Leave a Message
Social media offers consumers an instant platform to voice their concern. Instead of waiting at the feet of companies that have let them down, users can post their complaint for their social circle to see. One of two actions follow: Users receive no reply, but feel vindicated because they protected their social circle from similar struggles, or companies respond and address their customers concern on a public forum.
In some ways, it takes the pressure off customer service representatives who are expected to disseminate a problem on moments notice, but that doesn’t mean businesses can take their sweet time. According to an Edison Research report, 42 percent of social care users expect a response within an hour. With such high expectation, businesses responded with technology of their own.
2 – Let Technology Guide Your Way
With such high demand, businesses have turned to social mention trackers, which detect mentions across the landscape. Free resources like socialmention.com search “across the universe” for mentions, so businesses can respond to concerns on less popular platforms along with Facebook and Twitter (which have user bases of more than 1 billion and 500 million, respectively). Smaller businesses can benefit by searching all mentions, while large business can narrow their searches to “(company name) problem” or “(company name) upset” to attend to disgruntled customers first.
3 – Be Nice, Everyone’s Watching
Social care’s public nature means customer service respondents won’t be able to get away with rude behavior the way they can on the phone. A helpful, respectful attitude will not only build favor with the customer, it will also promote your brand to his or her friends. Luckily for the grumpy customer service employee, it’s easier to put on a brave face online than it is on the phone. Depending on your business, the occasional smiley face emoticon can gain customer trust.