Social media is a big part of our lives. Regardless of age, people are increasingly spending more time scrolling through their feeds than ever before. As it is today, we spend nearly three hours on social media daily and that is expected to rise as internet communities grow and more people continue to gain access to them.
The platforms have evolved and we, too, have gotten warmed up. We're freer to share pieces of our personal lives with the public because we've made friends and built virtual homes online. For better or for worse, the things we share also include what we think about brands and products.
The fact that people are open about their experiences can be scary for a business owner if you don't have a strategy in place to use that to your advantage. But when you plan for it, social media can be a powerful tool for increasing brand loyalty and advocacy.
Considering how these platforms have grown, the focus of every tech and SaaS brand should be on how they can maximize this tool for radical growth. Here are a few strategies your brand can use to take customer service to the next level leveraging the power of social media.
Customer Behavior Has Changed
Research shows that 68 percent of customers prefer to use social media as a complaint channel. This is strongly linked to the fact that social platforms have become a major part of our lives. Most people, especially millennials, are more comfortable posting their questions or complaints on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram than sending emails or waiting in line for phone calls.
Somehow, social media is perceived as a faster communication channel compared to others. The average person will send an email to a company, not knowing when to expect a reply. But there's something about social media that makes people know they should be getting replies within short periods. The Edison Research team even found that 42 percent of customers expect a response within 60 minutes of launching complaints on social media.
Additionally, the fact that social media posts are public means others will see your response time and whether or not you do respond to customers. It will affect your brand image if current and potential customers see you don't respond, or take days to respond, to posts from customers.
Proactive and Reactive Responses
There are two ways to deal with customers: you can be proactive or reactive.
Proactive response, also known as customer care, involves visualizing what your customers will need and putting things in place to attend to them before they even ask for it.
Reactive response, or customer service on the other hand, simply means responding to queries, complaints, and questions from customers. Brands ideally should strive to be both proactive and reactive in their approach.
How Brands Can Be Proactive on Social Media
Here are a few proactive strategies to consider on social platforms:
Set up Social Listening Software and Google Alerts
You'll get notified when customers tag you on social media, but you need more than brand tags to be proactive. Many things customers casually say about your brand are important; using listening tools like Keyhole, Awario, or HubSpot Social Media Management Software, will ensure you don't miss any of them.
You can also set up Google alerts using your brand name as the primary keyword. After the setup is done, you'll get email notifications for brand mentions. You can now decide what to do about the things people say about you. One good thing about listening software is that it lets you analyze and categorize your mentions. This way, you can take note of recurring points and decide how best to address them. More on that later.
The invention of Netflix socks is a good example of customer care. Through social listening, the company realized people often miss episodes when they fall asleep while binge-watching. So, they came up with a solution even before customers started complaining. Netflix socks can detect your body movements when you're asleep. The socks will send a signal to pause the show so you don't miss any episodes at all.
Invest in a Messaging System
Social media platforms provide native messaging apps brands can use, but if the nature of your business demands that you handle hundreds of messages daily from different platforms then having a system that can integrate everything will enable you to respond faster. Juggling between Twitter, Slack, Facebook messenger, or other platforms to respond to messages will drain you and cost you time that could be used for something else. Tools like Trillian and Pidgin can combine all of your platforms into one system.
Encourage Customers to Engage with You
This can be done during onboarding or at the point of purchase, depending on your business model. Telling customers you're available to respond on social media will give them extra confidence in expecting replies when they tag you. Maintaining active social media accounts that constantly engage with customers is a key factor here. Posting regularly and replying to comments will pass the message that you're the kind of brand people can engage with on social media. You don't need to be active across all platforms to make this happen. Choose one or two that best meet your business model and target audience then stick to them.
A Game Plan for Responding to Customers on Social Media
When you're done putting the proactive measures in place, you'll have to respond to comments and posts customers make about you.
Some principles to keep in mind:
Not every comment or post about your brand deserves a response from you.
Try to be positive all the time. It can be tempting to model the energy from a negative or angry customer, especially when they use curse words. But know that the rest of the world is watching, so always have the big picture in mind when responding to customers.
Not all conversations should be public. You may have to send a DM (direct message) when you need sensitive information from a customer or if the character limit does not allow you to respond as you'd like.
It's okay to take things outside social media. Sometimes you may find that issues can't be resolved with just a few replies on social media. In situations like this, you can choose to call the customer, send an email, or ask them to come over to the company if it's something that needs to be fixed in person. However, it's always important that you first reply to their posts.
Set up automatic prompts and responses to attend to messages in your inbox before a human gets to reply. Doing this will ensure customers get a response even if they messaged at odd hours. Autoresponders have advanced so that you can use them to solve the most common complaints your customers have. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp Business have this feature. There's also the quick replies feature on Instagram you can use to quickly send draft messages for recurring issues. However, for more automated customer service, consider using chatbots.
It's amazing when customer service collaborates with engineering to provide product upgrades and solutions to problems that a lot of people complain about. That's what Netflix did in the example we saw earlier on. Many tech and SaaS companies have also adopted this approach. Slack, for example, reports that customers are a vital part of their product development process. Employees are assigned to monitor different areas of the product based on their expertise and recurring problems are communicated to the product and engineering teams.
Apply this to your social customer care: task your social media team with analyzing what customers complain about the most or seem to be having difficulty with, and let them pass over the information to your engineering team to come up with creative solutions.
Brands expand by leveraging growth systems, and social media as a customer care tool is one of the cheapest leverages in the modern era. Capitalize on it to build trust and loyalty with your customers. Remember that speed is the rule of the game here, especially when it comes to replying to messages and tags. Set up autoresponders and also ensure you check your inbox daily.
When responding to queries on social media, be sure to put on your best attitude as a customer service rep would do in real life. Virality is the nature of social media — you don't want people painting your brand black because of a bad response from your team.
And don't forget that setting up a social media presence is not enough. Your brand has to be creating targeted content, engaging with the community, and also running paid ads to get more eyeballs on your offers.