Customer service and social media is still a foreign country
For some businesses they think customer services is a passive, do-we-have-to-bolt- on, they tolerate. As the years pass and developments occur it’s easy to think: ‘We’ve lived this long without social media so why should we waste time and resources when dealing with customer service?’
Well, social media and customer service is morphing into a highly complex marketing tool.
Yes you can ignore it but there’s nothing to say consumers are going to ignore you. If you don’t listen to what your customers are saying how can you know where to improve? What products do you stock? perhaps just as importantly, how to make everything you do better? Hell, even Ryanair have called in the good guys and decided on customer service and social media. Mind you, many are still distrustful; call us cynics.
Yes business did go on without social media.
People used to wash their clothes in the river but would you still do it if a washing machine was plumbed into your kitchen? Exactly. Customer service is vital. Once upon a time, brands dictated, but that has been transformed. Knowing your clients’ pain points is integral to being the service, product or brand people want to use and keep using. This is how customer and social media can make a massive difference to your business.
In general people’s patience is much shorter
Their expectations are much higher in 2015. When there’s a problem they usually want it sorted to their advantage. Mostly people don’t want to feel fleeced, short changed or ignored. Take this case study:
A famous phone company phoned on the off chance I would like to upgrade my phone as it’s due. That’s nice of them isn’t it? How sweet. The thing is they call at their convenience not mine. I hear the word Samsung S6 Edge and of course I abandon what I’m doing; I am now concentrating very hard indeed.
They suggest an upgrade and guess what?
Suddenly I am paying even more per month than I was before. I swallow hard and accept for the sake of the phone. After much ‘can I run through some security questions? malarkey it’s sorted. I pay to have the phone delivered because it will come in 24 hours. It arrives 48 hours later. However, I love the new phone. Then I speak to friends. ‘How much are you paying per month? I blush. ‘How much data? Really? So little. ‘Have you got Spotfiy?’ I crawl into a hole and sulk.
I feel done, shafted, fed up, swindled, upset.
I try to contact the phone company. Can I find a number? Hell, no. I cannot contact them when it’s convenient for me and have to wait until Monday. See the difference? We are not interested in historic opening times. We want it now. I wait until Monday. I eventually get through, undertake three lots of security checks, get passed onto three people. I am on the phone for over 30 minutes. Wouldn’t it have been great to tweet and get my problem sorted immediately. If customer service and social media were aligned I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.No one minds problems if they are acknowledged and rectified with aplomb!
Eventually a change of package is negotiated.
They drop my charges by 15% suddenly data goes from 2 gygs to 8 and Spotify lands on my phone ‘for free’. My response, as I was holding endlessly? Honestly? I wanted to tweet about the customer service I was receiving. I checked options for other phone companies and was ready to send it all back and start from scratch. Think, this is a customer with many loyal years. Why would anyone jeopardise such a relationship?
This is the reality of social media, of doing business in 2015 and the relevance of customer service. The customer has to be put first. Call it obsequiousness if you like but customers have options. They have platforms, megaphones, soap boxes and their own PR machine that can damage yours. Word of mouth is even more powerful than it was. Great, when someone loves you, but a disaster when you get it wrong.
So what lessons can be learned from this?
14 ways to sharpen customer service and social media alignment.
- Try hard to personalise your offerings. People live busy, tense and stressful lives.
- Avoid excess hoops for clients to negotiate. Make dealing with your business simple.
- Make contact as easy as it can be without driving yourself mad.
- Pick the brightest people to handle customer service and pay them well. They are probably more important than your marketers as they keep the promises.
- Make pricing simple, transparent and fair. You don’t want to feel like a customer is in a market and ready to bargain.
- Be prepared to answer queries on social media and be available 24/7 or state how long a response will be.
- You can certainly help an established business to develop and grow further.
- Be aware that social media does have a flip side. Without planning, strategy, thoughts and care you can wreck a brand.
- To keep growing, developing your reputation be transparent. Allow and encourage questions and comments.
- Check what is being said about your company absolutely everywhere. Ensure someone looks through regularly and respond accordingly. Do not ignore this vital market research.
- Reply as quickly as you can and you may find a crisis is transformed into a positive marketing opportunity.
- Take a deep breath and respond super rapidly to negativity.
- Monitor, encourage and respond to feedback. Complaints are a priority but ideas are generated too.
- Train all your staff on the pros and cons of social media. Take it seriously and just keep in mind what customers want, then provide it.