The demand for social media customer service is so high that brands like Ford have a dedicated Twitter handle for customer service. Even though conventional customer service methods like phone or email support offer real-time SLAs, consumers continue to flock to social media communities with the hope of finding immediate solutions. In a recent survey conducted by Interakt, 68.2 percent of survey respondents stated that they expected their wireless service providers to respond to their questions on Twitter within three hours.
However, the same survey also notes that some top brands are not always living up to customer expectations. One third of the respondents stated that they would switch service providers if there was no response to their questions on Facebook or Twitter. It is evident that leaving customer queries unanswered is a risk that no brand should take.
Here are some ways in which brands can manage today’s social media customer service demands.
Deliver a quick reply, even if you do not have an immediate solution. Tell the customer that your team is looking in to the issue. Provide some basic initial suggestions whenever possible. Or proactively ask for more information from the customer depending on the complaint. Here’s a nice example we found on the Internet:
Treat general comments and suggestions with importance just as you would treat customer complaints. Responding to general comments and suggestions gives you the opportunity to get to know your audience better and adds a personal touch to your conversations with them. Be positive in your responses and use a bit of humor whenever possible. This will strike a chord with them and leave behind a more positive brand image. Taco Bell is known to be witty on Twitter, and here is a great example of one of their personal, funny responses.
Never delete or hide a customer comment about your brand, especially if it is negative. Social media communities are usually very active, and customers watch every move a brand makes. ChapStick put up an ad which its Facebook fans found to be offensive. When disgruntled fans commented that the brand should remove the ad, ChapStick simply deleted their comments from its wall. Fans soon began to feel that ChapStick was not ready to listen to their voices. It is ironic that ChapStick had included this line “Be heard at facebook.com/chapstick” at the bottom of the offensive ad. To the brand’s Facebook fans, it was evident that there was a great gap between what ChapStick preached and what it practiced. Ideally, ChapStick should have at least apologized on Facebook to save its image.
Customers use social media communities to express their satisfaction or discontent with brands. Poor response times can spread a negative brand image across entire communities. Therefore, brands should consider social media as a valid channel for customer service and enforce stringent SLAs in order to exceed customer expectations.