Why social media is a crucial part of customer service strategies

Henry Thompson, Zendesk
- Marketing - Aug 04, 2016

Social media has completely reinvented the way that consumers can interact with brands, and social channels now play a fundamental role in helping businesses communicate with their customers, as well as respond to their queries.

In fact, it’s had such a huge influence that some of the biggest brands such as Tesco, McDonalds, Netflix, River Island and ASOS now have dedicated social channels to address customer service problems.

The open nature of social media means that customers’ complaints are publically visible – providing a much louder voice for customers than they’ve had before. When a customer takes to social media to vent, the comments expressed can often leave other customers with a whole new perception of a brand. We’re all too familiar with noticing a disgruntled customer taking to their social media accounts in a rage. Within minutes, more and more people begin adding to the post to also voice their bad experiences. Escalated situations like these can cause serious damage to a brand’s reputation, popularity and overall consumer trust.

While social media can pose dangers to a brand without an informed plan in place, when used strategically, social media is one of the most effective and beneficial customer service tools available. For customers, it is a quick and convenient means of expressing a concern or requesting information. For businesses, it provides a much more transparent approach to customer service and also enables teams to deal with simple enquiries, quickly.

With this in mind, it’s concerning when you consider data taken from Twitter, which shows that nearly 40 per cent of customer tweets never get a response from the company they contacted. The use of social media should be a customer service priority. Brands must better prepare their frontline staff to deal with a disgruntled customer on social media and, most importantly, do so before it escalates into a larger issue. Planning for, and setting a procedure in place will ensure companies have as much control as possible in handling the situation. So, how can this been achieved?

Getting to know your customers is a great start. Tools that give companies the ability to build individual profiles of each customer allow customer service teams to access a bank of knowledge for each customer’s previous experiences. Not only does this mean that customer service teams are then able to respond more efficiently, but it will also help ensure that a valuable conclusion is reached quickly.

With the right tools and procedures in place, a brand can use social media to their advantage and interact in an engaging way. Take ASOS for example, whose social media stream is filled with informal language that seems friendly and approachable. ASOS demonstrates a clear tone of voice when responding to customer queries in the public domain. Using this as an opportunity, the best brands will then use a customer’s complaint to both cross-sell and upsell. They can turn customers into brand evangelists through positive social media interactions. This creates a supportive independent voice in support of the brand that can ultimately lead to customer acquisition.

In a relatively short period of time, social media has changed the way we communicate and like it or not, it now plays a major role when communicating with consumers. It gives brands the ability to engage with consumers in real-time and has opened up two-way communications between consumers and brands on a large scale. For this reason, customer service teams must embrace using social media as a means of both active and reactive communication.

For all the benefits social media brings, brands must accept they are also losing an element of control to the consumer and therefore teams must generate a procedure that not only works to address disgruntled customers, but that proactively tries to attract new ones. Those that are able to adapt and maximise the impact that social channels have on their business, while maintaining a positive level of service on their other customer service platforms, will not only find their customers are happier, but that the business itself runs more efficiently.

By Henry Thompson, director of customer success, Zendesk

Read the August 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

Follow @BizReviewEurope

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