This article was originally posted on Business2Community.
It costs a company $234 every time they lose a customer. Whether you’re the marketing manager or business owner, I know you don’t want to be the one responsible for losing the next BIG customer. That’s why I propose you start using social media to monitor and increase customer satisfaction.
I believe that to deliver a superior level of customer service, you need to be able to deliver it through a medium that your customer actually use. As your customers move to other forms of media, it is your job to stay ahead of the curve and be where they are.
And guess what, they’re now on social media. Your customers are on Facebook, they’re on Twitter, and they’re browsing online forums.
When I think of a frustrated customer, I think of Joe Bloggs, on hold to his Telco which has walked him through 10 minutes of automatic telephone system nonsense, only then… to put him through to an overseas call center.
No one likes that experience.
That’s why I’m taking you through five ways you can increase customer satisfaction through using social media.
1. Use social media to monitor brand mentions and sentiment
Wells Fargo & Company, a financial services company based in San Francisco, CA – uses social media to increase positive sentiment about its brand. In fact, they recently incorporated Twitter as a customer service channel and claim it to be their most effective customer service tool, increasing brand sentiment by 38 percent.
Wells Fargo & Company has even developed its own proprietary system to measure and interpret customer sentiment about its brand. Kimarie Matthews, VP of Social Web Marketing for Wells Fargo & Company, says that when a customer is talking about the company, they take that opportunity to engage with that customer right from the first tweet.
I recommend taking a leap out of the Wells Fargo book and use social media as a customer service channel. It’s easy to get started. Just setup a Twitter handle for customer support and direct uses to leave messages there.
For example, at Client Heartbeat we would use something like, @HeartbeatSupport.
2. Use social media to communicate prompt and professional messages to customers
I strongly believe we are living in a world of instant gratification. This has its positives and its draw backs, but more importantly for you, it has lead to customers having short attention spans and wanting fast responses.
As a result, sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have seen significant growth. A customer can quickly go onto these sites, engage with someone or a company, and expect an answer straight away.
So unless you want to end up running a company in the prehistoric ages, you need to look towards using social media as a platform to communicate with customers promptly and professionally.
Tech startups do an awesome job at using social media to communicate with their customers. Often times, they have tighter budgets and just direct users to ‘tweet their support handle’.
These companies are so good at getting back quick, accurate and professional responses… the customer actually wants to enjoys the customer experience. With that being said, it’s important you know how to use Twitter correctly.
Here are three quick tips to communicate using Twitter:
- Respond quickly, even if it’s just to say you got the message
- Communicate using a friendly, human voice – don’t try and be a corporate bigwig
- Follow up with customers to gauge feedback on your performance
3. Use social media as a customer support channel
Let me explain this for you. Your customers are now using their mobile phones 150 times per day. So when they are communicating with companies, what do you think they want to use?
It’s no longer good enough to just offer a support email address or a support 1800 number. Your customers want to reach you via their mobile, using social media.
That’s why I recommend you setup a designated social media customer support channel. Customers are so comfortable with just tweeting out customer complaints and questions, you can now give them a way to reach you, and give you the opportunity to resolve problems fast.
Reuven Gorsht writes a good piece on this topic over at Forbes.com. “Where five years ago we could tolerate waiting 24 hours for a response from a customer service email, we are increasingly living in a real-time world where we want to know the answer right now.”
I agree with Reuven, there is a big opportunity for companies to use social media for customer service. Now that everything is accessible online through social media, you now have an opportunity to respond. You can literally solve a problem instantly, from anywhere in the world
With customers paying less and less attention to what brands say about themselves, being able to engage customers on their terms is a win-win.
“The old model of pushing press releases and blog articles out on social media is having a decreasing effect on customer opinion, while comments from friends, family and other connections are increasing in influence. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to take a different approach and “humanize” the brand by participating in conversations that matter most in the customer experience journey.” – Reuven Gorsht, SAP
To give you an idea of how big companies are using social media as a customer support channel, a recent study by SocialBakers found Tesco to be the world’s most socially devoted Twitter brand. They’ve accumulated a whopping 75,904 twitter followers, whilst clocking an impressive 65.88% response rate with average respond time of only 81 minutes.
If you need more convincing, a study by Simply Measured found that thirty-two percent of brands now have dedicated customer support handles. The same study found a significant growth in customer service tweets with a 63 percent increase quarter over quarter.
4. Use social Media to hold regular Q&A sessions
Celebrities are using social media to hold Q&A sessions. A great example was the US President, Barack Obama, jumping on Reddit to answers questions from users.
Companies can do this too, but most the time it is a senior employee or ‘real person’ of the company running the Q&A. We’ve seen Bill Gates, The Lonely Island, Roger Federer, and many, many more influential people run Q&A’s on Reddit and other social media sites.
I recommend companies do a Q&A to give their customers an avenue to express their concerns, comments or compliments. Often times it’s your unhappy customers that will not give you feedback. So unless you’re doing customer feedback surveys, this is a way you can open up communication and listen to the customer. Running a Q&A encourages customer engagement and will help you identify any customer problems.
5. Use social media to empower top customer advocates to respond for you
This is my final recommendation and what I think is the most powerful.
An interesting model is being implemented by some of the world’s biggest companies.
Let’s take a look at a real example. Over on the HP community site, a member spends upwards of 30 unpaid hours a week responding to queries on their discussion forums. In this case, HP is using their customers to answer HP related questions. They empower their customers with community management tools that encourage engagement.
Another great example is the Google Adwords community group. Contributors are encouraged to answer queries and strive to become a ‘top contributor’. Top contributors are recognized as industry experts, which really helps to keep them motivated and keep the community active. Google also invites all the top Google Adwords contributors to an annual meetup. Simple things like keep the customers motivated.
In both cases, these company’s are empowering their advocates to assist with customer service. This helps each company to reduce expensive customer service costs and more times than not, offer a better customer experience.
How can you leverage your community of advocates to help increase customer satisfaction?
Stop ignoring social media as a customer satisfaction channel
Can you afford to ignore social media? I certainly can’t. At Client Heartbeat, I’ve implemented social media monitoring tools to track brand mentions, identify key influencers and answer customer support questions.
It’s still early days but we are definitely seeing the benefits. If you’re struggling to retain customers, why not try increasing customer satisfaction through social media?