What in the world are we going to do about social media? "It’s not going anywhere." "Your customers are all over social." "Best practice this..." "Facebook that..."
There are no rules in social media. Ok, there might be some things you want to avoid, or some things that you definitely want to do, but overall, to each their own. Social media is a s-o-c-i-a-l tool. It's not a lead gen machine, it’s not a PR outlet, and it’s definitely not a place to be narcissistic. Yes, your customers are on social media, and if you want to play nice with them on their turf and earn their trust, then your business must at least know the proper social media etiquette.
Or, your business may very well be using social the right way, and you need no additional help. If you have great relationships with your customers on Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn, and your business is doing a great job of responding to customers and their issues on those channels, stop reading and check out the 40 most adorable baby animal moments ever on the internet. Then, share it on your Facebook page. Everyone is a sucker for babies, puppies and kittens.
If you’re not feeling so confident about how your business uses social media as a service, stop reading and go grab some Starbucks for your customer service team. We’ve got some work to do. If you missed our Part 1 of this 2 part series, here’s a quick glance on what we learned:
- Customers are emotional people, and we need to factor emotions into the customer service process.
- True loyal customers are not purchased, rather, they stem from developing solid relationships via customer experiences and seamlessly solving their problems.
- Customer satisfaction is critical to the user experience and each business should have a well mapped out path of what the user experience looks (and feels) like.
- CSRs need to be equipped with the right knowledge and tools to ensure customer satisfaction, and therefore develop true, long term customer loyalty.
Using Social Media for Customer Service
First, let’s establish one very important note here: Social media becomes an extension of what you’re already doing. Believing that social media will change the way your business conducts customer service is an undersight. Please be aware that if your current customer service methods and process aren’t working for your business (and for your customers), simply adding social media to the mix will not fix anything.
Second, social media for customer service will most likely involve several departments within your organization, including marketing, PR, as well as customer service. When your business is prepared to leverage social as a means to help customers with issues, all departments involved must establish a clear communications path to ensure the information gathered about the customer and their issue(s) is well documented and toggled with appropriate response time. Otherwise, the chances are your customer will have a less than pleasant experience.
What should the communications path between departments consider?
- How many different profiles (social media outlets) do you offer to your customers to communicate with you?
- What are the determined hours of customer service operation - 9-5? M-F? 24/7?
- Who or which department will be monitoring the social profiles (and the internet) for comments related to your brand?
- What does the escalation procedure look like? Does the monitoring party have the power to solve certain issues, or does the information need to be taken to higher levels?
- Is your business legally regulated (eg: pharmaceutical or medical)? Meaning, do you need to prepare some canned responses that are approved before sending?
- How are the social media communications being documented?
Getting everyone on board internally is the first step in establishing the social media customer service process. However, your customers aren’t necessarily going to come to you (or your social profile) when they have a problem. They’re going to send out messages to their entire follower base and they’re going to vent and rant about whatever problem they’re experiencing. Yes, in case you’re wondering, social media users have feelings, too.
Proactive tips for using social media as a customer service tool:
- Make sure you’re "listening" for conversations happening online - frequently. Setup notifications or have a daily routine established to search for key phrases or exact brand/company references.
- Make sure your listening efforts are conducted in real-time. Response timing is critical, especially when interacting with the super savvy social pros who are constantly moving around the digital landscape.
- Use the same medium to respond as where you found the customer commentary.
- Leave comments open to public view. Muting your customers is offensive and never leads to a positive resolve. Simply address the issue and work with the customer to determine if a more personal, offline conversation is necessary to solve the problem.
- Oh, and SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Don’t let even the smallest of issues go undetected, and don’t ignore customer issues even if they’re silly or bogus. Remember the service in customer service.
Tools for Managing Social Media Customer Service
To be honest, there really isn’t any amazing, all encompassing, knock your socks off and do your laundry all-in-one software for social media efforts allowing for documented customer relationship management. There are some awesome tools – for sure – but businesses using social media for customer service need to document every interaction with customers for all internal departments to access. An efficient solution as an alternative to sub-par social media tools is to utilize the social aspects of your CRM system to handle the documentation of all customer touch points, especially those conducted via social media.
Most social media management tools are designed for marketers. Not sales reps, not customer service reps, not upper management, just marketing. While these tools have some features related to customer service, they are not focused on helping multiple departments communicate together, document the process or deliver a seamless customer experience.
We like the following tools for managing social media, but don’t necessarily use them to manage our customer service documentation.
- Google Alerts
Which social management tools does your business use? We’re always looking for cool new tools, too, so leave a comment below when you’re done reading!
Salesforce has made tremendous strides towards integrating social media elements within their software features. In March 2011, salesforce.com purchased Radian6 which helped bridge the gap between social CRM and traditional CRM. Radian 6, which is now part of the salesforce.com Marketing Cloud, helps you engage your customers in social media circles and interact with them on their terms to resolve issues and provide solutions that meet their needs. You can monitor what clients are saying about your company, use social analytics to create targeted campaigns, generate leads for your sales team, and provide a presence in the marketplace to improve your brand image with social CRM software. If your business relies on social media to communicate regularly with your customer base, it’s time to look into your CRM capabilities regarding social media features.
As we've advocated many times, businesses need to look internally at their current processes before deciding to purchase new technology to help solve whatever issue(s) they’re experiencing. Especially with social media, don’t rely on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms alone to fix the relationships with your customers. In the long run, your business will save tremendous amounts of time, money and effort when the investment falls in nurturing the customer relationship and providing positive experiences. Always prioritize customer emotions and customer experiences and your business will cultivate long-term, fruitful relationships with them. Loyalty always begets loyalty.We hope our 2-part series on customer loyalty has inspired you to review (and perhaps revise) your current customer service methods and processes. If you’re interested in integrating social media features within your CRM system, Harvest Solutions can help. We’re all in this social media craze together and we love to share our experiences and hear about yours.