When we consider the value of social media to business, we mostly consider its significance to marketing. The benefits of social media to marketing are enormous and almost every business person is aware of how valuable social media is to marketing. Another way of using social media that is of much significance to business yet so easily overlooked is using social media for customer service.
Customer service aims at providing support and assistance to the people who purchase a company’s products and/or services. The service or industry notwithstanding, making support available to your customer before, during and after the purchase of your product or service is essential to customer service.
Figure 1 – Tigo Ghana recently set up a Twitter account solely for customer service.
Some brands/businesses are deliberately giving support on social media (See Figure 1). A few have Social Media strategies in place on helping and assisting people who buy or use their company’s products and/or services. Most brands/business are however doing social customer service unconsciously. They may occasionally answer a few inquiries and respond to a few comments on their social media channels but these brands do not have proper structures in place for assisting the customer on social media. Delivering outstanding customer service on Social Media can boost a business alongside offline efforts aimed at growth. In this article and subsequent ones, we consider the importance, and workings of giving excellent social customer service.
Why social media?
Research has proven that one of the reasons why people choose to follow brands on social networks is to receive service and support. 🚶 🏃
Social media platforms allow for the creation, sharing and exchange of ideas and information online. This allows brands to have a personality. Most successful brands on social media (in terms of audience size and interactions) are the ones that know how to communicate in a human tone and to convey useful content while being fun and entertaining (See Figure 2). On social media, brands are easily accessible – they are at the fingertips of their customers. Customers therefore reach out to brands in real-time with their feedback or complaints in a more direct and conversational way. Today’s customer is soliciting customer service on social media more and more because Social Media allows him/her to connect with companies on a very personal level.
Figure 2 – This Company puts up a post about some items available for sale in their shop. One customer responds and shares his feelings about the tragedy that hit Accra on 4th June.
Customer: Oh really nice. But was sad since yesterday (sic)
Company: We are all saddened by yesterday’s incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to bereaved families. (sic)
With the advancement of technology comes rising customer service expectations. Customers now expect seamless experiences from the brick and mortar store to the company’s Social Media help desk. Whether companies like it or not, whether they are on social media or not there may be conversations about them on social media. When a customer makes contact on Social, it can be to ask questions, report satisfaction or complain (every brands worst nightmare)!😱
Within social networks and virtual communities, there is constant interaction, exchange, creation and sharing of information. These traits make social media a fantastic platform for offering care and even excellent customer care. It is very natural for the customer to resort to Social Media in the time of his/her need (Figure 3).
Figure 3 – A customer reaches out to his bank asking for help with his bank account number. This customer may be in a situation where he urgently needs his bank account number, the easiest way to get this may be through social media .
Customer: Please seid my acct number please to me (sic)
Bank: Hi. Thank you for contacting us. To get your account number, kindly text ‘myaccount’ to 08076665555 from your registered mobile number. Cheers(sic)
Getting customer service right on social media is important to brands for a number of reasons:
- Research and statistics show that most customers of a company use their social media channels to ask customer service questions. This is reason enough for businesses to ensure that they are able to help customers through social media.
- Social Media is a potential avenue to provide global support – Social Media makes it easier for your customer to get in touch with you from any part of the world. You can take advantage of the global feature of Social Media to dole out support to all your customers, their locations notwithstanding.
- Immediate – when your customers are upset, they want a response right away. Social Media provides immediacy for both parties, for the customer to ‘vent’ and for the company to respond immediately.
- Social media is a means to humanize your brand. When done right, your customers will feel like they are dealing with a person anytime they connect with your brand on Social Media.
- Customers resort to social media because it cuts down on the long protocols of reaching out to a brand. It is straight to the point.
- Offering excellent customer care on social media will help a brand to foster a deeper emotional connection and elicit some commitment to your brand.
- Consumers are affected by the responses to the questions they see raised by other people on a company’s social media page.
Figure 4 – A prospective customer goes to a Company’s page to inquire about the prices of items the company sells. The company responds with the prices.
Even if a business has a dedicated customer service department, telephone number, or email, it’s important to handle issues via the method of communication the consumer prefers (Figure 4).
The responsiveness of customer service is one of the key concerns of consumers when they make contact online. Most statistics show that companies are slow to respond when they are contacted on Social Media.
Providing social customer service makes a company accessible to its customer. Companies that are accessible and responsive to their customer needs can increase customer loyalty tremendously.
In our next article we discuss what brands must do in order to provide conscious customer service on Social Media.