Relying on social media for the sole purpose of catching up with friends is gradually fading out. Consumer reliance on social media for communication with brands and businesses are increasing. It seems leaving a post, comment or message on a brand’s social page is easier than the hoops you have to jump through to speak to a customer service representative at a call centre. Patiently listening to all the numbers you have to press on the voicemail of your call centre to get your problem solved can be cumbersome! Customers are contacting brands more and more over social for support. Even within Social, customers have so many ways to contact businesses now. This can be a challenge. Businesses, therefore, need to prepare for the growing number of interactions with their customers on these new channels.
Why should Ghanaian businesses and brands exploit Facebook for customer service and support? Your consumers carry Facebook around and about – on their mobile devices. This makes accessing Facebook easy. This is reason enough to consider delivering customer service on Facebook. Some other reasons which make Facebook part of your customer service plan vital include:
- Zero cost for Customers, cheaper for brands: Some Telco’s have been offering Facebook for free for a while now courtesy of the Internet.org initiative of Facebook. Since July, 27th Facebook has opened up Internet.org to all mobile operators. This makes it possible for Facebook to be free on all mobile networks which subscribe to this service. org is making it easier for any mobile operator to sign up to offer free internet access to basic online too.
- Usage: The average Facebook user spends 42minutes a day on Facebook. Your customer is already spending time here – it is much less of an inconvenience for the customer to reach out to your brand here.
- Numbers: A majority of people who are on Social Media subscribe to Facebook which happens to be one of the most popular social media networks if not the most popular in the country. Facebook has over 1 billion users worldwide, 80% of those are on mobile. According to a survey of mobile phone usage in Ghana and four other African countries, 51% of respondents in Ghana reported that they use their phones to access the internet.
Early birds to Facebook saw it as an opportunity to put a face to their brand – that is humanizing their brand. But when they started communicating, customers began to talk back at them. Social Media unlike any other platform is ‘social’. People go there to socialize. Getting help is part of socializing. Brands are realizing that being on Social Media is not all about marketing anymore. Brands that can deliver effective customer service on Social Media have a competitive edge.
Though classified as a social media channel like (Twitter, Instagram etc), Facebook retains unique characteristics which companies must take into account if they hope to maintain a high-quality level of service. Accordingly, customer service over Facebook must be conducted differently. Here are a few tips to effective Customer Service over Facebook.
A few weeks ago I was doing some research about a particular brand which had contacted me. I went on Facebook and typed their name in the search box but nothing was showing up in the results. I was surprised a brand of their stature had no presence at all on Facebook. I realized later when I tried the Facebook button on their website that they were using their tagline and not their brand name. Please remember that your fans will inadvertently search for you on Facebook. They are likely to use your brand name than any other unknown company name or company tagline.
- Use and obvious name
- Use good keywords in the about session. This will get your page to rank in Google search. Do a Google search and a Facebook search on your brand from time to time.
- Cover image: Use your Facebook Cover to profusely indicate your purpose. This will be a pointer, immediately your customer lands on your page. See figure
- When using hashtags ensure that they are Easy to remember.
Vodafone Ghana uses– #HappyToHelp and Tigo uses #TigoCares. Which of these is easier to remember in your opinion?
Figure 1 – the cover on Vodafone Ghana’s Facebook page indicates that the page is for customer support and advertises other support channels.
- Call to action button – Facebook has a call to action feature for pages. You can select from a group of call-to-action buttons to add to the top of their Page. The seven call to action buttons available are:
- Book Now
- Contact Us
- Use App
- Play Game
- Shop Now
- Sign Up
- Watch Video
Brands need to consider how these features can assist in their customer support efforts. For example, you can make your customers sign-up to receive news and updates on your products first. Another way is to make a video of the commonest problem your customers contact you with. It all depends on your products and services.
There are also opportunities to support your prospects or customers through advertising on Facebook. Facebook advertising feature Call-to-Action buttons that allow businesses to connect with their local audience and drive offline sales:
- Call Now – With this feature, customers can call you directly from your advert in the News Feed. When they click on the “Call Now” button in the advert, their phone will automatically dial your business.
- Get Directions – When a person clicks on the “Get Directions” button, they will be guided directly to your location directly from their phone.
- Managing communication
- Your Wall – to open or to close? Facebook allows customers to share information in public by posting on a company wall. You can enable this feature and keep your wall open. To prevent people from posting on your wall you can disable or close it. There are two arguments concerning walls. One school of thought holds that customers are talking about their brands anyway so they might as well talk to ‘them’ about the brand. Others think that having your wall open can get crazy especially for big brands with tons of user engagement. To them, it can be like trying to look inside a bottle with two eyes. For this reason, they keep their wall close so that they can manage incoming communication.
- Comments on post – can be a big challenge especially for pages with a huge engagement. Service Representatives will have to sift messages to weed out complaints, compliments, queries etc. See figure 2.
Figure 2 – A customer goes to post his service issue under the reviews section of this Telco’s page.
- Messages – Customers can also contact you directly via private messages on your page. You would have to enable this feature. It is a good idea to enable this feature so that sensitive conversations with the customer can be had away from the public stage. Note however that opening this is also creating an additional channel to manage.
- Of trolls, spammers and haters – watch out for spammers, profanity; keep your site clean and tasteful. A way to do this is to have guidelines or house rules to guide expected behavior on the page. This will help you manage the nature of interactions on your page. Clearly spell out what is appropriate and inappropriate. Be on the watch out for spammers and delete and ban such users. Try getting to the bottom of your critic’s problem. If you realize that they are just being nasty for the sake of it, take drastic actions. Ban those users. See figure 3
Figure 3- On the page of Celebrity Yvonne Okoro. She is advertising her movie, someone spams with comments about “beauty” products.
- Humanize your brand – make your page more human and more relatable.
- Signatures – To make your brand more human, you can adopt the strategy of customer service representatives identifying themselves by their first names or at least initials when they communicate with the customer. See figure 3. You can also do behind the scenes sneak peeks once a while. That is if it suits your brand policies.
- Be responsive – be quick to respond and acknowledge customer comments. You may not have a ready answer for the customer but a boilerplate response to buy time will assure the customer. Do not post identical and scripted corporate responses to everyone who comments on your wall.
- Picture/profile the customer – take note of little details which come out in the chat. You can ask leading questions too. Give your customer or prospect a more personal brand experience. Customize your approach to the customer. You can even go on the person’s page for bits of info if you have the time.
- Acknowledge the Happy Customers who compliment your brand and efforts.
- Resource properly: – Your customer service representatives on Facebook should be people who are authorized to take action. Please visit exactmedia.wordpress.com/ if you missed last week’s article in which we discussed the Customer Representative on Social Media.
Figure 4 – Abigail of Vodafone signs after interacting with customers.
- Put up Self-help content: Post self help tips/manuals and promote self service. This will stop your main page from getting clogged up with complaints and issues. Woodin on its page posts helpful tips on how to care for their fabrics. See figure 4. Airtel Ghana has a self-help application which you can download to your Smartphone – see figure 5. This is outside social media but the logic of providing self help holds.
- Create a dedicated Facebook app or tabto deal with customer service issues. A brand can make a customized support application on the page. This appears on the lower left corner.
- Post prices on items for sale and offers – some may ask but a huge chunk will be reduced. See figure 4
Figure 6- The #AirtelCareApp available for download on mobile devices – a way of offering self help to the customer.
Being on Social Media leave brands open to consumer criticism. On the other hand, Facebook is one of the best venues in which to turn your customers’ negative comments into brand opportunities. Consumers know this and therefore have more respect for companies that encourage feedback and respond in a timely and thorough manner. Unfortunately, many brands still do not incorporate customer service into their social strategy.
Airtel Ghana has been recognized as the most Socially Devoted brand by Socialbakers, a global social media analytics firm for attaining a 77% Total Response Rate on Facebook for the first quarter of 2015. Any experiences of good or bad social customer service by a Ghanaian brand?
Being on Social is a sign that you are open for business. It means ‘Talk to us!’, ‘We would love to hear your experiences!’ Customers recognize this and expect to see a brand engaging with customers on Facebook. Do not then leave comments there to rot. Remember that, there are “silent” customers who may not add comments or likes (basically, VALUE) to your brand’s Facebook page. They are still watching and how you deliver service on your Social Channels may inform purchase decisions, loyalty and advocacy.
Parature: Parature is a cloud-based software that lets you integrate a dedicated, 24/7 customer service centre into your business’s Facebook page. Customer service solutions you can incorporate include self-service, a self-service knowledge base – Parature Knowledge Base, a ticket customer support system – Parature Ticket and chat – Parature Chat. Mobile accessibility means your Parature Service Desk and Portal can be accessed via all major mobile and tablet devices. Prices vary based on number of users within your business. Visit www.parature.com for more information.
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