According to a recent Pew study, nearly two-thirds of American adults use social media. Odds are, that number encompasses a huge percentage of the customers you do business with – and with an even more staggering 90 percent of young Americans (aged 18-29) active on social networks, having an effective social media strategy is critical to the future success of every business.
Like it or not, social media has become an effective channel for customers to voice complaints – knowing that the public nature of their dissatisfaction is more likely to generate a response than a private phone call or email.
However, customers also turn to social networks to tout amazing service experiences. Companies like Zappos and Ritz-Carlton often get social love for their great service, and some of their stories have gone viral, earning them thousands of positive impressions with would-be customers.
How can you ensure that your social reputation attracts new customers, instead of scaring them away? Start with these three strategies:
Strategy #1: Be responsive
The chances are good that – as a customer – you have had at least one incredibly frustrating experience in which you’ve been forced to wait indefinitely on a customer service hotline, so you understand just how stressful it can be. In today’s ultra-connected world, instant responses are expected, and when that expectation isn’t met, frustrations become heightened. Customers who are forced to wait extended periods of time for a reply are more likely to turn to social media to vent their frustrations.
Ensuring your team is responding rapidly to customer inquiries – whether they come via social media or over traditional channels like phone, email, or chat – is key to keeping customers happy and avoiding negative attention. Who knows, a customer might just be so impressed with your speedy reply that they share the love!
Strategy #2: Take negative interactions offline
Mistakes happen, and sometimes they result in customers who are very publicly unhappy. In these situations, it’s always best to send a brief and polite direct message to the customer acknowledging their issue and indicating that you’d love to help solve the problem for them. Try to move the conversation to a more private forum by inviting them to contact you via a direct phone number or e-mail address.
Keep in mind, if you’re asking customers to contact you on a different channel (or promising to contact them), it’s crucial that you follow through on that commitment in a timely and efficient fashion. Go above and beyond to make things right for the customer; sometimes, the most unhappy customers, when given sincere and thoughtful support, can become your biggest brand evangelists.
Strategy #3: Give customers an opportunity to share positive experiences
Sadly, it often seems like most social media mentions of customer service experiences are negative. What if you could change that? What if, every time one of your customers had an amazing experience with your company, you gave them an immediate opportunity to socially share their joy?
Clients of Stella Connect are doing just that. As part of the Stella Connect feedback requests sent to customers after every sales or service interaction, customers are encouraged to share their positive experiences across social.
A quick Twitter search for “JetHeads” (the name that Jet.com gives their front-line staff) turns up thousands of mentions from customers touting their positive experiences with the brand, often thanking the agent who helped them by name.
— Kimberly Barth (@KimberlyBarth) July 1, 2016