Customer engagement expert challenges brands to take social media more seriously as a customer service tool, as the smallest of mishaps get too much attention28/07/2015, London, UK
Social media remains an underused and underestimated tool when it comes to customer service and businesses are risking damaging both customer relationships and their brand if they don’t change.
According to Dave Ogden, Customer Experience Consultant at Aspect Software: “Even in this day and age when so many of us are connected through Twitter and Facebook, too many companies are subscribing to the myths that it's cheap, easy, and it isn’t important because customers don't treat it as seriously as they would calling a contact centre. Not true.
“Customer service departments that don’t recognise the key part that social media plays in offering a positive experience – and as part of the entire customer journey – are playing a very dangerous game. People don’t want to be stuck on the phone anymore to talk to a business, they want to be able to make contact through a channel of their choosing, and companies need to be there for them. Bad – or even mediocre – social media by companies can leave a lasting effect.
“A recent article from the Assistant Editor of the Metro on his ordeal dealing with Pizza Hut on Twitter who after repeatedly tweeting and emailing only received a response days after the initial order had been placed highlights this. However, social media customer service can also be good; just look at the brands whose interactions with customers has got them national recognition in the media,” Ogden said.
Ogden believes that there are five social media myths that businesses need to combat:
1 – Social media is the marketing department’s job
Social media should not be treated like a subordinate task that you can simply palm off to the nearest intern or marketing exec, or even thrown in with push marketing as part of the same digital strategy. Broadcasting on social media and actually using it as a communication tool are two totally different things requiring totally different skill sets. If the person running your accounts doesn’t have a full understanding of your organisation and the experience to deal with complaints, they are going to end up saying or doing the wrong thing and customers will not be forgiving. For bigger brands, running customer-facing social media entirely from the marketing department is surely unsustainable; integrate it into the contact centre and put the customer management skills of the agents to their best use.
2 – Social media should be treated separately from other customer service channels
Today’s consumer is always connected, highly mobile, and is in control of how they interact with the companies that they buy from. In the same way that nobody wants to repeat themselves when they’re on the phone with a contact centre and being passed between agents and team leaders, nobody wants to have to repeat their enquiry on Twitter if they initiated the original contact on the phone. Social media is part of today’s omni-channel customer contact strategies, and should be integrated with other channels for complete consistency, context, and speed. It also plays a key role in modern self-service strategies; research from IBM into retail customer service showed that 72 per cent of customers preferred self-service to picking up the phone, showing that customers are increasingly looking to take control of issues and resolve them for themselves.
3 – Customers don’t expect a quick response
As a channel, many brands still struggle to deal with emails – many still advise via an instant automated response that individual enquiries will be dealt with within 24 – 48 hours or even several working days. Typically email can be used for more complex enquiries when a customer does not want to use the phone or feels it can better be explained in text. Social media is shorter in content, instantly sent and is easier for a customer to use for less complex enquiries. Remember, social media pushes your brand to the forefront of a global market, to potentially millions of consumers. Also, if you receive a complaint from a customer and it is just left ignored for hours on end, all you are going to do is exacerbate the situation further, so make sure responses are quickly dealt with (within minutes, not hours or days), first time.
4 – Customers don’t take it seriously
Most of us are on social media and most of us have the capability to access it wherever we are. It is a channel we use to interact with one another, whether its friends, celebrities or businesses, on a global scale – if that’s not serious, I don’t know what is. It absolutely has to be treated as importantly as other more “traditional” channels.
5 – Companies need lots of expensive technology to manage social media
The resources you need are right in front of you; if you’re a small business, free tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite can help make using social media across multiple accounts an easier task. Managing your organisation’s social media is not as time consuming as many believe; it just needs to receive necessary attention and care. For companies with an active customer base on social media or larger enterprises, the opportunity cost of not investing in social media can be devastating. Analytics can be extremely valuable in everything from identifying the kind of content people respond better to (in terms of broadcast), to looking at the most frequently asked questions and what time is best to respond to followers, which can help to shape a forward-thinking multi-channel self-service strategy.
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