Perfecting Social Media Customer Care and 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid
Customers in 2018 expect immediate customer service via their preferred channel. This, of course, means readily available chat, email, or phone, but also social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. They want real two-way communication via these social channels, not auto-responses that don’t address the problem. These aren’t just platforms to share complaints and suggestions, but should ideally function as avenues for brands to satisfy people and make a real impact.
Unfortunately, many companies (even the big brands) aren’t doing social customer care the right way. Consider this story from a few years ago when Morton’s Steakhouse delighted its Twitter audience by delivering a meal to a diner at the Newark Airport. The diner sent a joking tweet about needing the meal, and the steakhouse pulled off delivery in just a few hours. This is a great example of a company using social media to exceed expectations, which is especially important for a company such as a high-end restaurant that prides itself on service.
JetBlue is another company that consistently earns high marks for its Twitter customer service. The company responds quickly to tweets but also takes the time to specifically answer questions, apologize for errors, and have fun with the responses. The JetBlue Twitter response team is allowed to engage with customers on a more personal level, which improves the levels of service and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, for every example of quality social-based care, there are dozens of examples of severe fails. Here are several examples of companies not utilizing social media to its full potential.
1. Employing Robotic Responses
Social media customer care must be personal, and should ideally involve some two-way responses between actual people. AI tools found in chatbot programs are also becoming extremely sophisticated and can be quite effective for social media responses. However, companies should also have human teams manning these social accounts in order to provide answers that are outside of the scope of AI-powered auto-responders.
Brands are better off not offering social media accounts if they won’t provide effective and accurate responses through either people or sophisticated AI. If, for example, Customer A offers a compliment, while Customer B launches into a tirade about the brand’s product, they both can’t receive a generic “thank you for your support!” return tweet via an auto-responder. These types of responses are very tone deaf and can quickly go viral, such as this response from American Airlines to a complaining customer.
The key for brands is to provide consistent service across any channel. They should treat social media customer care with the same attention as their email or chat. A smart strategy is to move social media responses from the marketing department to the support team. Marketing can still control the messaging and promotions via Twitter or Facebook, but they aren’t equipped to resolve customer issues. The modern approach is to develop a “customer engagement center,” which is a more consolidated group of staff and technologies that can respond to customers and track their engagement as they move from channel to channel.
2. Forgetting the Power of Social Analytics
Most brands use analytics within their call centers to gauge agent performance and ideally spot consistent customer issues. Unfortunately, few companies are directing analytics to their social media customer care. The phone is still the preferred and most predominant customer engagement channel but rarely will phone calls go viral. A poorly-phrased or tone-deaf tweet, on the other hand, can reach millions in minutes.
Advanced analytic tools can capture every spoken or typed word, brands can categorize all conversations and group together complaints about a new product, whether they come from chat, phone calls, or social. Armed with this data, the customer engagement center can gain insights into problem areas and then proactively fix the underlying issue. Perhaps there are unexplained shipping delays or bugs to software. In either case, an analytics tool can uncover patterns, which allows all departments to work together for issue resolution.
Analytics offer insight into the entire omnichannel customer journey and helps answer key questions. Are customers consistently pleased or unhappy with the company? Do they typically reach out via social, but are then frustrated and move their communication channel to email or phone? Brands can also use analytics to gauge agent performance across all of the channels. They can see if certain agents are better suited to social or phone calls, or if they’re better at managing certain types of issues such as returns, technical support, etc.
Firms can blend speech/text analytics with “buzz analytics” that looks for mentions of the brand on social channels. Buzz analytics develops sentiment scores and trend data that is a perfect complement to customer care analytics. It provides an even broader context to the industry and the brand’s perceived strengths and weaknesses. This data can inform the actions of individual staff as well as the overall management.
3. Ignoring the Customers’ Preferences
Companies that ignore their customers’ wishes are doomed to failure. If customers expect swift responses via Twitter, then firms should put in place staff and or technologies to support channel specific responses. It’s really that simple. Customers in the mobile age expect fast answers, not messages that don’t address the problem. Responding to tweets with a “call us” message doesn’t cater to the customer’s needs, it causes them to waste time and communicate in a manner that is increasingly foreign.
Companies should invest in social-based care, processes, and technology, and analytics technology that supports all channels. Consumers expect the same service across channels and it’s important that organizations meet those expectations, delivering effective care and timely responses.