It’s all too familiar a story. With over 900 million people on Facebook, and with Twitter expected to surpass 250 million in 2012, we all want to “go social.” Brands included; but there’s the rub. The enterprise and large brands are clamoring to gain control over their reputation online and simultaneously figure out just how to nail down ROI on their social investments. The key: brands can’t control their reputation because it belongs to their customers. So, success lies not in trying to polish an image but in getting social customer care right. Yes, that department once relegated to ringing phones, lengthy IVR trees and email responses. The fact is for most brands customer care generates more conversations on the social web in a day than marketing does in a month.
Ironically, three out of five brands claim to use social media, but the reality is that more than 70 percent of tweets to companies go unanswered and only 5 percent of Facebook wall posts on brand pages ever receive answers. Think about it: most brands are all over the social web with advertising, but precious few are actually listening and responding to customers. Failing to respond on the social web is considerably worse than letting a customers phone call go unanswered. The failure is public.
Whether you have 100 customers or hundreds of millions, here are five best practices for mastering social and turning customers into brand advocates:
Do not wait for your customers to demand a response. Being social means being transparent. If you have a service outage, a security crisis or anything happening that has a direct impact on your customers, tell them about it. Keep them updated on your progress. It will save you money. Being proactive in explaining the situation and responding to customers concerns and questions shows them you care. You may be surprised how a thoughtful response can turn a customer who is loud and angry into a brand advocate and customer for life.
Engage the Community
Social should not live in marketing and PR only. Customer service is becoming a brand engine. Almost one in five customers surveyed (17 percent) have used social media in the past year to get a service response and those who receive great service tell an average of 42 people (compared to 9 for social absentees). That is a huge business opportunity for you. Marketing and public relations disseminate your company’s message and keep the community updated on news. When it comes to measurement, success metrics for marketing are built around share of voice and reputation, generally measured weekly or quarterly. Compare this with an active social customer care team: customer support on the social web requires the capability to engage and triage requests, and responding in real-time through one-on-one conversations. In means resolving issues in mere moments, and turning that customer into an advocate on the spot. Now that is power.
Create a Response Strategy
Create a triage and response strategy. Responding to everything (despite what many social media professionals will tell you) can and will result in your brand’s social accounts ”going directly to jail.” Stick to posts sent directly to you, or those making a direct request for assistance. When scaling social media activities, all posts are NOT created equal. If you are dealing with thousands or hundreds of thousands of social posts, that is a lot of activity to monitor and take action on. Providing intelligence on who your social customer care agents are communicating with will help your team prioritize. A new customer tweeting about a support issue may take priority over a squeaky wheel that you find yourself dealing with all the time because they have a tendency to complain. Why? Because where the former may be a candidate for “brand evangelist” or superfan status, the latter may be a dedicated complainer. You need to know the difference and broad-brush sentiment analysis isn’t going to get you there. Participating one-on-one will.
Train employees on the proper response techniques. Messing up on a service call can land an agent in the supervisor’s office. Making a mistake on the social web can land your CEO in court. Remember, when you’re using social channels, everything is public and sharing is as easy as one click. Just because the conversation started on social doesn’t mean it must end there. Leverage all the tools you have available to you: CRM, listening services, Twitter, Facebook, email, the phone, online chat, etc., to best serve your customers. You want to make sure that your team has what they need on hand to resolve queries including knowledge management articles, customer records, coupons or a standardized response.
Establish your success metrics. As with any initiative, benchmarking the state of the company and putting in place metrics — ahead of time — so you know what is really working is essential. Tracking the number of social posts, retweets, responses, comments, etc. seems logical but what about integrating the metrics you have been using for decades? When it comes to social customer service, integrating SLA-driven analytics will help you drive your bottom line, hold team members accountable and provide you with basis for establishing an ROI.
About the Author
Dave Evans is Co-Founder and VP of social strategy at Social Dynamx, an Austin, TX-based firm involved in the processes that link customer service and the social Web. Dave is also the author of best-selling “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day,” as well as “Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement.” Dave is a frequent keynoter, and leads social technology and measurement workshops with the American Marketing Association as well as Social Media Executive Seminars, a C-level business-training provider.
Dave has worked in social technology consulting and development around the world: with India’s Publicis|2020media and its clients including the Bengaluru International Airport, Intel, Dell, United Brands, and Pepsico and with Austin’s FG SQUARED and GSD&M| IdeaCity and clients including PGi, Southwest Airlines, AARP, Wal-Mart, and the PGA TOUR. Dave serves on the advisory boards for social technology startups including Palo Alto-based Friend2Friend and Mountain View-based Netbase.