The PR Advantages of Social Media Customer Service in 2018
There is a lot more to a successful retail business than just offering fantastic products. An excellent, comprehensive marketing campaign helps a lot. But if all that advertising and brand building is not backed up by a reputation for taking care of customers then it may well have all been a waste of time and money.
Unfortunately, providing excellent customer service all too often gets lost in the shuffle and it is not just small businesses that damage their previously great reputation by providing poor customer service.
Remember the great Comcast customer service cancellation debacle? The company made the headlines internationally, but for all the wrong reasons and they have still yet to quite shake their reputation for appalling customer service.
The biggest lesson here is that in terms of public relations failing to provide great customer service can be a PR disaster. In a time of reduced budgets and increasing competition it can easy to let a commitment to customer service slide but that can – as many companies have found out – be a huge mistake.
Social Media as a Customer Service Platform
As many firms are finding out, social media sites are great places to extend and improve customer service options in order to satisfy their target markets without the need for a huge extra investment of time or money.
And doing so seems to work from a PR perspective as well. Increasingly those firms who do extend their customer service departments into the world of social media land tend to have better overall customer satisfaction ratings than those that don’t. For example, according to a report from Convince and Convert, answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25%.
Social Media and Customer Complaints
Even if you do not yet have a formal customer service plan in place for social media if you are ignoring customer complaints on these platforms you are already in trouble. It’s crucial to your brand reputation that you constantly monitor social media platforms respond to complaints before they injure your brand.
This does not just mean comments made directly on your social account pages. You need to be monitoring mentions of your brand across the social media universe, as just because you didn’t see something does not mean that others did not. They will judge a company on its response, or lack of it and ignorance is not a good defense.
While you are monitoring these mentions, you are presented with a new opportunity as well. Examples of clever, caring and/or innovative problem solving, or customer appreciation customer service can become great promotional content to boost your brand image,
A Word About Consistency
Before you get excited about the possibilities that offering social media based customer service opens up, you do need to ensure that you put a process in place that will ensure that inquiries will be responded to always. If a customer tries to contact you, and then receives no response, or one that’s very delayed, they are not going to be very happy and all of your initial good intentions will have been for nothing.
Part of this will need to involve keeping a very close eye on all the mentions about your brand. Which can sound like an impossible task. With so many options out there – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more – knowing just where consumers are trying to contact your brand can be a challenge.
One obvious answer is to follow the examples of the likes of Amazon and Xbox who set up specific social media accounts for customer service issues. Even then though you are likely to miss some mentions not directly made to your accounts (usually the rants) and thus opportunities to right wrongs and gain some great free PR.
Another option is to make use of a ‘social listening’ software. Theer are a number of offerings available right now and this article from Brandwatch offers reviews of 15 of the best free (or nearly free) services you might want to consider making use of to help you stay on top of what is being said about your business so that you have a chance to respond!