Customers may be turning to social media for their customer service needs, but companies aren’t keeping up and 80 percent of customer service queries are ignored on social media. While the data indicated that companies with bigger social media followings are least likely to respond, the fact is that companies need to develop a strategy to address this shortcoming.
Janae DeRusso, branding and content strategist for digital marketing agency Overit, has a few tips for responding to customer feedback on social channels.
- Respond as soon as possible. You wouldn’t ignore a customer if they walked up or called the store. The same should apply to social media, says DeRusso. The main difference is that social media channels don’t shut down when the brick-and-mortar offices close. While DeRusso acknowledges that not all companies have a staff member available for responding to social channels 24/7, companies should strive to be responsive at all times.
- Respond to all feedback — good, bad or indifferent. Despite expert advice telling marketers that social media channels are conversational, many brands simply don’t get it. DeRusso says it’s important to show you’re listening. If someone took the time to praise your product, your service or an employee at your company, you should thank them. “Show your appreciation for their feedback and for being a customer. If people can tell you pay attention, others will be encouraged to share their own positive experiences.”
- Respond to complaints. More often than not, customers return because of a positive experience. Even if something goes wrong, if you make every effort to resolve a complaint, the customer will still sing your company’s praises. According to DeRusso, if the complaint is made on a public forum such as Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to respond publicly as well. “Other social users will see that you did your best to fix the situation, and they’ll be more likely to choose to work with you,” she says.
- Respond to all feedback. You never know, someone might have a suggestion for what your brand should offer. DeRusso says you should acknowledge the person for the feedback. “Thank them for taking the time to suggest something they believe will benefit your brand. Rather than ignore them, they’ll feel good knowing they were heard,” she says, adding that this kind of acknowledgement can turn people into brand advocates. “Don’t lose that relationship by turning a blind eye to what they have to say.”
- Know when to respond individually, and when to respond to the group. In most cases, responses must be handled on an individual basis. But what do you do when you ask a question on Facebook and you get responses from 50 fans? You might not be able to respond to all 50 people and that’s okay, says DeRusso. Thank everyone for their contributions. You can also use this as an engagement opportunity by asking a question in the comments that encourages the conversation to continue. The key is to make it clear that your post wasn’t just shared by some automated robot. “Don’t just post your initial status and then leave the post forever.”
- Know when it’s time to move the conversation to a private forum. While it’s important to acknowledge a public complaint with a public response, sometimes issues aren’t resolved so easily. DeRusso says, “Don’t engage in a lengthy public conversation, especially if one side becomes argumentative.” Instead, she recommends promptly offering to contact the customer by phone or e-mail to expedite the problem-solving process.
Photo Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative