Social media websites have become an integral part in the lives of millions of consumers around the world. Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report revealed that more than 50% of US consumers actively use social media platforms to engage with various companies. Any business not utilizing social media channels risk losing out on exposure and direct interaction with the customers. Ali Dahmash, Marketing Strategist, Social Media Consultant and CEO & Founder of REACH 2.0 says, “There is no doubt that social media platforms are the new alternative media used not only by the youth but also by the majority of people under the age of 55. Companies should make use of that by having a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook.”
Companies, as part of their multi-channel support, should ensure a social media presence, which enhances the customer experience, in addition to positively impacting sales and brand loyalty. Social media serves as a convenient interaction platform between customer service representatives and the customers. Commenting on the rising popularity of organizations using social media in the Middle East, Ali Dahmash tells us, “Companies in the Middle East are joining the bandwagon. Consumers are sending their inquiries to telecom companies, restaurants, shopping malls and banks. I see it spreading across the Middle East.”
Here are some guidelines for companies on how to provide improved customer support and better services via social media:
Choose Appropriate Social Media Platforms
Firstly, it is of utmost importance to determine which social media platforms to use. Identify the right channel for your business which requires deployment of time and effort. Facebook and Twitter, being the most popular platforms, should be the primary focus of customer service teams. Additionally, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram could be explored to increase social media presence. In order to determine which platforms are more popular with customers of a particular brand, it is important to create a buzz by starting a dialogue about the brand. Don’t rely on users alone, customer service representatives need to initiate a dialogue and engage in conversations relevant to the industry. Ali Dahmash commenting on the need to choose the appropriate social media platform said, “First of all businesses need to understand where their audiences are. Are they on Twitter Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+? What topics are they interested in? A business should keep the followers and fans engaged all the time with rich and valuable content. They should post added value tips, customer support info, frequently asked questions. Content is King in social media.”
Heed Customers’ Suggestions
There are multiple social media monitoring tools available that streamline the process through which mentions of brand names can be traced. Alternatively, specific keywords can be examined on social media pages to determine what customers are talking about. This would help the company determine the issues being raised over social media and address them accordingly. Make sure you take note of the concerns of your customers. Always value their feedback and suggestions.
In 2012, Oracle conducted a survey which revealed that 43% of the visitors valued direct response from the company’s social media page.
Social media platforms require quick response time. Customer representatives can’t take days to respond to customers’ queries and concerns. Social media should ideally work like Live help, just like phone or live chat service. Customers come to social media platforms for instantaneous help and response. Customer service teams should maintain a swift response mechanism, which should be done by checking/answering queries several times a day.
According to Ali Dahmash, “The response time to any request should be within 15 minutes during the working hours (9am-5pm) and within 1 hour after working hours. I recommend assigning a moderator after working hours and during the weekends and public holidays to the business social media accounts”. He also added, “Companies should utilize these platforms and have a team dedicated to respond to customer inquiries and complains.”
No matter how active a company is on social media platforms, at the end of the day it is about helping customers out, facilitating their needs and being there for assistance. This means that quality of customer care a company provides on social media platforms is paramount to the success of overall social media strategy. Customer service representatives should be trained to dispense accurate information in a timely fashion. They must have a friendly and welcoming attitude towards customers.