Seventy four percent of Americans used social media in 2014, according to Pew Research. Many of them are interacting with family and friends but they interact with businesses as well. You are probably already using social media sites in your marketing efforts but did you realize it has is quickly becoming the preferred method for customer service? Look at the stats:
70% of consumers would use channels other than the phone if they felt confident they could get a resolution on the first attempt. (Ovum)
Social customer care costs around $1 per interaction while phone support costs at least $6. (NM Incite)
This is a great opportunity to improve your customer service. Your first step is to make sure your profile on each social network presents a favorable story.
Your business page or profile should be set up correctly. Everything about it should emphasize your business, from the keywords used in the description to the title of the posts and status updates you’re making. Optimizing this page will ensure that those looking for you will find you when they enter certain keywords. Always complete all steps in setting up your page. Leaving gaps in your business description makes readers wonder if you are hiding something.
Fully completing your pages will keep your audience following you on social outlets. Keep your readers and customers interested by:
· Linking to blog posts and articles on your website
· Creating engaging posts and links to upcoming events pages
· Add a photo of yourself or your logo to your profiles
· Add links to your other social media business pages
· Include images as well as multimedia content such as video and audio
· Respond to comments made by readers in a timely manner
· Create engaging topics for discussion on your social media pages (by using posts and hashtags)
· Include business contact information
Once you create a social media presence, encourage others to check you out by featuring social media buttons on your website. Visitors can follow you as well as share your content with their social circle.
Determine your focus. Using more than one social network to reach your audience is smart, but keeping the message the same over each adds cohesiveness and makes the job of managing them simpler. Create a strategy for social media marketing as a whole and then implement it on the different sites. If you are a company that markets to customers, Pinterest is a great option, allowing you to help your readership “visualize” your brand. On the other hand, if you market to other businesses, LinkedIn and Twitter may be better than Facebook.
LinkedIn is actually a plus for all business owners. You can create a business profile as well as interact with other business professionals in forums. One way to connect and develop relationships with others is to participate in discussions while providing useful information to others. (Learn more about LinkedIn here.)
Now you have created your social media marketing strategy, discovered where your target market “hangs out” online and verified that each of your profiles presents the image you want to portray. Now what happens when someone leaves a negative comment about you or your business?
Remember to keep all of your interactions focused on your business. Always be courteous and professional when responding to questions and inquiries. Any negative comments or concerns expressed by customers are usually best handled offline or through a one-on-one email correspondence, but you don’t want to appear to be ignoring or worse, deleting, negative posts, so always address them publicly as well. Consider these stats:
66% of consumers expect a response on social media within an hour. 56% of consumers want a response within 30 minutes (Ovum)
72% of customers who post a complaint on Twitter expect a response within an hour (West Interactive Infographic)
Happy customers will spend 40% more with a brand (Bain & Co)
71% of consumers who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend the brand to others, compared with just 19% of customers who don’t get a response (NM Incite
As you can see, when you get a negative comment online, it’s important to act quickly to get it resolved. Let’s review some actionable steps for handling negative comments on line.
Start by taking a deep breath. It’s never a good idea to respond in anger or be defensive. This will give you time to gather your thoughts. Then access the comment. Determine what type of response the comment deserves in the first place. Is the commenter a current customer who is seeking a specific action? For example, they want to know how to return an item? Or is it a potential customer who can’t find what he/she wants on line? Each comment will need a different answer that addresses their specific problem. No “canned” responses! This will often make the situation worse as people will think it is an auto reply and no one at your company cares about their issue. Use customer service best practices when responding and always maintain a level of friendliness and cordiality. Always remember that everyone is listening to your conversation. Don’t just write your responses to the original commenter, but to everyone who may be reading.
It’s important co acknowledge the issue. Many times people just want to be noticed. Make sure you answer each comment (positive and negative). This is a good time to restate the problem in your own words. The purpose is to restate the question and verify that you understand. For example, your client says “I was not able to access the member’s area of your site.” This is actually a general comment that could have a variety of causes. You need to pinpoint what the breakdown was. Re-stating this you might say, “I understand you could not view the member’s area. Did you receive the log in and password?”
Give a sincere and honest apology. Remember as a child when you got in less trouble by admitting your mistakes? The same thing applies to business. Here’s how it may occur with a webinar. Unfortunately, webinar software occasionally has issues resulting in dropped connections or poor sound quality. If your client posts a complaint saying he/she couldn’t hear webinar, you might respond, “I am so sorry our webinar software had some glitches today. We are taking steps to assure the issue doesn’t occur again.”
This leads right into the next step which is to offer a solution. A significant portion of a marketing plan is to identify your target audiences pain points and show how you can solve them. When a customer posts a complaint, they are telling you what their pain point is. So they’ve done half the work for you! Now you offer them a win-win solution. Back to our previous complaint of a webinar dropping calls, the statement that “we are taking steps to assure the issue doesn’t occur again” does not solve the customer’s immediate pain point. Possible solutions may be to offer access to the call recording or to re-schedule the webinar for another date.
Finally there comes a point when you need to take it offline. It is not advisable to get into an argument with someone online. (Remember, other eyes are watching!) If the problem can’t be resolved in three messages, move the communication to email or phone. Social media platforms are powerful tools that can be used to harm your businesses reputation. Ignoring or refusing to answer negative comments will only harm your image further. If you acknowledge and resolve an issue, you will be seen in a positive light.