Nike and Audi use Snapchat, the instant messaging app, to connect with their customers. Snapchat isn’t the most traditional communication channel one would see brands using, but by showing presence on the platform, these brands are meeting their customers where they are.
Customers spend most of their time on social media. Naturally, it makes sense for them to be able to perform other functions on these platforms too. In fact, the volume of consumers who preferred using social messaging for customer service jumped an impressive 110% in the pandemic year, and has been rising ever since. Not only do consumers wish to buy on social media, they like it if they can access customer service on the same platform for one reason — convenience.
Customer service organisations face increasing pressure to deliver better service over a broader range of social media and messaging channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp. Social media is one of the few places where it only takes a few clicks for customers to compare brands for their services, and research shows that upon finding a better support option, 30% of customers would switch.
Customers are online 24*7
“Enterprise businesses grapple with a world today where customers are sharing everything they think, feel, and know about brands. How the business is run, executive reputation and leadership styles, products, services, and the good, bad and ugly of ratings and reviews is fair game for public online discussion,” says Ragy Thomas, Founder and CEO at Sprinklr.
Social media has a great deal of power – it can make or break your reputation. Here are a few ways to go about your social media customer service strategy:
It is a common phenomenon to observe your social media feed filling up with product reviews and experiences with brands. One negative post leads to another, and before you know it, your customers are questioning their perception of the brand. With loads of data available online in the form of product reviews and ratings, brands can take the driver’s seat by using social listening to turn every review into a ticket. They can utilise this information to address common issues and be proactive rather than reactive.
2. Align timings for each channel
It is important to set expectations in advance so your customers have an idea of the kind of service they can access, and at what hours. For example, if you are available 24*7 on Instagram, but answering only during traditional work hours (9 AM to 5 PM) on Facebook, mention that on the respective channels so customers know what to expect. If you aren’t available for live support, it helps to inform customers about how long it would take to get back to them.
3. Set templates
For common queries on social media, set simple response templates that let customers know they are being heard and will be responded to. For example, when a customer leaves a comment on one of the brand’s social posts or uploads a negative review independently, the social media team could immediately respond with a phrase like “We are sorry to learn about that! Please give us some time to check with our team and get back to you.” or “Thank you for reaching out to us. We are working to resolve the issue!”
Think of these public messages as outgoing messages on phone calls. Brands should have a similar strategy set for DMs too, so when a customer reaches out, there is a fast response to acknowledge them.
When addressing a customer on a social platform, use their first name to add a personalised touch. Adding some context to the problem raised helps too. It is a simple trick but can go a long way in building your reputation as a brand. For example, “Thanks for letting us know about the hiccup in your travel plans, Nick! We’ll have you back on track in no time,” or “We’re sorry that burger didn’t taste well, Lisa 🙁 We are fixing the mayonnaise!”
5. Dedicated social media team
While brands can always set expectations by keeping their available times on display, it is better to stay one step ahead by having a dedicated team meant to handle all incoming queries on social platforms. A customer could be making a purchase at two at night, and if your customer service team is offline when the person is stuck on the payment page, it won’t take long for them to abandon the cart and switch to another brand available 24*7.
A social media handling team dedicated to working solely on the social channels can have a mix of agents working together to balance all incoming requests at all hours.
6. Make AI your partner
Seventy-seven per cent of consumers say AI/bots are helpful for simple issues, and 71% believe AI can help get faster replies.
Additionally, AI can learn which responses drive the most positive customer reactions and then present them to agents based on conversational context – ensuring consistent brand experiences from agent to agent while reducing the need for agents to memorise all the best practices.
7. Respect the customer’s privacy
A customer might reach out publicly on a social media platform, but when you have a conversation with them, there can be details like order ID or transaction number, etc., that they might not be comfortable sharing openly. In such cases, the agents must be trained to understand and quickly decide when to take a conversation to a DM. This not only respects the customer’s privacy but also gives them the feeling that they are valued.
8. Get an omnichannel tool
Customers today expect to engage with businesses on whichever digital channels they’re most comfortable using. They expect their issues to be resolved quickly, without too much effort on their part, and they don’t want to repeat the details over and over again. Studies show that 64% of consumers spend more when issues get resolved where they already are.
Companies must ensure they are effectively tracking and responding to customer inquiries from any social channel. The key is to unify your customer service across channels by accelerating time to resolution and eliminating costly escalations, saving you time, money, and customers. For example, the Omnichannel customer service software from Sprinklr Service brings case management, agent desktop, and customer data together in one place — creating a seamless agent experience that turns every conversation into a human experience.
The polishing touch
For customers, it is a vast pool of choices online. For brands, it is a maze they must cross carefully with all tricks in their pockets. Besides the basics, it is a good habit to perform regular assessments around customers’ preferred channels of engagement. If your customers use Twitter more than Instagram, you can direct your time and resources accordingly. In addition to responding to customer queries directly addressed to the brand, it is beneficial and necessary to browse for mentions of your brand on all social media platforms.
There could be conversations about your brand or a friendly banter around your competitors — these are potential opportunities to jump in with an answer or a quick-wit response to the dialogue. It helps to know where your customers are already hanging and interacting with you, or with other customers – about you.
As a brand, it also helps to establish and maintain a tone of voice across all your social channels. For example, people know Zomato to be humorous and friendly. All communication from Zomato’s handles or even from employees of Zomato would have the same tone everywhere; you won’t observe humour on Instagram but a firm tone on LinkedIn. The tone is consistent over all channels, and that helps build Zomato’s reputation as a team of people with a calm and relaxed mindset, willing to help out whenever and wherever.
Customer requests are as unpredictable as anything. But it’s not a tough game if you plan things and monitor online conversations. A little deep dive into the consumer psyche helps grasp most of what you can expect on a day-to-day basis, and for the occasional laps, having a unified dashboard to keep all your channel information in one place can go a long way in handling the situation at hand.