If a customer was to walk up to you right now with a complaint, you’d respond — right?
You’d be crazy not to. Yet an estimated 88% of inquiries to brands on social media go unanswered as brands struggle to keep up with increasing social inquiries and rising customer expectations.
Here are a few reasons why it’s important now, more than ever, to make sure you are providing the best customer service possible on social media:
- 67% of consumers use a company’s social media site for customer service (J.D. Power)
- 42% of customers who complain via social media expect a response within 60 minutes (Edison Research)
- Positive social customer care experiences make customers 3x more likely to recommend a brand (HBR)
- Customers also spend 20% to 40% more money with brands that engage with them on social.
It’s no wonder that last year, social strategists named “customer care” their #1 top priority, winning out over brand health for the first time ever. To keep customers happy and engaged, you need to listen to what they are saying and respond quickly and accurately.
Once you’re set up to listen effectively on social media, here are some tips on how to respond to some of the most common risks and opportunities you might encounter:
7 Customer Care Opportunities and Risks
Risks to Mitigate
1. Individual Complaint
Let’s start with the most basic social media customer service risk —when someone publicly mentions your brand in a complaint.
Don’t panic! First, you want to respond to the complaint within 60 minutes. 42% of people who complain on social expect a response within the hour, and a lack of response can lead to escalation in the short term and a negative brand perception in the long term.
In your response, request that they message you privately with more contact information to resolve their issue. Your goal here is to take the complaint offline as soon as possible. As Jay Baer says, “social customer service is a spectator sport,” so the faster you can take things offline, the better you can mitigate any damage. Many companies have a dedicated handle for help, separate from their main brand handle to deal with these complaints.
Here are two examples of this tactic in action:
You can see that Amazon answers promptly, then takes the question offline.
In this example, Panera still answers promptly, but they instead embrace the “spectator sport” and turn it into a brand opportunity. Panera often offers coupons to customers, showing everyone who is watching how great their customer service is.
2. Group Grievance
Website down? Product bug? You can count on the good people of social media to let you know about it (sometimes loudly).
Recently, Snapchat had an update in which you didn’t have to hold your finger down to get the filters, but now it’s just a tap to the screen. People asking Snapchat for help flooded Twitter. They added this message to help people out:
If you have a ton of people complaining about the same thing, first post a general message to let your customers know you are taking care of it. Then, decide what your brand defines as “urgent,” and respond to those posts first. Always remember — proactive communication is best.
In internet slang, a “troll” is someone who causes controversy online to provoke others into joining, often for nothing more than their own amusement. Trolls can be a risk for your brand. These kinds of people are always trying to catch you off your guard.
You can let this be a risk for your brand, or you can turn that risk into an opportunity, like Wendy’s does. Wendy’s uses humor to interact with negative social posts. They have gotten a lot of publicity from this, and it has come to really define their brand.
4. Brand Crisis
A brand crisis is when a risk is high profile to the point where everyone is weighing in.This may present as a group grievance that has escalated, a lawsuit or scandal, or disparagement by a high-profile individual
The biggest mistake in this kind of situation is to not respond at all. Just acknowledging the issue can save your brand’s reputation. These responses should be approved by your company’s legal department and posted within 24 hours.
For example, Amazon Web Services went down on the east coast on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. This affected hundreds of apps that use Amazon’s cloud servers for their services. Amazon Web Services’ Twitter account posted updates throughout the day to update their customers on the progress of getting these servers back up and running.
Opportunities to Amplify
5. Individual Compliment
Someone wrote something positive about you. YES! Now what?
We consider this to be more advanced engagement. You aren’t going to take the conversation offline or post a general post, but time is still of the essence. Go ahead and send them a personalized message within 24 hours mirroring the enthusiasm of the post and thanking them for writing about you. Look for people who haven’t tagged your brand but are still talking about you, too. This shows your customers that you are listening and are there for them.
Your brand could also go the extra step, like Southwest did. On March 2nd, Charlie tweeted to Southwest. He said that since it was Texas Independence Day, he thought that Southwest should provide Whataburger on all their flights. And of course, Southwest and Whataburger delivered.
6. Influencer Opportunity
When someone mentions your brand name and they have a large social media following or a large influence over their followers, this opens up the door. The first step here is the ability to identify this opportunity, which is easy if you have advanced listening software like Tracx in place.
The next step, of course, is to reach out about potentially collaborating on something to get your brand out there.
Here’s a great example of this happening in the beauty industry. Kathleen Lights is a makeup artist who has a YouTube channel with makeup tutorials. Colourpop reached out to her and they ended up collaborating on a new line of makeup, which they both promoted.
Want to know more about how influencer marketing could help you promote your brand? Download The ROI of Influencer Marketing here.
7. Relationship Building
Social media is all about building relationships, and making customers feel special is a big part of that. By engaging with your customers on social media, you are building a relationship with them. This is a huge opportunity to be fun and friendly with your customers.
Here’s a great example of Nike doing exactly this with a clever response to keep the conversation going:
Social Media Customer Service Is the Future
No matter which approach you decide to take, social media customer service is necessary to make sure you are listening to your customers and responding appropriately. You don’t want to be the next headline about angry customers and viral posts. Remember, 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
If you are already practicing excellent customer service on social media, try following up with your customers a few days after their complaint and ask them about their experience. This shows the customer you truly care about them. Or, try upping the ante and going the extra mile like Southwest did with Whataburger. There’s always room for improvement!