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3 Common Misunderstandings About What Customers Want

By Rachel Tran on Nov 7, 2012 4:53:00 PM

Social Customer Care Takeaway Series: Part 1 / 3

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing a 3-part blog series giving some simple takeaways on how to deliver better customer care. Here we take a look at common misunderstandings of how to best meet customer expectations.

3 Common Misunderstandings About What Customers Want

Social media has made communication with customers more accessible than ever. But how do you ensure you know what your customers actually want, and not just what you think they want?

Many businesses - an estimated 71% - claim to use social media for customer service, but a recent study found that many do not appear to be using it to its full potential, with only a small percentage fulfilling customer’ expectations for having their issues solved online. Are businesses still thinking about customer experience from the brand perspective, rather than taking a look at the customer’s point of view?

Here we list three common social customer service faux pas that can be mistaken for better social engagement.

1. Sharing too much.
Twitter is a simple and efficient way of taking your message far and wide, and offering added value to followers. But there is a thin line between marketing effectively to your audience and spamming them. Excessive Twitter updates could result in a haemorrhage of followers and a bad social reputation; potentially even a social media crisis. Topshop was recently criticized for flooding timelines with marketing messages from their new Halloween Twitter campaign, #TrickorTweet. These were intended to be directed at media publications - a valuable use of the platform - but one which forgets the experience of all other followers. It’s important to spare a thought foreveryone who will be seeing a tweet - do they want to? Twitter’s a tricky platform; your follower base might be extremely diverse and you can’t please everyone with every tweet, but mass tweeting doesn’t build good relationships with customers. Carefully considered and sparingly selected content will go much further.

2. Keeping negativity at bay
A mistake often made by even some of the biggest companies on Facebook is disabling the ability for customers to post on their wall. Although this may sound like a good idea at first, to prevent negative comments being displayed for the world to see; in the long term it can cause more damage to your brand reputation. Customers and fans will not be discouraged from speaking their mind if they have something to say, but they will more likely hijack marketing updates with negative customer experiences or customer service queries. Telecommunications company TalkTalk has recently disabled comments on their wall, resulting in negative backlash spreading to their Facebook marketing campaigns about poor customer service experiences. Companies should try and remember that wall posts are only visible to people who visit the page directly, but complaints on page updates can be spread around the news feeds of all other fans.  Enabling wall posts from customers also offers a great opportunity for companies to show that they’re listening, and might dampen that anger a little before it goes public. 

3. Steering Customer Complaints
Companies who disable comments on Facebook walls often turn customers to a dedicated Facebook app as an alternative. This may seem like an efficient substitute, but is in reality ineffective at providing great customer service online. Social customer service is all about convenience, offering a simple way to speak directly to the brands we shop from – at home or on the go from their mobile devices (research shows 20% of tweets about an experience with a brand are done in-store). Forcing use of a customer service app – and redirecting customers off the wall – means the customer has to put in the work to get in contact with the company. Not the kind of social experience we hope for.

That’s not to say that apps are bad news - if offered alongside an open wall, customers have a choice in how to reach out. Some companies taking this approach include Walmart, who has a Feedback app where all questions are responded to; Walgreens has “Answers” for health queries; and Delta Airlines has a “Delta Assist” app for any customer enquiry. In reality, these only persuade a minority of fans to take their problems away from the wall, but can be valuable in providing options all your different customers.

Today, social media is a customer service channel, a marketing channel, an engagement channel and a networking channel - and it’s important to bear all of these needs in mind to ensure customers have a great experience with your company every time. Over-exposure, censorship or redirection might be a temptation for those focused on brand image, but it’s important to remember that consumers turn to social media for ease, empowerment and a relationship with a company that’s more on their terms. By avoiding these three seemingly common slip-ups, companies can do their social reputations a world of good.

Look out for part 2 of our Social Customer Care Takeaway series, 3 Simple Touches to go that Extra Mile!

What other misunderstandings are often made by businesses about the social experience? How well do you think dedicated customer service tabs on Facebook work alongside a public wall? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below!

Got any suggestion for what you’d like to hear from us? Send them over to Rachel@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas!

Topics: Customer Service

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