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The Challenges of Customer Service on Social Media and How to Overcome Them

Tamar Frumkin
By Tamar Frumkin on Sep 13, 2016 12:47:25 PM

Meeting the needs of customers whilst running a successful business can at times give rise to a number of challenges. These include expected response times, finding the right tone of voice to suit your client base, and adopting multi-channel strategies with unified conversation threading.

Since social media users now expect customer service on all channels, they naturally share both positive and negatives experiences in the form of questions on Twitter, photos on Instagram, or even a simple post on a brand’s Facebook page.

The way companies tackle these queries and statements helps maintain their brand’s reputation and even more so, in some cases win over new clients whilst keeping existing ones happy.

In fact, research has shown that between 2009 and 2014, the number of Twitter users using the platform for customer service doubled from 11% to 22%. As a result of this shift onto social media, customers are being given more power and control - having the choice of how to contact a company, whether it’s car hire company or a train service. Customers expect immediate and consistent responses.

What are the challenges?

Unrealistic timeframes: research found that 42% of people who ask a customer service related question on social media expect a reply within an hour. For a customer, the amount of time it takes to answer an enquiry is an indication of how important a company views their business.

Keeping a consistent tone of voice: customers expect consistency, which can prove tricky for businesses due to the different departments being in charge / visible / as the face of the brand on social media. With multiple channels on social media, the language and message given to customers is often at the risk of being confusing and inconsistent. Finding and delivering the same tone of voice on all platforms is essential.

Crisis management: being able to attend to an urgent matter or query before it escalates. News spreads quickly on social media and if a crisis isn’t addressed in as short a time frame as possible, your brand’s reputation is at stake.

Meeting expectations (or not): this study found that out of 40 leading UK retailers, less than half answered customer service related questions on the channel, despite 30 of the companies being on Twitter. The amount of time it took for customers to get a response on average was 8 hours and 37 minutes - far longer than the 1 hour customers are expecting.

This tweet by Easyjet for example, came two days after a customer had complained.

How to Overcome Them

Meet the client in their own space: This way your business can engage with and provide relevant information and customer service on all channels.

Social Listening: having a presence on social media channels allows your customer service agents to respond as soon as an issue arises. Many of these can be resolved before they escalate by being aware of when your brand is mentioned.

Identify brand advocates: use social listening to find and identify brand advocates. See who is talking positively about your brand and send them a message or show your appreciation by sharing their message with others.

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Address negative comments: be transparent and ensure a quick response. Give unsatisfied customers the feeling that they are being listened to, and always aim to resolve issues in channel.

Attempt to use any complaints and negative comments as an opportunity to approach and convert dissatisfied customers. They are likely to delete written negative comments or replace them with positive ones if given a reply by the company, according to this study.

Proactive customer service: a preemptive approach to customer service can save your company both time and money as it allows agents to pick up on problems before they actually become problems. Your business should make the first move, rather than the client having to ask for support.

Set expectations: If you aren’t available 24/7, let your customers know when you can be reached and always provide alternative options such as other channels.

There are various challenges when it comes to customer service, especially social customer service but with the right tools and with a good strategy, your brand can focus on the things that will make your customer service better and as a result, your customers happier.

Topics: Best Practices, Customer Experience

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