It’s interesting that so many companies recognise the value of effective customer service, yet so few seem to have nailed the process. The key thing to realise is that good customer care - on social or otherwise - doesn’t just keep one customer happy, it can build reputation and business through word of mouth recommendations.
Customer service is marketing. But where does social media fit into the milieu of customer service channels? And why should you focus your customer care efforts on Facebook and Twitter?
Social media is where your customers are
There are 38 million active users of social media in the UK alone. Let that figure sink in and process its implications. There is no other platform that unifies as many people in one place. And with most brands having a presence on Facebook and Twitter, social represents the easiest touch point for customers and brands.
If a customer has a query, they are increasingly likely to request an answer through social media. If they have a problem, they will probably seek a solution through social media. If they want to convey negative feedback, it is likely to be - publicly - through social media.
Why, then, do only 26 per cent of companies ‘take social seriously as a customer service tool’?
You need to be where your customers are. Disgruntled customers will make complaints whether you’re there to answer them or not. But being there, and quickly, means you can head those complaints off before they result in damage to your brand and business.
Good customer service builds trust
Customer trust is an essential part of any successful business. The trust that you’ll deliver what you said you’ll deliver, when you said you’d deliver it. When a customer comes to you for a service or product they expect the transaction to occur without hassle on their part.
Of course, it’s human nature that mistakes do happen. Customers realise this and won’t blame you immediately - it’s how you handle those situations that says a lot about your business.
It’s your job to mitigate risk, to remove as many barriers to conversion - and therefore repeat conversion - as possible. The knowledge that a customer can quickly and easily return or exchange a product, for instance, builds trust in your brand. They know that they can make a repeat purchase without risk.
It’s far easier to keep a customer you’ve already won than it is to find a new one. Companies who ‘fail to respond to customers via social channels’ experience a 15 per cent higher churn rate than those who don’t.
Loyal advocates build new business
This is a step many businesses don’t see. Good customer service is a building block of marketing. It is about more than the satisfaction of one. Underestimate the power of word of mouth at your risk.
People talk - that’s a fact. Impress one customer and it’s likely they will recommend you to their friends a family, either now or further down the line. Please those connections and you’ve generated an ever-increasing net of brand advocates.
It can be difficult to invest in something so intangible as word of mouth recommendations, but you need to have faith that good business practices deliver new customers. And, at the very least, don’t damage your business in any way. The same principles apply to influencer marketing.
From one interaction you’ve not only secured repeat business from the initial customer, but potentially countless brand ambassadors. It’s the reason certain businesses, most visibly those in trade industries, can thrive on the back of loyalty and recommendations alone.
If there’s one takeaway I’d highlight, it’s that customer service is marketing. This is something that everyone in your business should understand. And the fact that customer service is increasingly shifting to social is a very clear reason for why your customer care efforts should focus there.
Anthony Rawlins is managing director at Digital Visitor