Social Customer Service: It’s More Than FAQs

Thanks to the prevalence of social media, customers can influence companies more than ever. That’s led to the rise of “social customer service.” Certain companies excel in it: Virgin America, Starbucks and Nordstrom come immediately to mind.

Those companies (and many more) recognize the importance of social customer service on ROI. A 2014 report from the Aberdeen Group showed those companies not only saw a 5.6 percent YoY increase in first-contact engagements, they saw fewer unhappy customers—leading to higher customer retention.

For startups, it’s important to recognize the value of customer retention and how it can affect your business. Companies that have recognized the value of social customer service (i.e. Uber, Jawbone, and Hulu) have been able to successfully scale their businesses by responding immediately to positive and negative feedback, engaging across multiple platforms, and providing transparency to consumers.

That being said, there’s more to social customer service then responding on Twitter or Facebook. There needs to be a scalable infrastructure that can withstand crisis. In order to start building out that infrastructure, you need a plan, centered on two things: knowing your customer, and streamlining communication.

Know Your Customer. Knowing your happy customers isn’t going to get you anywhere. While they are the champions of your brand, purchasing from you on a regular basis, your unhappy customers are the ones who will cause you trouble if you aren’t quick to respond to their needs. As you continue to grow your business, it’s important to recognize the potential loss in revenue associated with unhappy, sometimes loud customers. Consumers take to social media when they feel there’s no other choice. Be cognizant of that and make sure that you aren’t just tracking your social handle: track hashtags that are relevant to your brand and customer experience.

Streamline Communication. To be in marketing, you need to be an effective communicator. You need to do more than provide an answer when a customer is upset; you need to understand why they’re upset, and make them feel that they’re being listened to. Without that, your response (however correct) could just anger them more. As your business grows, take the time to design and streamline angry-customer scenarios; that’ll prevent any future molehills from turning into mountains. By segmenting complaints or concerns, you can create different resolution paths for your customers that make them feel heard, appreciated, and attended to.

These are just some of the things that should be considered with regard to customer engagement and retention. While there’s never one answer to every problem, there is always a starting point.

Till next month,


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