Mastering Social Customer Service & Social Listening
Easy access to the internet and the popularity of smart devices have habituated consumers to round-the-clock access to goods and services. Meanwhile, the emergence of cloud computing has enabled companies of all sizes to digitally transform their businesses to satisfy the demands of consumers who are no longer constrained by the limited business hours of brick and mortar stores. This migration of business to cyberspace got another boost with the rise of social media platforms. Digital marketing opened the doors to the fine-tuned measurement of consumer preferences. It turns out that social media is a great channel for extracting customer data using PPC, reviews, surveys, and even Facebook likes.
Social selling, social customer service, and social listening are gathering momentum in the era of COVID-19. Social distancing, and hence reducing physical visits to brick and mortar stores, is now the norm. So, it has become imperative that companies master the mechanics of social customer service and the art of social listening.
Mastering Social Customer Service
Customer service has always been one of the critical facets of a business to build reputation and brand loyalty. That is true for legacy businesses with storefronts, and it is also true for digital businesses. And, the statistics are there to prove it:
It’s easy to get on the right side of customers by asking them about their experience with your business. Microsoft’s report on the state of customer service indicates that two-thirds of US consumers have a more favorable view of brands that proactively seek customer feedback.
But asking alone is not sufficient; you have to ask the right questions and act on customers’ responses.
It might be a daunting task to respond to all customer questions and negative comments, but businesses should view it as an opportunity to improve market share through customer retention. With sincere effort, a company can get to a place where most of the feedback is positive by providing the answers customers need for success with the products and services.
Keep in mind that customer service in a digital space can take different forms than what takes place in person. Treat every interaction with a customer online as a conversation as opposed to a one-way channel.
News of poor customer service travels fast. A report from American Express explains that a US consumer will tell 15 people about bad customer service but tell only 11 about good service.
So, poor customer service will quickly cast a shadow on a business’ reputation. On the other hand, good customer service is not only favorable for reputation, but substantially improves the company’s revenue as well.
The same American Express report says that US customers are ready to pay 17% more for products and services from companies with excellent customer service.
Even though a business has many ways to reach its customers, it must not ignore consumers’ rising social media adoption as a channel for communicating with a company. Advertising has its struggles because there’s not one simple way to respond to all conversations. Still, social media has been able to bridge that gap between advertisers and customers as consumers start to welcome brands into their dialogue.
Mastering Social Listening
The digital transformation of business and the use of social media has enabled companies to receive both direct and indirect feedback about their brand. When appropriate, businesses can chime in on customer discourse to correct misconceptions and introduce new offerings. On the other hand, social listening is just as much about customer service as it is about identifying and harnessing brand love. It’s a great way to discover positive themes about your brand. These themes can then be used to create ads that resonate better with customers and provide historical context for positive engagement opportunities.
The opportunity is huge and still growing, with more than 3.7 billion active users on social media platforms as of December 2019, gaining about a million new users each day. Businesses must embrace social listening to find out what drives customer conversations and to gather cues for strategic changes. Social listening enables a company to:
Provide prompt responses to customers’ comments. Shoppers like businesses that respond swiftly to their concerns.
Steer conversations in directions beneficial to the business.
Keep track of how the brand is doing.
Find new opportunities. Discover trends in customer feedback and insights into what brand loyalists discuss.
Improve customer loyalty and market share.
There are many ways to approach social listening and leverage the insights it provides. Here are a few:
Comments on Facebook are a source for finding how customers are using products, discerning their pain points, and tuning into overall themes dominating conversations about products and services.
Discover opportunities for rolling out payment options that will incentivize purchases. For example, if customers find a product attractive but are intimidated by its price, the business can promote an installment payment option to encourage customers to buy.
Use tools to monitor conversations to find out how your brand comes up in good and bad conversations. For example, set up alerts for trending conversation about your brand to stay ahead of any trends or a potential PR fire. These findings are essential for identifying the source of emerging conversation outside of your brand’s social pages.
Natural conversations between customers can provide insights that are difficult to obtain through formal methods like surveys. Discussions in niche groups are great for finding organic traction through friend-to-friend recommendations. A good example is a Facebook group on travel that discusses destinations, airlines, and hotels.
A business must convert the findings from social listening into concrete action. Some things it can do are:
Recognize the social media comments that influence customer perceptions of your brand and promptly respond to them.
Stay current with the latest news to ensure that your business strategies are in line with societal moods. For example, businesses must tune their messaging to address customers’ anxieties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pay attention to social justice issues like racial equality, while avoiding virtue signaling.
Value your past customers and use direct messages to stay engaged with them, as appropriate.
As brands continue to find new campaign initiatives, messaging techniques, and R&D approaches, social listening can offer valuable insights into how your brand is perceived on social media and what will resonate best on each social platform.
Here are some steps you can take to create a social interaction framework for your company:
Use third-party vendors to implement active social monitoring and ensure that insight from all social channels are properly integrated and interpreted.
Implement processes for efficient communication between internal teams. All departments must stay on the same page and work in tandem to send the same message on all channels, including social media.
Actively solicit customer feedback. Stay in touch with old customers through multiple communication channels to retain brand loyalty.
Agility is the key to staying abreast of developments in the fast-changing world of social media. Be ready to shift strategies or product features to meet the ever-evolving needs of your customers.
Many businesses would do well to partner with digital marketing experts to ascertain the right approach to social listening and social customer service. Adlucent is an expert on digital marketing, including leveraging social media channels. Contact us to begin or accelerate your marketing strategy today.