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A guide to social media as a customer service tool

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social-media-ball-300x200Since the introduction of Facebook back in 2004, the social media trend has swept the globe.

Today, sites such as Facebook and Twitter have transformed the face of contemporary communication. While there is a heavy focus on connecting with friends, family and acquaintances, social media has also emerged as a lucrative customer service tool. Regardless of the industry, businesses can harness the power of social media to interact with customers in a way that has never before been possible before. If you run a business and want to maximise customer engagement, read on for our insider’s guide to using social media as part of your customer service strategy.

Facebook

For ecommerce sites – which do not enjoy the benefits of face-to-face interaction – Facebook is an invaluable customer service tool. In fact according to a recent report published by Accent Marketing, US consumers identified Facebook as their favourite form of receiving customer service. When asked why they preferred Facebook, the answers were convenience, personalisation and rapid response times. What’s more, the entire Facebook process is completely transparent which works in the favour of both parties. From a customer’s point of view, the public nature of Facebook communication offers the peace of mind that interaction will be fair and honest. From a business’s perspective, beginning the resolution process via Facebook presents a chance to publically display a commitment to customer service and take the upper hand when it comes to vicious complaints. While it’s easy enough to set up a business Facebook account, it is a little more complex to use it to successfully interact with customers.

How to use it?

To help maximise the customer service potential of a Facebook account, Accent advises businesses to build a dedicated support team, check the account regularly and ensure that all customer queries are resolved as quickly as possible. In addition to helping resolve issues and complaints, using Facebook to interact with customers is a highly effective way to humanise your brand and deliver a personalised experience.

At the end of the day, keeping current customers happy could save your business a huge amount of cash, as well as attract new clientele. Did you know that it’s around 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an old one? Or that a huge 81% of customers are likely to reward companies with return business in exchange for good customer service? Whichever way you look at it, it pays to keep your customers happy!

Twitter

Thanks to its inherently ‘real time’ nature, Twitter is a hugely effective way to enhance the customer service experience offered by any business. When a customer has an issue, they don’t want to spend valuable time listening to pre-recorded call centre messages, submitting contact forms or waiting on email replies. They want immediate action and Twitter delivers. In fact, a recent test by Veeqo revealed that Twitter is one of the key customer service communication platforms used by the UK’s top retailers. Yet despite inviting customers to use the platform, the Cooperative took over nine hours to respond to a customer question while John Lewis did not respond at all!

How to use it?

Twitter is a great way to communicate with customers. However if you are going to utilise it, your response times must be fast. The internet is accessible 24/7 which means that customers can post feedback or questions at any time. While it’s not necessary to man your Twitter account around the clock, it is advisable to check for regular updates and respond immediately. If not, you risk any negative feedback going viral, as seen in the latest British Airways accusations.

The major rule that every business Twitter account should follow is to stay positive at all times. You only get 140 characters to respond which means there is no space for anything but optimism! As well as soft soaping the customer in question, a positive response will emit an upbeat and positive impression to anyone else who may be following the conversation. And don’t forget the golden rule for responding to negative feedback – the customer is always right! Especially when it comes to public Twitter correspondence.

Whether you work in retail, finance, communications or transport, social media is an incredibly valuable customer service tool that can be utilised by any business. Following the above guide, you should be able to incorporate sites such as Facebook and Twitter into your customer communications strategy and offer your clientele an exceptional standard of service.

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