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Is social media replacing traditional customer service?

Social media has changed the way we interact with everything, including how we interact with businesses. How is customer service affected?

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Molly Thwaites blog 

Currently studying a Level 3 Business Admin course at Exeter College, Molly Thwaites is the most recent addition to the Accounts Apprentice team. Molly has recently moved down from Cumbria. In her spare time, she is a keen hockey player, marvel nerd and a huge fan of the outdoors.

 


 

There’s no doubt that social media now pervades every aspect of our lives. It’s changed the way we interact with everything, including how we interact with businesses.

Did you know that 32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes? Similarly, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.

Not intense enough for you? How’s this: 57% expect a similarly speedy response time at night and on the weekends.

Those are some pretty scary stats.

Now, I don’t want to terrify all budding Social Media Managers out there. Yes, the business landscape of social media is changing, but it’s changing for the better.

 

 Social media map

 

What is 'traditional' customer service and why has it been demoted?

 

It has always been the case that if a customer wants to vent, they would do so over the phone or by email. But with the rise of different social media platforms, people are taking their feedback online.

From Twitter and Facebook to Instagram, if your business has a social media presence, it is almost guaranteed that your customers will use this as a space to express themselves and their concerns.

63% of customers actually expect companies to offer customers service through social media platforms.

 

Is this something to be worried about?

 

Well no, not necessarily. But by moving away from traditional customer service, businesses are also moving away from the “if you need me, I’ll be here” support method.

Amongst the din of the social media buzz, brands and businesses are finding it increasingly hard to make themselves heard. Due to the constant refresh of content, comments can soon get buried within a very busy feed. To make things even harder, comments can be hidden through other formats e.g. a hashtag, untagged posts or even a simple misspelling.

Now whilst this seems daunting and you may begin to panic that you’ve neglected your customers or clients, you’ve got to think:

Firstly, you’re not alone in this feeling!

Secondly, the only guaranteed thing that a digital marketing whizz can rely on to cut through the competition is really, really good social media customer service.

 

 Social notifications cartoon

 

Why having a focus on social media can be beneficial?

 

With traditional methods slowly fading out, it has never been so important to focus on social media as a way of corresponding with customers.

The impact that your online presence has on your company is unparalleled. By answering an online complaint, customer advocacy can be increased by 25%, and brand loyalty by a crazy 65%. Is this really worth neglecting?

Replying to a comment is also a perfect way to get your name out there, something that can’t be done through a personal phone call or email. Whether it’s a tweet or facebook reply, the customer has the power to share this acknowledgement with their friends and followers.

 

Are traditional methods still worth the investment?

 

Even though the rise in social media has led to the rise in expected online services, it’s still worthwhile to maintain your traditional methods. There are 7.68 billion people on the planet, out of which 3.48 billion use social media. That leaves 4.20 billion people who don’t.

Now yes, your company may not be targeting that many people (congratulations if it is), but what I’m getting at is that there are still masses that can’t contact you online. So by continuing to answer the calls, the emails, the face-to-face questions, you’re making your business inclusive to everyone.

 

 Weighing up social vs traditional customer service

 

Balancing both?

 

Jumping back and forth between traditional customer service methods and those found on social media can be challenging, especially when both processes are exceedingly different. But, as a company, being able to balance both formats is essential.

Traditional customer service offers a more personal one-on-one interaction between yourself and the customer. Social media, however, is out there for everyone to see, unless done via private messenger. Therefore, it is important that the right practices are in place.

 

Respond, respond, respond!

 

As stated previously, for many customers and clients, social media is the first point of call for feedback. And with people expecting a response so quickly, it’s crucial that you acknowledge the customer as quickly as you can.

Now, it’s very doubtful that you have an actual human responder around 24/7. However, there are systems that can be put in place to help you maintain response rates even when the office is shut.

One of which is the very lovely Chatbot. With the personality of, well a robot, Chatbot is an artificial intelligence software that simulates human intelligence, with the ability to learn and apply information acquired to answer any queries sent their way. It’s there to give your customer the answers when you can’t, whether that be during weekends, holidays, or just generally busy periods.

 

Chatbot cartoon

 

Obviously, this method may not suit everyone, and if you have the time then it’s always valuable to answer as a real-life, actual human being who has feelings and empathy (again not everyone has these qualities…). This may be through your own company or using an external agencies.

89% of customers began doing business with a competitor following bad customer service.

So by personally replying, it can make the customer feel more supported and valued.

 

It’s time to think big!

 

It’s no longer just a one-on-one interaction. The way you conduct yourself has the potential to be seen around the world, and this is the key thing to think about when tackling social media.

 

Tips for handling social media customer service

 

  • Always direct the customer to a more private method of communicating, especially if the comment is negative.
  • It’s ok to use the publicity, sometimes being a bit cheeky has its advantages. Think about linking replies to new campaigns or promotions.
  • Don’t just reply to those that have tagged you, remember to look for your company’s name both as untagged or other variations that customers could come up with. e.g. @bigwavemedia, big wave, bigwavemedia etc etc. There are a number of social listening tools which can help you monitor what people are saying about your brand online.
  • Considering bringing in other resources to help, whether this be Chatbot or a social media management software such as Hootsuite or Buffer, which schedules posts for you.
  • Create a calendar of what you’ve got coming up in the month so that you can plan what content to publish on your sites.

 

Remember you’re speaking to people that want to carry on doing business with you, so speak to them with respect no matter how infuriating they can be. 


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