Jan 18, 2016

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

Social media is becoming increasingly more popular as a means for people to contact and connect with businesses. In 2014, Accent Marketing conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers nationwide, showing 72 percent of consumers only want to interact with a business through comments on social media platforms, as opposed to the traditional telephone or email communication. Furthermore, a quarter of Millennials and more than half of Baby Boomers studied find customer comments, posted on a business social media platform, helpful.

So, are you using social media to improve your customer service efforts and increase customer retention? Here are some strategies to apply:

Be Where you Customers Are

Research which platforms your customers use. Then, ensure your business has a page on those platforms, so you can build a direct connection to your customers. It may be helpful to begin searching Facebook and Twitter, as Facebook’s and Twitter’s users currently consist of 58 and 19 percent, respectively, of the entire adult population (Pew Research Center). Accent Marketing found that 82 percent of social media users prefer Facebook as their source for a company’s information or services. 30 percent of these users prefer Twitter for interaction with businesses.

Before You Start

Before you do anything on the social platforms you choose, make sure your page or profile is properly branded. Provide your contact information, including phone number, email and physical or mailing address, as well as, photos and posts relevant to your brand and industry.  Don’t forget to include your company’s official logo, tagline, color scheme if appropriate, and anything else that help’s tell your brand’s story.

Find Your Voice

Designate a team member (or a few team members, depending on the size of your marketing department) as your social media contact. This member should properly reflect your brand’s tone of voice, be consistent with the customer’s tone of voice and know when and when not to use emoticons or industry-jargon.

It’s important to be consistent with your messaging and voice to properly represent your brand. However, it’s also important to maintain the proper tone for the social platform you’re dealing with. For example, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, your messaging might be more a bit more casual or succinct than on LinkedIn. Each platform serves a slightly different need, and it’s important to be aware of this and address your audience properly as pertains to each platform.

Be Engaged and Respond Promptly

If you receive comments, complaints or feedback on your social media pages, respond immediately. Even if you have to research a topic further, make a point to acknowledge the customer. Among The Social Habit respondents, a panel of over 3,000 American social media users who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 42 percent expect a response within 60 minutes. Unfortunately, this also applies to comments received during evening hours and on weekends. According to a Garner study, failure to respond to comments on a business’ social media platforms can lead up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers. Be sure to have a plan in place to address feedback promptly and properly.

To Respond or Not To

Because of the lack of restrictions on posting to social media, some comments have gaps in the information and/or aren’t legitimate. It’s important to know when to respond to a complaint and when to delete it. Though, never ignore it; this may only stir the pot. Always contact the person at hand, but it’s not always appropriate to handle the complaint on a public platform. For example, a simple, “We’d love to resolve this for you, though we need more information. Please send this to xxx@xxx.com and we’ll contact you ASAP,” shows other consumers, exposed to that post, that you care about your customers and their satisfaction.