Customer care through social media is a more relevant topic than ever as people’s lives and technology continue to merge. Connectivity continues to grow, worldwide, and most people are web-connected to two or more devices at once.
It’s no wonder people reach out to businesses with ease using the devices conveniently at their fingertips. The capability of two-way, direct communications–conversations–is a founding purpose for many of the most-used social channels. Therefore, social media platforms are becoming increasingly important as a customer care and support mechanism for businesses of all sizes.
With 80% of consumers now using social media to engage with brands, making customer care via social a priority is a smart move. So much so, you have an opportunity to differentiate your company, increase customer loyalty, build positive engagement, and gain sales by optimizing your social media customer care strategy.
“Think conversation, not campaign” is a tagline I’m familiar with from Brooke Sellas, Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of B Squared Media. But, in a recent BizSugar Workshop, Brooke expands on her philosophy and explains a whole lot more.
And as you may guess, Brooke’s presentation and social strategies function around the concept of customer care. She offers real-world examples showing the advantages of learning to use the “voice of the customer” for business traction by listening.
One of the messages Brooke can’t stress enough is her belief in the reality that social media is skyrocketing, and she expects this to continue. However, where you place your social media efforts hinges on a few factors, depending on your business or industry. But more importantly, selecting your key social platforms depends on your customers and their preferences.
Greet People Where They Are
Consumers expect (and increasingly so) you (your business/brand) to be available to them for conversation on social channels. And therefore, states Brooke, social media response to customers isn’t necessarily a choice for many businesses anymore!
And on that premise, this post unwraps more of Brooke’s sage advice on getting your business socially set by turning social engagement into customer care.
One of the first distinctions she initially introduces is to go beyond social monitoring because many of us typically stop there. Instead, it’s social listening, Brook says, which gives you the choicest and spiciest ingredients to cook up your best social care recipes.
To clarify further, Brooke calls social monitoring a reactive approach, while social listening allows you to take a proactive approach towards delighting customers.
Therefore, proactive social listening lets you learn and adjust directly in line with the voice of the customer. Proactive responses that align directly with consumers ignite positive conversations and highlight your business.
Increasing positive interactions resulting from this kind of evaluation and strategy from these analyses results directly in conversions and sales leads. But in the video for BizSugar, Brooke Sellas breaks it down further to see exactly how this works for real businesses.
I love how Brooke uses Social Penetration Theory to illustrate how conversations, starting at a purely superficial level, move through a series of levels to build trust with exchanges that go deeper.
She likens getting to know someone (even a business) over time to the peeling away of layers on an onion. Conversations start at the surface level with social banter but move forward via the next stages she describes as fact, opinion, and core. Brooke explains how offering content that moves through these levels uncovers a more profound, emotional understanding and leads to trust.
I like how she describes a fact as “an objective truth” and an opinion as “a truth to you.” In social media, this is particularly significant. On a few levels!
But, let’s stick to what Eddie Garrison of Clover Media explains in this recent video about not listening to gurus or “facts” for you or a client’s social media management.
Eddie’s point is that successful social media management can’t rely on best practices, gurus, or others. Nope, it’s more specific to your audience first and then with the needs of your business or brand. It has to do with precisely what Brooke is talking about with monitoring and listening to pay close attention to what’s working or not and what people are saying or asking.
From there, intentionally tune your social to wrap around the needs of your particular business KPIs (key performance indicators) and audience needs.
When you customize your social media marketing for your audience, business, and each platform uniquely, you stand a much better chance of gaining traction. With traction, momentum is easier to achieve, making social selling a highly organic transition.
Still, taking conversations and interactions to reach “customer care” status means more.
Creating Customer Care on Social Channels
Brooke says that nurturing genuine customer care through social listening works best by encompassing cross-disciplinary business functions into sales goals. One action supports others in this system for a consistent and understood business purpose. It allows customer-facing divisions and social, for example, to strengthen each other’s positions and resolve some issues quickly.
The red, yellow, and green light system that Brooke shares simplify and clarify how to sort social interactions regarding customer feedback. Complaints, she emphasizes, require swift and responsive communication and take priority.
Greenlight Customer Care
People, she reveals, are nearly twice as likely to share complaints about a product or service than they are to share a good experience! Keep that in mind, along with these tips from Brooke:
- You may need or want to set and show (on profiles and elsewhere) office hours or available hours if you can’t respond 24/7 as consumers often expect.
- Adhere to the red, yellow, green, or other fall-safe systems to review and approve social messaging, particularly on sensitive or specialty communications. Checks and balances in place are smart social management, especially for bigger companies. Sometimes you can even check yourself. Walk away rather than throw an off-the-cuff reaction onto social. When you’re sure you’re sure, send!
- Refer to legal approvals as needed especially in highly regulated industries.
- Answer all questions about your services or products from everywhere. FAQs are a world of powerful content the way Brooke talks about the topic! Use this.
- Bots may not work. I like this one. Brooke qualifies it by saying, depending on the complexities of your product/service, bots, and their limitations may cause more trouble than good! Think about it.
- Reactive social monitoring is social 101 while proactive social listening hits the MBA level.
- Gather useful social intelligence, but make sure you use it as a catalyst for change!
FAQ The Happiness
Brooke’s suggestion to nurture robust FAQ content for user happiness (UX) to pave a smooth pathway for potential customers makes perfect sense. I’m not sure it ever hit me as such a powerful content tool before for some reason. Adding FAQ-centered social campaigns around a business or individual products may make sense for some brands.
Mining for FAQ content from social platforms is a viable source of business insight and data collection.
Brooke points out the significance of “the digital customer journey,” expanding on the basic AIDA (attention/interest/desire/action) formula:
- Consideration & Evaluation
But, from a social customer care perspective, I love this graphic from Brooke’s presentation:
As the graphic shows, customer experience leads in every area and powers the process and your content. Still, your social media content and shares aren’t as valuable if they don’t bring you new leads or, ultimately, sales.
And that’s where both Brooke and Eddie bring it back to the relationship between business goals or KPIs and serving your audience by solving their wants, needs, and desires.
By proactively listening and evolving based on the information you find and collect, your social channels actively perform customer care initiatives driven by the voice of the customer. Engaging and interacting directly and thoughtfully with customers allows you to change negative conversations to positive ones, realistically strengthening your brand image and growing your community.
Taking cues directly from customers allows you to extend service beyond expectations and proves the value you place on people. There’s an element of community with this approach giving your customers a sense of belonging in identifying with your brand. At the same time, your business is walking the talk in valuing its consumers with the extra kick of public social forums to help spread the word.
Need a Reason to Embrace Customer Care Through Social Media?
Invesp put together this infographic to highlight the state of social media customer support services showing the latest stats and trends. You may find a few surprises in the data.
Do you have a social customer care strategy or process in place for your business? If not, now is the time to consider the possibilities and benefits. But more importantly, are the benefits for your customers.
What’s your take? I’d love to know!