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Mel Thompson
Mel Thompson
In It's a Random World
15th November 2012
CustomerService.com

A customer’s voice and opinion has never been as loud as it is today. With the expansion of social media and the ability to allow users to interact with brands directly and publicly, normal every day people are growing ever more important and in control of which brands succeed or flop. Consumers have cottoned onto the fact that they are much more likely to get a greater, prompter service when voicing their opinions publicly. They have turned into savvy shoppers - they understand that they should receive a certain amount of service from brands, especially when parting with their hard earned cash.

After the relegation of the ‘Fan’ pages on Facebook and the beginning of the ‘Like’ for brand timeline pages users can to be submerged into their favourite brands, keeping up to date with news and offers. To follow suit in December 2011 Twitter launched their very own brand pages allowing users to follow, tweet and interact with their brands. These social network capabilities enable brands to spread their reach to wider audiences and feature in consumer’s lives 24/7.

Stats show that the average number of brands that users follow on Facebook and Twitter is between 2 and 5, with 30% of these users recommending a brand to a friend. Then out of these 2-5 people 97% of them will be influenced into whether to buy a product from you depending on your social network activity and communication. This is an incredibly high percentage of users that you can influence and convert. It illustrates how important it is to make sure your content on these social networks is relevant and it is vital that you interact with your consumers when they interact with you and need you most. Don’t ignore them because you have thousands of other followers, every ‘Like’ and comment is as important as the first one. You need to be there for your followers, if you’re not and your consumer has a bad experience with your brand they aren’t going to keep it to themselves. Publishing their bad experience across social media their comments are going to be seen by thousands, possibly millions of people worldwide.

These good and bad experiences with brands are plastered across social media every day and are on the increase. Becoming the new home for customer services, 36% of people surveyed by BYU on behalf of Conversocial believe social network sites are the future for customer services. Over half of users on social networks believe that the brands that they are interested in and follow should provide news and information as well as a good level of customer support through their social networks. The beauty of customer service through Facebook and Twitter is that it can be so quick, well, when it runs smoothly of course. On numerous occasions I have tried different methods to get in touch with companies and to this date Twitter has proven to be the most successful in producing answers to my questions. There is often a fair bit of @ and # tagging and I must admit working with only 140 characters it is rather hard to get my question across effectively. However, it beats the hours of time and cost I would have spent on the phone talking to a machine pressing 1 then 2 or drafting and sending a long explanation of my situation to a feedback form that I can’t guarantee will be read. Someone getting back to me on Twitter makes me feel that little bit more important than everyone else on Twitter for those few moments. It gives you a piece of mind that you have not been forgotten and that my query is being dealt with. Therefore having a knock on effect of how you perceive that brand.

Customer service across social networks is here to stay and only going to continue to grow, to help you stay connected here are some top tips on how to approach your customer service across your social networks:

  1. Use good feedback to its full potential. People who leave positive comments are sold into your brand and you do not want to lose them. If they publish comments on social networks there is a possibility that they also have a blog, asking them to write articles about their good experience is a great way to help your brand reach a wider audience. You can also ask them if you can use their comment elsewhere, on your website for example, consumers will be bought into a new brand if they see positive comments from existing customers.

  2. Reply to questions promptly. This not only to shows that you are listening and care but other people may have the same question but not want to ask. The answer could help encourage new followers to buy your product.

  3. Deal with negative feedback immediately and carefully. Some brands have dealt excellently with bad comments (e.g. 02 when the network went down). Leaving negative comments unanswered makes you look like you don’t care. Others may see it and think 'maybe they have thousands of unhappy customers like this'.

  4. Take it seriously. Resource against social media feedback just as you would against a call centre for example because in many ways it’s even more important. Tone of voice and what you say is just as important as everywhere else, with 500 million users on Facebook and 67 million using Twitter, people will see and read your comments.

*Image sourced by freedigitalphotos.net, image creator Renjith Krishnan.