Make Social Media Part of Your Customer Experience Strategy

To paraphrase Howard Beale in the cult classic movie Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m going to tweet about it!” We’ve all been in there before: You had a great — or terrible — customer experience with a company and now you feel like you just have to share it on social media. If you’re not the tweeting or sharing type, you’re likely a social media lurker — the person who reads online customer reviews of a product, service or company before deciding to engage with a brand for the first time. And if you see too many bad reviews, tweets or posts, you likely won’t engage with that company at all.

Providing a great customer experience goes beyond the actual agent-customer interaction. In-person or voice interactions are hard to ignore, but they happen behind the scenes, visible only to the agent and the customer. They’re real-time conversations in which an agent assists a customer or prospect to answer a question, fix a problem or complete a transaction.

But interactions that occur through social media are a different story. Social media interactions are more upfront; everyone sees them — whether you like it or not. All too often though, companies ignore a chance to engage with their customers or prospects through social channels. Responding to those customer mentions is crucial to building brand loyalty.

Still, companies only respond to half of the online messages they receive. And that non-response results in a 43% drop in customer advocacy. Taking the time to respond online — whether it’s a good or poor review — pays dividends for a company, increasing customer advocacy in the brand by 20%.

According to a Microsoft report, 74% of millennials say that a company being responsive on social media improves their perception of that brand. And the faster you respond, the better. Sixty-six percent of those polled expect a response within 24 hours.

To be sure you’re putting your best foot forward in the social space, create some social media best practices that include rules and recommended approaches for dealing with any cheers — or jeers — that come your way.

Tracking the Tweets, Likes and Hashtags
The first step in creating a golden book of social media rules is to find out what people are saying about you. And that involves performing a social media audit — learn who’s saying what — and on which channels. Different social media channels will elicit different types of customer feedback. So, perform searches for your company being tagged on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even TikTok.

Look for trends and influencers. If you find an account that seems to engage your brand hashtag often, there’s likely some value in following that account. If you see several interactions that ask particular questions — sizing, assembly instructions, environmental efforts, for example — it could be valuable to set up a social media channel that’s specifically dedicated to answering those types of questions.

You also can use various tools, such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and Sprout, to constantly monitor social channels to keep tabs on all interactions. And look to hiring someone who’s well-versed in social media to become the designated point person for monitoring and responding to comments.

Going Social
Once you’ve got a handle on the ways in which customers are mentioning your brand on social channels, it’s time to respond. According to Social Media Today, 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that don’t answer complaints on social media. But crafting the right response can be tricky. You want to be responsive and friendly — without sounding like a bot.

Using the same response repeatedly for multiple customers isn’t going to get you any points for personalization or for making that customer feel important or valued. And for more sensitive questions, a direct message might be the way to go. Offer that customer an email address so they can contact you directly to resolve an issue or share personal information.

Not only does online retailer Zappos respond to customer comments on social media with sometimes humorous messages, it does so within an hour of posting. This online personalization has set the brand apart for its social media savviness.

Make Room for Social in the Customer Experience
Providing a great customer experience means not only treating customers like they matter (Spoiler alert: They do.), it’s also about making interactions with you easier. And 58% of people say that social media makes customer service easier for consumers.

Improving customer experience won’t happen overnight. It involves a few well-thought-out strategies — from migrating to a cloud contact center to improving employee engagement to making sure your customers and prospects can contact you on any channel, whenever they want. A social media strategy should be another key element in your list for achieving customer experience excellent.