Do you enjoy talking to customer service reps on the phone?
If you said yes, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that you are in the minority. Really, really, in the minority.
These days, the first place I turn when I have questions, comments, or need help is social media. And if a brand is handling their social customer care the way they should, it is infinitely faster and less painful that finding an actual phone number on a brand's website, then enduring long hold queues when you'd rather be doing anything else, and then being passed between reps as you try to find someone who can actually help you.
As customers increasingly turn to social media for answers, brands can't afford to ignore social customer care any longer. And yet, you still see it happening. Brands have their comments turned off, or they don't reply to people's queries on their social accounts, leaving customers feeling neglected and unheard.
Brands Need To Step Up Their Social Customer Care
Being a Social Media Marketing Professional I hate to name names because I know what a difficult job it actually is, that resources are often hard to come by, and that it can be a largely thankless job - but I did want to provide you with some examples of brands I think could make a huge impact if they were willing to engage with their audiences instead of using social media purely as a broadcast tool, and some who are doing it right.
Nike is a brand I really admire, for a lot of reasons I won't get into here, but I'm always sad when I visit their Facebook page to find that they have posts and private messages turned off. I'd love to send them some fun UGC of my super-colorful Nike sneakers or a comment about how much I love the layout and design of their New York flagship store. But I can't, they don't want to hear it.
With 23,631,700 fans on Facebook alone (at last count) I understand that it would take huge resources to wade through so many customer comments, complaints, and commendations but they're missing out on a huge opportunity to:
- Make their fans feel heard and part of the Nike brand, and thus build loyalty
- Find out quickly if there are problems with any of their new products
- Identify trends and ideas for potential new products to solve customer needs
I'm sure Nike has an extensive customer support team, and there are ways to integrate them into your social media presence so customers can get the help they need, wherever they prefer to receive it, and then you can leave the Social Media Team to do what they do best. In fact, there are a lot of tools out there that will categorize and allocate customer posts to the appropriate person to be answered, making the workflow relatively simple.
Who's Doing it Well?
Starbucks have 36,087,934 Facebook fans at last count, and yet they keep their communication lines open. You can post a picture, comment on their posts, or send them a direct message. In fact, they even have a whole section of their website dedicated to hearing your ideas. So if you have a new drink suggestion, idea for in-store, or a way they can be more socially responsible - they actually want to hear it! Well done Starbucks, well done! And what's even better....they respond to their fans. With emojis and clever comments. They use the images and videos fans submit, and they really celebrate their customers! Good job Starbies!
The weight-loss giant goes out of their way to give their members a personal touch. Recently they changed their whole points system to 'SmartPoints' which meant that there were some teething problems during the busy New Year's Resolution time period. Specifically, their app went down, for over a week, meaning that loyal members couldn't access their information or easily participate in the program. But, they handled it like pros. They trained additional staff to handle the thousands of extra social media questions and complaints and gave them license to act like actual human beings. They were compassionate, helpful, friendly, and fun and they responded to everyone!
I'm a long-time FitBit lover, and I recently damaged the rubber clip that holds my FitBit One. I tweeted them a photo and a little information and within two days there was a brand new one in the mail. Talk about speedy and delightful social customer care. No fuss, no hassle to me, the customer. That's the way it should be done! And see, I'm here now, telling you all about what a great company they are! ;)
OtterBox + LifeProof
Full disclosure, I run social media strategy for the OtterBox and LifeProof brands, so yes, I'm quite biased. But I did want to share a little about our philosophy and why we strive to answer every customer's question, and give love to our loyal fans on social media.
Everyone on our team understands that you don't always want to hunt down the number for customer support, and then talk to a human on the phone. Anyone my age (and younger) wants help where they are at the time...which is usually social media. Whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Tumblr, Pinterest, or even Google+ we want to help our fans in a location and way that feels natural to them.
And beyond just answering customer care and product questions, we genuinely want to hear what our fans have to say. Whether they don't like a feature on a product, or they have a great idea for something new, we listen, and we take that information back to our product and engineering teams who give real consideration to how we can improve our customers' experiences.
If you'd like to hear more about how we run Social Customer Care at OtterBox and LifeProof, check out my episode of the Focus on Customer Care Podcast on Social Media Today: http://bit.ly/FOCSotterbox
As I said earlier, providing social customer care can be a thankless job. Fewer people take the time to give words of appreciation, than those who like to complain. So if you'd like to let my team know they are doing an awesome job, click on one of the tweetables below!