(By Lisa Wirthman)
“Listening is the first stage of a social maturity model,” reported the Aberdeen Group. Whether customers are talking about specific service problems or having broader conversations about products and services, organizations that take the time to listen can learn from customer sentiments and identify areas to improve.“
While a majority of companies use social media for marketing and sales, it can be an even more effective tool for customer service. Social media gives customers an opportunity for a quick resolution of problems: Some 81 percent of Twitter users now expect a same-day response to questions and complaints, according to an Oracle survey.
Social customer service can also give companies the best of both worlds: the ability to reach a wide network of customers while providing more personalized responses at the same time.
While 86 percent of companies are comfortable marketing with social tools, only 41 percent use social tools for communicating with customers, according to the Aberdeen Group report, Social Media and Customer Service: From Listening to Engagement.
While marketing pushes information out, to truly understand customers, companies have to start by taking information in.
“Listening is the first stage of a social maturity model,” reported the Aberdeen Group. Whether customers are talking about specific service problems or having broader conversations about products and services, organizations that take the time to listen can learn from customer sentiments and identify areas to improve.
Use Multiple Channels
To truly listen to customers, companies need to be present in all the places customers are speaking. Nearly half of all social media users have used social care, or customer service via social media, according to the NM Incite State of Social Customer Service Report. A recent infographic on Salesforce Desk found nine in 10 customers expect a consistent response across all the contact channels that they used.
Social care helps companies use their resources more effectively. Nearly half of organizations that implemented social customer service programs say the request burden on traditional channels has become more manageable.
When companies are listening, they can also quickly respond to customer requests and complaints. As many companies have learned the hard way, unanswered complaints can go viral, causing real damage to a company’s brand.
But the opposite is also true. According to the NM Incite survey, 71 percent of consumers receiving a quick brand response on social media would likely recommend that brand to others, compared to 19 percent of customers who received no response.
Companies that successfully improve customer service not only listen to their customers, but track their responses as well. Yet, 83 percent of organizations don’t analyze the demographics or profiles of their customers that are active on social media, according to the Aberdeen report.
What customer service and communication metrics should companies measure? Tracking and monitoring customer expectations, actual social response times, and the number of service requests that originate in the social sphere are all important, the report stated.
Social media is where customers are choosing to give feedback, ask for help and make complaints. Companies that want to be included in those conversations will need to recognize that social media is not just a great place for telling customers a story, but for listening to theirs as well.