Imagine going to your favorite local donut shop on a Saturday morning at 8 a.m. and the sign says it should be open, but the lights are off. What do you do? You receive a brand new glow-in-the-dark Frisbee in the mail, but the first time you take it outside at night, it doesn’t light up. Are you stuck with a defective Frisbee? Or imagine that you are the manager of a parking garage, and you rely upon the gates to operate correctly, but all of a sudden they malfunction. What do you do? How do you contact the manufacturer or supplier in the most effective way to resolve the solution?
These days, the majority of Americans’ first instinct is to jump on their preferred social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to showcase their disappointment and frustration with the product, service, or company itself. Consumers want to be heard when things don’t go their way, they appreciate sympathy, and want others to avoid the issues that they have experienced. As social media becomes a standard means of communication in our society, consumers are holding a higher expectation on companies to respond to their questions or concerns on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Thankfully, most businesses are progressively catching on to this trend. They now acknowledge that since their customers and business partners are active on social media, they need to join the party. Since consumers are now directly connected with businesses on social media, it grants them access to ask questions, complain, or praise the businesses for the whole world to see, in real time.
Companies who are able to effectively communicate with their customers and business partners via social media, in a timely manner, are able to earn trust and a higher reputation. Being able to receive a quick response from a business through social media is much more efficient and less stressful than having to navigate through an extensive customer service phone system that resembles a bowl of spaghetti. Even email can feel like a slow process these days. Our emails may go unread, be ignored, or seen by the wrong set of eyes.
One company that has exploded onto the social media scene with great success is the Dollar Shave Club. Their customer service on social media is fast, helpful, and humorous. In fact, they have a separate Twitter account used solely for customer service (@Ask_DSC). Here are some examples of their responses on Facebook and Twitter:
Let’s take a look at some common examples of questions or comments that consumers use on social when trying to contact a business, as well as examples of ideal responses for companies to use.
1. Pre-purchase questions about the product or service (cost, size of product, shipping, location, etc.)
2. Complaint (product issues, bad service, late shipping, account issues, logistic problems, etc.)
3. Company praise (positive review, company appreciation, brand promotion, etc.)
4. Post-purchase questions (product maintenance, product functionality, contract renewal, etc.)
5. General comments (impartial, no stance taken, e.g. “I saw your advertisement on TV last night”)
Suitable answers to the questions or comments listed above:
A1. Direct answers to pricing, size, shipping, and location questions, or a link to a company webpage that will answer the question.
A2. If the complaint cannot be resolved easily, give the customer an email address or phone number to call to take care of the issue, or request a private message on that social platform. Arguing back and forth on their social media page is quite unpleasant for both sides.
A3. Typical response to praise is acknowledgment of the praise, a brief “thank you”, and possibly a friendly sales pitch to upsell, a request for continued business, or a request for a referral.
A4. Refer the customer to a company webpage (such as an FAQ) if the answer is given there. If not, either attempt to answer the question on the message thread, or provide the customer with an email address or phone number to call for assistance.
A5. Responses are typically not needed for generic comments. If anything, a short, clever, or genuinely friendly response is acceptable.
In conclusion, yes, social media is in fact becoming a more acceptable medium of customer service. Businesses who take advantage of social media’s ease of use and immediate response time gain an advantage over their competitors due to its ability to connect with their customers more efficiently and effectively, on what feels like a more intimate level.
Your friends are hanging out on the newly constructed jungle gym. Do you play alone on the old jungle gym that used to be cool, or do you accept the fact that the new one is better, and go join them? Your customers are on social media—go join them.