The world has changed, and is continuing to change. What once was the core of a business (the good/service) is now secondary to the experiences that surround them. Gone are the days where a superior product was enough to create a successful business. In this article, I am going to talk you though how you can make your business stand out using a little something called ‘Social Customer Care’.
Customer Care is Marketing
You may recall in my previous post I talked about how the customer is king, but not always right. Well, this is a part of that. I’m a firm believer in that any business must have the customer top and front of mind at all times. By that, I mean asking yourself questions like this: Is (x) going to improve the customer experience? Is (y) going to help us answer questions quicker? Alternatively, is (z) going to have a negative effect on our customers?
According to Gartner research, 89% of businesses are expected to compete mainly on the basis of customer experience by 2016. This means that you have invest in caring for your customers as a priority. I believe the best way of doing this is through something I call ‘Social Verification’ which helps businesses leverage the power of their customer base, using a 3-prong strategy (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-social-verification-leverages-power-customers-grow-ben-roberts).
Many people still see marketing and customer service/care as two separate entities within an organisation. I do not, and many others agree with this assertion such as Dan Gingiss, who was recently on the Social Media Marketing Podcast (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-customer-service-how-to-care-for-customers-with-social-media-dan-gingiss/).
I believe that marketing is customer service and visa versa. Take ‘Content Marketing’ for example. The basic idea around it is that you create useful, insightful and helpful across various forms of media in order to help people. This is surely customer service? But hang on it is called content marketing? What is the difference?
Another example I want you use is one that highlights how companies that deal with a negative or less that satisfactory. Yes, this example is from the company I work for but I think it’s important to show that I don’t just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk:
What I want to highlight here is how these public comments and your reply is a part of marketing. If people can see it, then it is definitely related to marketing in some shape or form. The way in which you deal with a negative response shows so much more about your company than any 5* rating.
Customers are your business. They are your greatest asset and potentially your biggest liability. By having a focus on delivering a fantastic customer experience, you reduce the risk and reap the rewards.
Social Customer Care
Social Customer Care is a reasonably new phenomenon. As more and more people (both customers and businesses) spend longer online they naturally want to engage and interact though the channel they are immersed in, be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or any other digital medium. In plain English that means if a customer is on Facebook they want to talk to the brand through Facebook and not have to go to a different channel.
Can you answer your employees on social? Can you give them a timely and concise reply? According to Jay Bear from Convince and Convert: “42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time”. This is not a lot of time. But, it’s really achievable if you put in place a plan of action.
In this plan of action you should include things like who replies and when. Are you going to reply with you name at the end? Are you going to be straight laced or add humor? These questions and others like them will keep your brand ‘CONSISTENT’ across all communication mediums.
In 2015/16, consistency is really going to be key. You need to be consistent across the board, from how you talk to customers, the service level or the quality of product/marketing materials. Customers no longer just want it, they expect it. They expect to have the same level of service with every interaction with the brand. However, we are all human and mistakes do happen. The way in which companies deal with that makes all the difference.
How to reply to customers
I want you to respond wherever possible. It could simply be a ‘like’ a ‘comment’ or a ‘share’. If someone has gone out of his or her way to praise you, recommend you, ask you or to criticize you, they deserve a response.
Always demonstrate empathy. Things do go wrong; you now need to see things from the customers’ point of view. Empathise with the situation, apologise if appropriate and rectify the issue. By responding directly to customers & potential customers then interacting with them on a one-to-one level, you build a rapport. It’s important to remember that people do business with people, and it’s people that are the true face of your brand.
If you receive questions through social, I’ve found it is always good practice to respond in public as much as possible. If though you are limited by 140 characters it’s not always going to be easy to reply fully. If that is the case, do not be afraid to share links to information pages on your website. This link can be useful for others and it allows for a depth of response that frankly isn’t possible through most social channels.
For me probably the most important thing to remember when speaking or interacting with people online is do not be a robot. Be a human! Give a human response. Use emoticons if it’s with your communication guidelines. By keeping things human, you keep things real. People deal in real so give it to them.
Employees and Customer Care
Employees are the people on he phones, they are the ones manning the social networks and ultimately they are the guys in conversation with customers. Therefore, it is so important you get buy in from everyone in the company.
How can you do this you ask? Share positive comments with them. Show them both you and the customers appreciate them. Praise is a real driver of productivity, and you will find that your employees or even you will be motivated by positive comments regarding your work and the things you do.
Summarising the role of Customer Care in Marketing
This increasingly social world means customers have more power over your brands than ever before. By helping them, taking to them and engaging with them you are going some way to building a solid Social Verification Strategy. Customers can be your greatest marketing asset, spreading your message faster and further than you ever could on your own. This is what Social Verification is. It is about using the power of your customers to boost your marketing. Care creates fans, fans become advocates, and advocates build brands.