Conversation builds trust. Replying to comments, queries and especially criticism helps to build honest, open and long-lasting relationships between a brand and its target market. In turn the brand also learns more about its customer base and therefore can improve their experience.
Dialogue is essential for effective customer service because your company’s audience is made up of people, and people like to be listened to.
In November last year Time magazine reported that half of the people who regularly use social media have utilized it for customer service and that 71% of those who have a positive experience in doing so, are likely to recommend the brand or company to their friends, family and followers. That’s a huge percentage which clearly demonstrates the potential reward businesses can accrue by implementing a solid social care campaign.
Dialogue isn’t limited to simple conversation –
Exceptional customer service will always go beyond the call of duty. This is exactly what Zappos did in December last year when Jameson Brown couldn’t find a specific style of Converse trainers on their site. The online retailer obviously understands how valuable credible connections with its customers are and rather than see every interaction as a sale, they regard it as an opportunity to reflect well on the Zappos brand. So when the customer service team couldn’t provide the trainers from their own stock they went hunting elsewhere and helped him find a pair from an unrelated retailer.
Jameson Brown couldn’t believe how helpful Zappos were, and fortunately for the brand he’s a respected social media expert who soon published a blog post singing their praises. And this is the whole point of having a dialogue with your audience, because whether it’s a positive or negative experience, customers almost always voice their opinions, which, on the World Wide Web, can reach millions of people.
Brands need to understand that both social media and customer service is not about sales, it’s about connecting with the community around your company. If you listen to them, they will listen to you, and that’s when you can more effectively promote your products or services.
Regular Updates and Interactions –
Pottery Barn’s Facebook page is an exemplary example of how customer service should be done on the world’s most popular social network. Boasting over 1million fans, Pottery Barn’s customer service team know how to use social media. They post on a daily basis, using a range of rich media – video and image as well as simple text, they reply to comments and queries promptly and as a result thousands of the fans interact with the brand on a daily basis. Measuring the conversion rate of these interactions is another matter, but rest assured they improve a brand’s reputation no end.
Back in the summer of 2010 a Pottery Barn customer called Jennifer Hellum posted a picture of her smashed coffee table on Pottery Barn’s Facebook page. The glass had shattered due to the exceptional Arizona heat and she couldn’t find a replacement from a Pottery Barn outlet in her local vicinity. In half an hour one of their customer service team was helping her not only find a new table, but also paying for it too.
If you’re updating your social media profiles frequently then you’re more likely to see these sorts of occurrences quick enough to help out the customer concerned. More often than not happy customers take to the internet to mention great service from a company so it’s always worth going that extra mile.
Non-Brand Related Conversation –
A key tactic is that Pottery Barn’s updates aren’t limited to company-only news. The 23rd of January is national pie day in America, to mark the occasion they posted a picture of a delicious raspberry pie and asked, “Whether you bake or buy, what’s your favourite kind?” By the next day 1,466 people had ‘Liked’ the post and 149 people had commented on it.
To engage with your customers naturally sometimes you’ll have to talk about non-brand related topics. Your audience doesn’t want to be sold to continually, building a community around your brand means you’ll have to have more to say than simply business and promotional subject matter.