The Secret to Social Customer Care: Stay Agile & Committed

In the world of social, paying attention and responding to the needs of your customers is crucial, now more than ever. Brands can no longer ignore a negative experience and hope it goes away, but instead must respond in a timely manner before it gets worse. They also can’t ignore the positive ones in hopes their audience might see them on their own—instead, they must promote them to help humanize their brand.

I recently sat down with Ray Rahmati, Spredfast + Lithium’s Senior Market Director and Head of Agency Partnerships to get his insight on social customer care and how brands can create exceptional social experiences.

P.S.: If you missed our #SmartSocial Twitter Chat on the topic, check out our Twitter Moment recap!

What is the biggest mistake you think brands make when it comes to customer care?

No matter how great your company is, no matter how amazing your products and services are, if your customer service is less than spectacular, it won’t make much difference. It doesn’t matter if you have a social care team of one or one hundred—everyone needs to be thoroughly trained on customer service, your company’s social brand voice, any necessary industry regulations, and information on your products and services.

Having care agents on the front line who aren’t adequately trained is one of the quickest ways to lose a customer. Your customer wants resolution and consistency, each and every time they engage with your brand. In addition to that consistency, customers want accessibility. If you want repeat business, you need to be accessible, and you need to be present in the channels where your customers are most comfortable engaging. Customer expectations are changing and brands need to be agile to meet new needs. Remember, it costs less to keep a customer happy than to acquire a new one. Even more interesting is that it costs even less to save an unhappy customer than to acquire a new one.

It costs less to save an unhappy customer than to acquire a new one.

 

Which channels are the best for responding to customer care inquiries?

The best channel for responding to customer care inquiries is the one on which your customer initially engaged with you. Don’t believe me? Imagine you went to your favorite retailer with a return purchase. The clerk tells you that you have to go to customer service for the return. You get to customer service and they tell you have to fill out a form, mail back the purchase, and your refund will come 2-3 weeks. I don’t know about you, but this experience makes my blood boil. And I feel the same way when I engage with a brand through social or digital channels and they push me toward a contact form, or worse, their 800 number.

One thing to remember. When you commit to being somewhere—be it a social channel, chat, or in a customer community—you have to be there. You have to respond, engage with people, and do it in a timely fashion.

What metrics are the most important for brands trying to create better experiences for their customers?

The single most important metric has to be response time. Consumer expectations are changing, with the majority of people expecting a response on social in under an hour. During the holidays, when customers are scrambling to finalize holiday shopping and preparations for hosting family, time is of the essence.

Another metric that I think is important is response rate. We’ve conducted research where we found that the majority of brand mentions go without a response. Set benchmarks during peak times so you can measure increases in efficiency throughout the year.

At times of peak volume, like the during holidays, it’s important to also look at volume of mentions/comments/care issues by network and channel. By keeping a close eye on these metrics, brands can understand when the highest number of care issues are coming in, and when and where to allocate resources.

What role can Marketing teams play in providing better support during busy times?

It's common knowledge at the enterprise level that silos wreak havoc. When care and marketing are not on the same page, the experience for the customer suffers. But how do you bridge the divide between Marketing and Care? Through real-time digital and social channels. Creating alignment will pay dividends. Customers enjoy a better and more consistent experience, and brands gain more control of the customer journey.

With access to a wealth of data, marketing teams are often in a strong position to understand what customers need and want. Typically holding larger budgets, they can supplement support activities with moments of delight through “fan love” programs.

Coordination between marketing and care makes the brand’s overall response smarter. Giving visibility to the care team on the editorial calendar pays dividends: proper resource planning, FAQs written, and response language pre-approved.

Coordination between marketing and care makes the brand’s overall response smarter.

 

Your ultimate goal should be to provide a consistent and enjoyable brand experience every time a customer interacts with you. By creating tighter collaboration with marketing, care teams can ensure a consistent brand voice and 360-view of the customer.

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Gage Grammer is Spredfast + Lithium’s Global Social Sales Manager, leading an enablement program to empower sales teams to embrace social media into their day-to-day activities and building their personal brands. She’s Texas-born, raised in Nova Scotia, owns an adorable French Bulldog, and has her own interview series, Going. Ahead. With Gage!