When social media first made its way onto the scene, it was used primarily as a way for people to connect socially with one another. Don’t have time to connect with friends in person? No problem. Keep in touch through Facebook. Don’t want to hear an earful from your opinionated Aunt Betsy every time you call to update her on your life? That’s OK. Have her follow you on Instagram. But as social media picked up steam, businesses began to incorporate it into their strategies. The goal was to capitalize on these new channels through which companies could better connect with their customers.
Although this approach sounds ideal in theory, real customer service is best handled through real human interactions. Social media can be a perfect avenue for announcing customer contests, soliciting feedback and engaging with your brand in fun and playful ways. But if customers have a problem with your product or service, they don’t want to be tweeted a reply. Here’s a look at the two main reasons that person-to-person interactions equate to optimal customer service and life-long fans of your brand.
Prompt is No Substitute for Immediate
Even the most prompt responses to customer service complaints through email or social media fail to be as swift as another human being. Forrester Research states that 41 percent of consumers expect an email response within six hours, but only 36 percent of retailers answer them that quickly. What does that reveal? That consumers are consistently disappointed by unmet expectations with customer service online. Rather than looking to social channels to solve customers’ dilemmas, consider entrusting a multi-purpose call center for speedy and effective responses. Cloud-based customer service software enables efficient person-to-person communication.
Lost in Translation
You might think that the written word holds the most promise for clear communication, but in reality, a lot can be muddled when conversing via email or social media. Internet Retailer found that 94 percent of online retailers provide online customer service, but that at least 27 percent of these inquiries are answered incorrectly. Accuracy matters to customers, especially when they’re already in an unhappy state. When you rely on conveying an answer in 140 characters on Twitter, or through a convoluted comment thread on Facebook, you risk losing an opportunity to provide the right remedy for your customers.
Instead, provide a readily available phone number where customers can contact you, or offer a location where they can be helped in person. You’ll pave the way for problems — and solutions — to be transmitted clearly. Customers won’t suffer from increased frustration caused by being misunderstood, and your business will get the chance to get to the core of the issue.
If you’re already actively using social media or other online channels to respond to customer dissatisfaction, don’t fret. You can read about some basic ways how to tailor customer service to social media here. Also, work to shift the routing of customers’ issues to real, live individuals who can reassure them and take action immediately. Your social media presence can remain intact, just transition it from a place to share problems and solutions. Instead treat it as an engaging, fun platform. The real mission of any savvy business is to make customers happy, and the good news is this is easily achieved by offering genuine, human-to-human interaction. If your customers love how you treat them when they have an issue, they’ll love you even more in the good times and they’ll be more likely to remain loyal. Be truly social, and let people talk to people.