Today, it is widely acknowledged that companies can no longer ignore or idly watch what consumers are saying about their brand on social media.
We’ve reached a stage where the focus is on real engagement, not just listening. But what must still take root is the idea that companies should reach out proactively as soon as customers show signs of dissatisfaction or need for assistance, rather than waiting for them to get in touch. This is where the real competitive advantage lies: being proactive in your approach to social customer service can help to save customer relationships against competitive pulls and to protect brand reputation against negativity escalating online.
At Conversocial, we recently investigated consumer behavior on Twitter, specifically the types of conversations surrounding brands outside the ‘@’ mention. The report, “Look Beyond the 3%: A Day In The Life Of Brands on Twitter,” highlighted the mentions of four large retail brands over a 24 hour period and found that 37% of all tweets were customer service related, with 3% expressing dissatisfaction. While Twitter conversations grow rapidly, 3% becomes a very significant number of publicly unhappy customers. Clearly there’s a lot more than chatter out there that social teams should be addressing face on.
This all begs the question, what does proactive customer service really mean? Yes this stuff is out there, but what am I expected to do about it? Many brands have an instinctive barrier against butting in on customer conversations, but as long as you follow some simple rules of engagement for outreach, you can bring real value to your customers.
The goal of proactive customer service is to understand your customer’s point of need, and to take steps to meet them there. Visibility of public conversations on Twitter presents an opportunity, for the first time, to address customers’ issues before they come to you. This level of customer care holds great potential for improving customer relationships. But it’s also fast becoming an essential step. More and more consumers migrate to Twitter to take part in the dialogue about brands online - last year Twitter’s CEO reported that there are more than 500 million tweets posted every day. Waiting for them to bring their complaints to you not only fails to understand the nuances of a platform that blurs public broadcast with personal conversation, but fails to address highly damaging, public negativity before it escalates.
Social customer service encompasses so much more than traditional perceptions of customer service and the call center. The benefits of engaging with customers socially and proactively are endless, allowing you to learn more about your business directly from your customers, providing insight into your position relative to competitors and untapping the minute detail needed to make product and service changes for the better. In reality, reading conversations about you online only scratches the surface of insight available. It’s direct, timely engagement to unearth customers’ problems and perceptions that provides the feedback craved by multiple departments of your business.