Does your business provide customer service via social media — or are you stressed out about the fact that you don’t? For a while, social media was rumored to be the “next big thing” in customer service. Industry experts predicting the death of traditional phone-based customer service were full of advice about how to handle customer service via Twitter.
It seems they spoke too soon: A recent survey reports that the use of social-media based customer service is actually declining. While from 2011 to 2013 the number of consumers using social media for customer service doubled, from 2013 to 2015 that number shrank. In fact, in 2015 more than four out of 10 attempts to get customer service through social channels were abandoned — a higher abandonment rate than for any other customer service method.
What’s Behind The Decline in Social Customer Care?
Apparently, customers are realizing that social media, at least as it currently exists, isn’t really suited for customer service. Thirty-two percent of those who stopped using social media for customer service say its functionality is too limited; 30 percent say it doesn’t work for complex issues; and 33 percent say it simply takes too long.
If social media isn’t offering what customers expect from customer service, what exactly do they expect? Here’s what customers desire most, and how you can deliver:
Desire: Getting their issue resolved immediately. This is by far the number-one factor in good customer service. Deliver by: Having a quality phone systemthat speedily queues, transfers and routes customer calls. Make sure your customer service department is well staffed with adequate backup staffers, especially during busy times or seasons; a call center can help with this. Monitor reps’ response times and results. If a customer reaches out via social media, be sure to respond as quickly as you can and get them in touch with your support department.
Desire: Not having to repeat information or steps. Customers say information they provide on the first call or first step of the phone tree should be passed on to the customer service representatives they speak to later. Deliver by: Collecting customer data. A cloud-based customer service database enables reps to gather information about customers and document steps taken. That way, other reps can retrieve the information later and customers don’t have to repeat themselves.
Desire: Educated customer service reps. Customers want reps to be knowledgeable about solutions and show an understanding of what the customer wants. Deliver by: Training your reps not only about customer service issues and procedures, but about your business as a whole — including products, services and philosophy — so they can deliver the right solution with the right attitude.
The reality is for most small businesses social media isn’t the best channel for handling customer service. If you don’t want to deal with it, discourage customers from raising these issues on social media by providing detailed information about how they should contact you with customer service questions. Prominently post your phone number, customer service email and customer service chat tool on your website home page.
Of course, you’ll still need to monitor social media (which you should be doing anyway) just to spot any complaints that might arise. When you do find these issues, reach out to the customer immediately and ask for their contact details so you can resolve their issue offline, and in a timely manner.