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How would you Rate your Social Media Customer Service?

Customer Service and Social Media

Why is it that negative comments on social media always generate more interest than positive ones? You know what they say, misery loves company! It is imperative for businesses to have a plan in place to respond to complaints in the right way and via the right channel. Social media has become a customer service venue for your customers.

Customers are flocking to the platforms where they know they’ll be heard and, more importantly, where they know they’ll get a response. This is why Twitter has become a prime avenue for customer interaction with companies. According to research most customers consider three things: where the brand is active, where the customer thinks he will get the best response and how important response time is.

So let’s make a game plan for responding to irate customers.

 

 

1) Not responding is not an option

Edison Research and Jay Baer, author of “Hug Your Haters”, conducted a study about the responsiveness consumers expect from businesses. During their research, they discovered that customers get a response on social platforms about 50 percent of the time, which means companies are doing themselves — and their customers — a disservice. According to their findings, failing to respond on social media can trigger a 43% decrease in customer advocacy; a reply, however, can give you a 20% bump.

2) Find instances where your company is mentioned

Many companies believe that Twitter has become the primary sounding board, but in actuality 71% of all complaints on social media are actually posted on Facebook. Only 3% of tweets about customer service issues call out the company’s so to find all your mentions, employ a social media listening software, and always set up Google Alerts for your company.

3) Empathy is key

You can’t change what happened to upset your customer, but you can control over what happens next. Adopt the BEET strategy: Be Empathetic Every Time.

 

 

Follow this example by Wink Frozen Desserts:

 

A customer bashed Wink’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free frozen desserts on Facebook so CMO Jordan Pierson replied with a sincere apology and offered a refund. “While we hope that everyone will love and enjoy Wink as much as we do, we realize that not everyone will. If we can help, please send us an email to info@winkfrozendesserts.com. Thanks for giving Wink a try!” His response put a positive spin on the product with empathy that makes you feel great about the brand.

4) Only reply twice

The rule is to never reply to a customer more than twice in a public forum. Further conversation should take place behind the scenes. First, apologize and show empathy to the first complaint. Second, if the customer complains again, apologize again and offer to discuss the issue in private. Your goal isn’t to satisfy the unhappy customer; it’s to go on record so your whole audience can see you care.

If you answered the headline with a yes – give yourself a major pat on the back. You are out there setting the standard for others to follow (And please, get in touch so we can get you signed on for a guest blog spot). If you answered “no, our social customer care is most definitely not kicking ass” – don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve curated five thought-provoking blogs that will help you get on the path to best-in-class social customer care. Whether you’re working with an outsourced strategic partner or whether you are operating with an in-house customer service solution, these posts are must-read content as you work on improving your customer experience on social media.

 

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5) Watch your characters

Certain social media platforms only allow for a certain number of characters, which could cut off your response and lead to misinterpretation. Make sure you include links for the full response or provide a contact email for customers to voice further concerns.

Is good customer service really valuable? A study from Harvard Business Review asked that question and their findings were fascinating. A response, even with an angry customer, can boost the amount the customer is willing to pay for services. So get your customer service plan in place and start responding today!

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Data Rich, Insight Poor

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful

Most companies would say they are data-driven. Do you agree? You gather as much data as possible in order to make strategically based decisions regarding marketing, branding, budget, and new product ideas. Because more data equals more insights, right? Not necessarily. Don’t waste time on the wrong numbers. To prevent a data overload, you’ll have to hone in on the 1% of data that actually matters.

 

Remove the Noise

Your first instinct may be to take every data point you can find and cram it into one page. Have you ever googled sales metrics finding articles like “100 sales metrics everyone should track.” How can you focus on what’s important with all of the unnecessary information? Keep it simple! To quote the designer John Maeda, “simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”  Including data just because it exists will cause you to place emphasis on what may not benefit you.

 

How to Pick the Metrics that Matter

Look for the vital signs…just as in health care there are vitals that indicate the health of critical functions in the human body. One of your “vitals” might be monthly revenue. You should always track the pulse of your vitals in case they dip, but don’t expect them to give you actionable insights. Vitals alone will not give you a correct diagnosis.

Spend most of your time on the metrics that answer a business question, or are going to invoke a change in behavior (e.g. what types of deals should we focus on?). Reflect on which metrics drove productive conversations and which ones resulted in awkward silences, those can be scrapped.

Metrics come in Pairs.

It’s all about balance. You can measure the performance of a team with just two complementary metrics. For example, you could have one for quantity and one for quality. For a sales agent, it may be agent productivity versus customer satisfaction rating. To encourage the right behavior, pair the leads created number with win rate.

 

Get to Know your Clients Really Well

Jonah Disend is CEO and founder of Redscout, a branding and product development company with clients like Gatorade and Domino’s that he founded in his New York apartment in 2000. He describes traditional advertising as “yell about what we’re doing and hope someone is interested.”

His approach to brands—which he applied to Domino’s core product, its pizza, and to Gatorade when he helped launch the G series—is to ask “How do you behave differently, do different things, make different products or services?” “Then use marketing to amplify. Instead of trying to convince the consumers you’re different, actually be different. The marketing goes so much further.”

 

Insight is what really matters. And what is that exactly? Disend says, “If I tell you an insight you will feel it. Physiologically you will feel it. If it’s not an insight you won’t feel it.”

 

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Customer Service Gone Wrong

What You Need to Avoid

 

 

Why does negative news spread so much faster than positive?

Because we all love a good story! But when it happens to you, it’s not so funny.

People love reading about bad customer service stories. They go viral because we’ve all been there – on the phone desperately needing help from customer service, or waiting in an endless line at the airport.

When you read about a bad customer experience, you feel empathy (and maybe some outrage) on behalf of the wronged party. It’s maddening when companies disregard the same customers they’re meant to serve, and it’s a near-universal experience.

Check out these five horribly bad customer service examples and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Walmart’s Pricing Blunder

You walk into your local Walmart and see a Lego set you want to buy for your son. You notice that the item at the store costs 35% more than the same exact Lego set on Walmart’s own website. What? Yes really. That’s exactly what happened to Clark Howard. But when he asked the team to meet their company’s online price, Walmart refused to price-match.

So he pulled up his phone and ordered the product online for an in-store pick-up. Howard says, “My son and I stood there and watched as a different employee came a few minutes later, picked the item up off the shelf, and brought it back to the holding spot for pickup.” Because Howard didn’t receive the email confirmation from Walmart.com until the following day, he couldn’t bring the item home that day. Instead, Howard had to go back to the store the next day — inconvenient, to say the least. Although Walmart doesn’t require that store managers match online prices, it would have been the best (and only) response in this scenario.

Takeaway

When companies prioritize a policy above the needs of customers, it shows. If you’re not sure how to respond in a scenario, think about what’s the kindest, most honest thing to do. This can easily prevent really bad customer service stories from happening on your watch.

2. Comcast’s New Low

There are lots of reasons not to like cable providers. You always have to argue for a fair rate, and most of the time, you don’t get what you need. But even in this not-so-helpful industry, Comcast is America’s most hated company.

In 2015, when Lisa Brown called to cancel the cable TV portion of her service, she was transferred to a retention specialist specifically trained to talk her out of it. She didn’t back down, though. Much to her surprise and agitation, the next service bill she received was addressed not to her husband, Ricardo Brown, but to “Asshole Brown.”

Just days after Brown’s story went viral, three more customers of the TV cable provider came forward reporting their names had been changed to derogatory words. Although Comcast leaders apologized to the customers and offered a two year refund, the incident still made waves. Because customers hate Comcast’s pricing model, and so many people can relate to the frustration, the story resonated with millions.

Takeaway

This bad customer service example typifies a work culture where employees are so fed up, they’re willing to sacrifice their jobs to make a point, and get a laugh. The best way to cultivate an empathetic customer service team is to treat the team with empathy, too. This sense of shared appreciation and respect will naturally extend to customers.

 

 

3. Target’s Trolling Incident

Not too long ago Target announced that they were changing how girls and boys items were advertised in their stores. In an attempt to create a more supportive and open environment for children, Target removed gender-based signs in some of their kids’ sections. Although a lot of people appreciated the change, some customers saw it as a move away from tradition for the sake of “political correctness” and commented on Target’s Facebook page.

Soon after, a Facebook user pretended to be Target’s help desk and trolled these unhappy customers. The Facebook user changed their name to “Ask For Help” and used the Target bullseye as their profile picture. They wrote snarky replies which did not bode well with the already livid customers. The perception was that Target didn’t care about their views.

Takeaway

As customer service expands into social media, there’s an increased risk for fake accounts that enrage (rather than delight) customers. Vigilance is the key to preventing a bad customer service example at your business. Always keep an eye on social media accounts. Although it can be difficult to stop these scenarios from happening, the quicker you shut them down, the better.

4. United’s Big Goof Up

United Airlines’ first big goof up happened in 2008 when United employees recklessly damaged the guitar of musician David Carroll. Sitting in his airplane seat, Carroll saw employees throwing around his guitar on the tarmac, powerless to protect his property. Like any concerned customer, Carroll went through the proper channels to report both the behavior and subsequent damage. “I notified three employees, who showed complete indifference toward me,” says Carroll.

The customer service experience was so appalling, it inspired Carroll to write and record a song called “United Breaks Guitars.” This musical rendering of his bad customer experience has been on YouTube for eight years, and it’s received over 17 million views! Employee indifference to the company’s mistakes ballooned into a PR nightmare for United.

Takeaway

Don’t you remember the Golden Rule? Treat others how you want to be treated. Empathy is the key to building a successful customer service team. If employees don’t care about the mistakes their company makes — and how they affect individuals — they’re not going to be invested in positive change.

Practice empathy with customers by asking more questions and mirroring their answers. No matter how difficult the situation, they’ll feel heard.

5. Gasp’s Retail Gaffe

Have you ever been in a shop and gotten snubbed by the staff? When Keara O’Neil went to an Australian clothing store called Gasp looking for bridesmaids dresses, the salesperson was pushy and mean, implying O’Neil didn’t have good enough taste to appreciate the company’s dresses.

O’Neil followed up with management over email who ferociously defended the salesperson. The Age reported, “In an email, the retailer asked her to do Gasp a favor, stop wasting the store’s time and shop elsewhere because she was not a ‘fashion forward consumer’ who could appreciate a ‘retail superstar’ with ‘unparalleled ability’.” The salesperson also called O’Neil unrepeatable names in a leaked internal email and and warned other “rude and obnoxious clowns” to stay out.

Gasp thought that this incident was a good thing because of the press the company received, but research indicates otherwise: a horrible customer experience can trigger a negative spiral of bad customer service that perpetuates indefinitely.

Takeaway

The adage “all press is good press” doesn’t apply to customer service — going viral for terrible service isn’t worth the momentary traffic boost. When you try to justify your (or your company’s) behavior, you excuse toxic behavior and set a new baseline for bad customer service.

The Bottom Line: Always Put your Customers First

 

Unfortunately every person has a terrible customer service story to tell. Even when it’s not as dramatic or extreme, customers experience terrible service every day, and it slowly erodes a company’s reputation.

The best way to tackle bad customer service stories is to prevent them in the first place. When you create a supportive environment grounded in respect and customer appreciation, you’ll never find yourself among these negative examples.

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