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Three golden rules to remember when customer services get social

As ubiquitous connectivity becomes the norm, customers are expecting and demanding more from brands.  As time becomes more precious, we are increasingly turning to our smartphones and social channels to connect with both our personal network but also the companies with whom we do business.  We don’t have time to be kept on hold for hours with a customer services representative. We want answers now as to why the product we’ve just bought hasn’t arrived, isn’t working or isn’t the product we ordered in the first place.


What compounds this issue further is the era of social. As social media’s grip continues to tighten, brands’ customer service teams are continually having to think of new ways to engage with their audience in a timely and effective fashion. With a ready-made platform at their fingertips, the public can very easily and quickly voice their dismay or approval of a brand. Getting customer interaction right has therefore never been more important.


Why siloes don’t work


Customer services teams were traditionally seen as islands within the brand, left to deal with the customer as soon as the sale was made. But in the age where customers demand more, it’s imperative that their enquiries are answered as quickly as possible. However, when the brand is made up of lots of different fragmented departments, that process becomes increasingly longwinded. Sales, marketing and customer services departments must therefore be integrated across the business; and automated CRM systems are going a long way to facilitate this collaboration. But introducing social media takes that integration one step further. 


So what are the three golden rules to remember when embarking on a social customer services strategy?


1. Social media makes you open for business 24/7

Social media makes your brand constantly available to your audience. No longer do they have to wait for the customer services helpline to open at 9:00am. Instead, they can very quickly and easily post a tweet to your feed at whatever time of day their issue crops up. Whilst this makes your brand more accessible to your audience, it’s important that your customer services team are armed and ready to deal with each enquiry that’s posted.


2. Social media isn’t really anything new

Your customer services team is already highly trained to interact with your customers via numerous channels. From phones and email to face-to-face communication, they’re well practiced in this arena, and so using the team to oversee social media activity as well shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.


Studies show that brands that use social customer service can head off a disaster that would have resulted in hundreds if not thousands of calls to the call centre. It can be as easy as putting out a post in Twitter and/or Facebook to say you know there’s an issue and you are working to resolve it. What customers want to know is that you aren’t ignoring them, and instead, are doing everything in your power to find a solution as quickly as possible.

3. Social customers affect sales

Of course, a customer isn’t likely to buy from you if they are angry with you or your service. But what happens if their frustration can be seen by every one of your other customers in a very public arena?


There are always going to be a few negative comments about your brand. What matters is what you do with the comments. Best practice is to address the issue and take the interaction offline as soon as possible, away from the prying eyes of other customers. If you don’t address the comment, sales could suffer. Seeing the unanswered queries in full view, your customers could very quickly desert your brand and look for the product or service elsewhere.


Whilst it’s important to remember these three golden rules when embracing a social customer service strategy, there are tools available to help you. CRM systems have rapidly evolved in response to the growing social media trend. Because customer services departments are no longer siloed, CRM systems can collate data from each customer from right across the business to give each employee in a customer-facing role a full view of the individual they’re speaking to. So, in addition to basic demographic info, the CRM system provides information such as the customer’s birthday, previous buying behaviour, social media interactions and all the previous communication the customer services team has had with that person.


At a time when customers are expecting rapid responses to their enquiries, every second counts. By integrating flexible CRM systems into your customer services department, that work in ways your teams need them to work, you can ensure that you’re engaging with your customers in the most effective way, regardless of the channel they’re using.