3 Tips for Mastering Social Customer Care

The number of conversations that are happening about your brand across social media channels is increasing daily, and more of these conversations are from your customers, who have questions and concerns. By 2020, Gartner estimates that 90 percent of brands will be using social media for customer service.

And while voice is still the preferred channel for consumers (regardless of age), social media is becoming an important customer care channel for two major reasons: It's the preferred channel for some customers, and it's used as a method of last resort after customers have been unsuccessful resolving their issues through other channels.

So whether a customer is reaching out through social as a method of last resort or simply because it is his preferred method of contact, the fact is that this channel represents an important opportunity for your company.

For customers who are reaching out via social in frustration, the ability of your company to quickly respond and resolve their issues is an opportunity to retain a potentially lost customer. And for everyone else, social is an opportunity to gain new customers and delight existing ones.

The challenge for most companies when it comes to social customer care is that consumer expectations are high.

Sixty percent of customers who use Twitter as a service channel expect a response within one hour, meaning your company is not only expected to find and categorize social complaints, but to do so quickly and efficiently. And when you're juggling multiple service channels, like voice, web and chat, this starts to seem like an impossible feat.

So how can your company get started engaging in social customer care? Here are three basic ideas:

1. Start by Listening

It's clear that implementing best practices for social customer care is a difficult task for many companies. There is a significant amount of social data that goes completely untapped, primarily because conversations that are happening on social about your company your brand are not always directed at your company.

Social listening is one of the most popular ways for companies to start getting involved in social. This involves establishing a team that actively listens to social media conversations related to your company and engaging when you find a question or complaint related to your products and services. While this might once have been enough, customer expectations continue to rise, and the real standouts in social customer care will need to go above and beyond just listening.

2. Be Proactive

To be successful in social customer care, companies need to go beyond just active listening and instead aim for proactive engagement. Proactive engagement is the most active form of social media participation and involves discovering and engaging with customers who are discussing your company but not specifically addressing their comments to you and customers who are discussing a relevant brand, product or service.

Proactive engagement, therefore, enables your company to engage with both existing and prospective customers. It also allows you to not only solve existing service issues but to also engage with customers looking to compare brands or products before making purchase decisions. Engaging in these conversations early and often can help your company seize the opportunity to win new customers.

3. Invest in the Right Tool

Processing all of these conversations and interactions is no easy feat. That's why social customer care tools are so useful, but it's important to invest in the right one.

There's a wide variety of social customer care tools for companies to choose, each offering different levels of capability, functionality, and cost. Depending on the technology, these tools can be grouped into two categories: search-based and analytics-based.

Search-based tools rely on user-generated rules, searches, and popular keywords to identify engagement opportunities and work well for small to midsized companies that don't expect heavy engagement.

With analytics-based, AI tools on the other hand, machine learning and natural language processing algorithms are used to literally teach a machine how to understand the language used to construct a response. These solutions can be more expensive than search-based tools, but for companies that expect heavy customer engagement, an analytics-based system is the best way to ensure comprehensive coverage. This results in less manual searching and more time engaging with customers.

Regardless of which type of tool is right for your business, it's important to do something and start somewhere. In today's digital world, organizations simply can't afford to ignore social channels. They present a tremendous opportunity for organizations to engage customers and prospects, build brand loyalty, and strengthen customer satisfaction.

Jay Wolcott is vice president of Interactions Digital Roots, an artificial intelligence-enabled social media engagement platform. Wolcott launched Digital Roots in 2009 with a clear vision to provide the most advanced social media engagement and insights platform and has since grown the platform to support some of the world's largest brands and most progressive social media operations.

Related Articles

After landing in hot water with developers after restricting third-party apps, Twitter is undoing the damage with the introduction of the Account Activity API.

Posted December 26, 2017

Earlier this week, the social network announced that starting on March 23, 2018, apps that integrate with Twitter to schedule and automate tweets will need to prevent bulk messaging or face "enforcement action." Yesterday, it announced "adaptive rate limits" so that companies using Twitter for customer service won't be penalized.

Posted February 23, 2018