Over the past few years, the rise of social media platforms has provided consumers with more power than ever and many now take to the mass audiences of Facebook and Twitter to share their opinions on a company’s product or customer service performance. Indeed, the Institute of Customer Service report that there are 38 million active social media profiles in the UK and 1 in 5 social media users have admitted to using a social media channel to communicate with or comment on an organisation.
The increase in online communication has helped to fuel a rise in expectations for service excellence, with consumers increasingly expecting their field service provider to listen to and engage with them immediately over social media or risk damaging their brand reputation.
In order to meet customer expectations, the need for businesses to include social media as part of their customer service strategies is therefore becoming increasingly essential. Organisations are justified in approaching their social media strategy with some caution, however. Numerous high-profile cases have shown that the public nature of social media can bring risks to corporate reputation, if not managed appropriately and consistently as part of a coherent communications strategy.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts when formulating an online customer service strategy:
Manage customer interaction across multiple social media sites - organisations must ensure that they can manage and measure customer interactions seamlessly across a multitude of channels, as customers now expect to be able to communicate with field service organisations through a variety of social media sites of their choosing.
Leverage customer feedback - 42 per cent of field service organisations declare that they capture the feedback generated by their customers on social media. This can then be leveraged internally to improve relationships with them through enhancing product quality and developing new offerings to meet their needs and expectations.
Hire field technicians based on their people skills, as well as their technical ability - Trimble’s survey found that 35% of field service organisations believe social media use amongst consumers has influenced the need to train, or hire, field technicians with the desirable attributes to deliver a service which meets customers’ expectations. Customers want to be more engaged in the customer experience and a ‘personalised service for many’ is now required. To prevent a social media customer backlash, employ technicians that are able and willing to build a rapport with your customers.
Forget about the importance of ‘conversation’: Whilst some organisations are doing a good job at leveraging social media; others are underestimating it and applying the ‘old school’ approach of ‘marketing at’ customers instead of engaging in conversations that will enhance relationships with them. In order to influence how you are seen by customers, you must participate in conversations.
Overlook the importance of your social media ‘team’ – Entrusting your employees with managing your customer service strategy across the social sphere is a big responsibility so ensure that you only allow those with the business acumen and desirable attributes to do the job. In particular, those that are empathetic and emotionally intelligent alongside being methodical and patient to deal with the wide variety of customer service relationships and interactions are essential.