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Improve online sales by delivering better social customer service

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Written by Kevin Plankey
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Not many people these days do business with a company blindly. Whether you're purchasing round trip tickets to Australia or buying a new pair of shoes, chances are you've read a review before seeking their service. In fact, nearly 90 percent of consumers are influenced by internet reviews, either positive or negative. 

 

One of the biggest influences on those reviews is how good - or bad - a business' service is. Customers are slightly more likely to report negative incidents than they are positive ones. This places an even bigger emphasis on customer service than ever before - including interactions on social media sites, which have become an incredibly common medium for communications.

 

Perfect your Twitter, Facebook strategies

The possibilities of social media feel endless right now, and in many ways they are. New social networking sites are popping up on a seemingly everyday basis, bringing unique marketing and service capabilities with them.

 

Facebook and Twitter are probably the most popular social networking sites at the moment, and along with LinkedIn and YouTube, they're the most commonly used to deliver customer service.

 

However, a lot of businesses are still struggling to provide positive interactions through these channels. More specifically:

 

- Facebook: 44 percent of consumers say they've read positive reviews about customer service on Facebook, compared to 38 percent who saw negative responses.

 

- Twitter: This site has a nearly dead-even split, with the positive-to-negative review rate checking in at just 23 percent to 22 percent, respectively.

 

The most striking aspect, at least to me, is how basic many of the top-cited problems are. I'm not talking about simple miscommunication either, such as how things sometimes get lost in translation during online exchanges. The four biggest issues, in order, are:

 

1 Having to explain an issue more than once

2 Dealing with an unpleasant customer service representative

3 Fixing the problem took awhile

4 The issue never got resolved

 

Fixing the problems: Focus on the obvious

Having to explain an issue more than once is something that will get easier as your company gains more experience with social media. In the meantime, you should make sure customers never have to deal with more than two people at most. One is better! If they have a problem that social media specialists can't fix, they should message the customer personally with direct contact information for a person who can resolve the matter.

 

But Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are all extremely easy fixes - all they require is for you to treat social networking service with the same mentality as you do traditional mediums. Let's break them down one-by-one:

 

Dealing with an unpleasant customer service representative - Being unpleasant with someone over social media should never, ever happen. If anything, the fact that these interactions aren't immediate means social media representatives have the time to think on it, even when answering an extremely rude customer.

 

Fixing the problem took awhile - You would never keep a customer who calls the store or who's physically on-site waiting for hours to get help, let alone days or weeks. By the same token, you shouldn't keep someone seeking service on Facebook or Twitter waiting for too long either. Not only will they be hesitant to use these channels the next time around, but they may also discourage other people from doing so.

 

The issue never got resolved - Not resolving an issue is simply unacceptable, too. We really need to get past the notion that social media is different than more traditional forms of communication, or that you can ignore comments you don't feel like dealing with. If you offer customer service on Facebook and Twitter, you need to ensure that every question, inquiry or complaint receives a response, particularly since these forums are open for the general public to see.

 

Like it or not, social media has become a medium for customer service just like any other traditional channel. It's time to start treating it that way.