How to make your social media more responsive
I’m sitting in the “gas station” Starbucks in Lakeland this morning working, and listening to four other people, who are very loud and discussing tech related topics and brands as follows:
- Kindle Fire
- American Express
- iCloud service
Ten major retail/consumer brands mentioned at one table in a little less than ten minutes. Also, a ringing endorsement of the Kindle Fire as a low-cost and useful substitute for an iPad, especially if you already have an iPhone.
Why does this interest me? Since I have started working in social media, listening to the conversation of business and brand wherever it takes place is the most important thing I do every day. We pay a lot of attention to listening to the organic social media conversation around our brand at work. We are still figuring out how to tackle the full-blown conversation that takes place outside of our Facebook wall. This means that much of that conversation remains in the wild, not managed or responded to. This bothers me every day, but we aren’t ready to go wider just yet for several reasons, including staffing and other limitations in available resources.
I’m pretty happy with what we are doing already, since it is better than what most major brands do. Some new research was just released last week which takes a look at this:
Software provider Conversocial this week unveiled the results of a white paper exploring the ways in which the nation’s largest retail brands address the needs of their customers on Facebook and Twitter, in an announcement at the Social Media for Customer Service Summit held in New York City. The analysis measured how seriously US retailers are addressing the customer demand for reliable customer service on social media and how the use of this customer service channel compares to telephone and email.
You can take a look at the full story here
, but here is a summary of the major findings:
Specific findings of the research include:
- Missing Customer Complaints and Questions: Missing genuine complaints and questions in posts and comments was quite high and represents a real pitfall for retailers in the sample. Walmart, the largest retailer in the sample, missed 40% of all customer service inquiries, while Costco, Kmart and Kroger missed 100%. Conversely, Safeway did well, missing only 5% of posts.
- Response Times: Those retailers with a larger volume of complaints; Sears, Walmart and Safeway; were fastest in the list. While it may appear on first glance that those retailers with the heaviest burden of customer service issues are performing best, with quicker average response times, this conclusion fails to play out across the board.
- America is Slower Than the UK: As a group, US retailers are generally slow at responding to their customers, with none of the ten averaging at under an hour, compared with 2 retailers in our UK sample achieving a quick average time.
- Current “Solutions” Not Working: The paper explains why redirecting to email is bad social customer service and why customer service apps, like the one provided by Walmart, are not working.
- Surprising Winner: Safeway was the best retailer in our sample in terms of dealing with the full complaint on the wall. Whilst they still redirect some complaints to a Facebook dedicated email and a Freephone number, a significant number of conversations about customer satisfaction are handled on social media outlets.
- Incident Resolution: High volumes of issues are self-reinforcing, meaning companies can find themselves sucked into a vicious cycle and a complaints plagued wall, the longer they leave them ignored. This need for quick incident resolution could be a real downfall. Although some fast average response times may suggest that customer service is being tackled – like a singular message requesting the customer to email a standard customer support address – the issue itself hasn’t been dealt with at all. In this way, real customer service isn’t happening yet in social channels (apart from some progress from our leader, Safeway)
.This isn’t that hard to solve. Treat your social media platforms like the communication channels that they are. Be there – both listening and responding. Don’t just sell there. Fix the issues thrown at you when you can, or move them in to your other customer service channels, but let your customers see and hear you responding. Build positive impressions, increase problem response times and case closure and your community will love you.
There is your social media ROI. Full disclosure: the sex in the title was gratuitous, and solely included for SEO purposes)