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‘Speaking but not listening?’ – how to maximise the value of customer service on social media’

Tue, July 22, 2014

‘Speaking but not listening?’ “How to maximise the value of customer service on social media”

Businesses invest significant amounts of time in posting content on social media, regarded as the fastest communications medium ever adopted. However, a massive 95.6% of comments by existing and potential customers go left unanswered and 88% of those that are ignored will not return. So why does this happen and how could those companies that fail to interact be potentially missing out?

More than ever companies are expected to be open, honest, transparent and accessible. As social media has matured, more and more customers are talking about brands or starting a conversation with them – whether it’s via Twitter, FaceBook or Instagram. For many businesses this is virgin territory; they are used to handling interactions via email or phone, but this is a whole new area, with different rules and expectations on the side of the customer.

What’s incredible is the sheer number of conversations and mentions that are happening on social media. For instance there are more questions posed on Twitter than there are on Bing and Yahoo combined. So whilst a company wouldn’t dream of leaving a customer service line ringing, the same urgency does not seem to apply for a tweet. Similarly, like a phone call, social media interaction should resemble a ‘dialogue’ not a ‘monologue’, so not just talking or broadcasting but listening too. According to Gartner, by 2020, 90% of customer service will be done via social media, yet companies are still slow to recognise the decline of traditional channels such as ‘voice’ in favour of on-line exchanges.

So what are the actual measurable benefits of continuous monitoring, listening and engaging with customers on the various social media platforms? Well, here is a list of just some of the value that you can realise:

Turn customers into brand advocates – Potentially the most lucrative result of social media engagement is finding positive comments or testimonials from new or existing customers and sharing these with others. Whilst 14% of people trust advertising, 73% trust word of mouth, making customer recommendations a cheap but highly effective method of promoting your brand.

Cost-effective servicing of customers & repeat business – Responding to service or support requests on-line provides an alternative to more expensive channels such as the phone, plus customers don’t need to wait in a queue and can receive more immediate answers. Examples of good customer service can in turn then be used for PR.

Give your brand a voice & enhance your reputation – Whether you are a start-up or an established company, having a voice on social media could be vital especially if you have a product or service that will get people talking. By having eyes and ears on the ground, you can see what both customers and competitors are saying about you and make sure that you promote the positives, whilst dealing with any negatives that may arise.

Effective complaint handling & curb negative comments going viral
Many consumers are now wise to the power of social media and if they have had a bad experience then you can be sure that many will attempt to seek redress by posting a complaint that everyone can see. By proactive monitoring of keywords (only 3% of consumers will actually tag your company name) you can identify these early on and deal with any damaging comments or poor reviews. Left ignored, these type of comments can quickly snowball, but by responding quickly and sympathetically to customers you can turn these situations around to your advantage – an angry customer becomes a thankful one, that could subsequently even recommend you to others as a result.

Valuable market research & prospecting – Often overlooked, is the ‘big data’ reservoir that social media provides. These are ‘live’ connections or data that can provide you with vital and free market intelligence and analysis that can give you a competitive edge. Using search terms relevant to your business such as ‘looking for X product or service’ you can also find customers on-line and start a conversation.

If you don’t have the expertise or resources to monitor and manage conversations on social media, then just like call handling, email or web chat, a specialist outsourced agency can oversee social media and act on your behalf, giving your customers a 360 degree access to service and support. With now over one third of internet traffic coming from mobile devices there is even greater onus to rely on a third party provider who can provide ‘out-of-office’ 24/7 cover as well as offer multi-lingual talent that enables you to capitalise new markets overseas. If you’re not on social media then your competitors surely will be, now’s the time to join the party or you could be left out in the cold.

Dino Forte

Dino Forte is MD, entrepreneur and founder of outsourced contact centre, Ventrica ( that provides multi-channel customer services for leading brands such as UGG Australia, Hawes & Curtis, NJOY, JML and PurpleBricks. Prior to setting up Ventrica, Dino was a founding director of outsourced contact centre, Converso, which was sold to the Usha Martin Group in 2007.

For further information or advice on outsourced social media management, contact Ventrica’s social media expert, Rosie Bocking on [email protected]

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