Social media has become an increasingly important customer service channel in the past year or so and is only becoming more important. According to NM Incite, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand that provides a quick and effective response on social media, and we all know how important and effective word of mouth marketing is. Thus, social media can no longer be looked at as just a marketing channel but needs to be recognized as a customer experience channel. Prompt responses and follow up are now key ingredients to the success of your business online. But can businesses really provide excellent customer service in 140 characters or less?
To answer this question, let's take a look at a couple brands that effectively utilize their social media channels to provide excellent customer service and thus, stronger brand affinity and loyalty. There's a lot to learn from these examples.
With busy airports, tired travelers, and unexpected flight delays, JetBlue is in an industry where it seems people have a lot to complain about. Despite the commoditized airline industry, JetBlue stands apart as having one of the most revered customer service experiences on social media. They are quick to respond not only to complaints and negative feedback but also to praise and kudos. As most companies are learning to do, they respond to people who @mention them. However, JetBlue takes it a step further and also responds to people who are just talking about the brand who may not have tagged or @mentioned them specifically. This means that they have people actively monitoring their social media channels and tracking relevant keywords and hashtags, something that more businesses should consider doing to provide the best possible customer experience.
Nike is a global brand that does a lot of things well, and social media customer support does not fall short of this expectation. Being such a large company with such a large social following, Nike recognizes the importance in providing excellent customer service and thus has a separate social media customer support handle, @NikeSupport, that provides support 7 days a week, in 7 different languages. This makes it easy for customers to reach out to Nike with inquiries. Not only is Nike very active, usually responding to customers within minutes, Nike also infuses some personality into their responses by making it feel like you are talking to an actual person. Similar to JetBlue, Nike responds to every type of feedback they receive, positive, negative and even when the tweet is unclear (see example below). Nike recognizes that not all inquiries can be handled via social media and will take the conversation offline if they feel they can better serve their customers that way.
Social media is not just a way to reactively respond to customer feedback, it can also be used to actively seek and collect feedback. Starbucks shows us how to do both. They are quick at responding to their customers not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook. They know when to be more fun and friendly in their response, and when to hold back and be more professional and serious, showing that they are both personable and dynamic. In addition to responding to customers, Starbucks launched My Starbucks Idea (http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/) and accompanying social media platforms (@MyStarbucksIdea) as a way to listen to their customers and ask for their ideas. To date, customers have submitted over 210,000 unique ideas of which Starbucks can implement if they see fit. Not only is Starbucks able to have a platform filled with new business ideas, more importantly, they are able to engage with their customers and better understand their customers needs, all while building brand affinity and loyalty.
You don't have to be a large brand or launch a new platform to successfully provide social media customer service. It takes just a few things to get started: be active, be responsive, be helpful and be nice. There's also a lot to learn from brands that do it well. Taking the time to research what works can help inform your own social media customer service strategy.