500 Social Media Tips & Social Media Customers service

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Social Media Customers service

Why Your Business Needs
A Social Media Customer Service Strategy ?
And the Benefits! By 2020, 90% of companies will be using social media
for customer service – Gartner Research, 2014.

[i] The rise of social media has changed the landscape of customer service forever.
My FB Page:

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It might share the same core principles as traditional customer service,
but for consumers it offers a means of communication with brands that is more immediate, convenient and public than ever before.

In the days before the Internet and call centers, face-to-face customer
service – personal, contextual, and pro-active - was common.

However, the drive to cut costs and “improve” customer satisfaction actually lead
to a situation where people were frequently frustrated by slow, fragmented
and robotic service.

Now, things have come full circle. Got beef with a company or want to tell them something nice?
Grab your smartphone from your pocket and your grievance is out there in seconds – for the company in question and everyone else – to see.

According to a study by the Institute of Customer Service,
25 percent of social media users in the UK now use social media platforms such as Facebook Twitter, and Instagram to complain during the first quarter
of 2015 - a huge climb from just 3 percent the January before [ii].

Jo Causon,
CEO of The Institute of Customer Service explained:
We have reached a point where social media is not just a necessary component
of a credible customer service strategy but one which offers powerful
insights that drive better innovation,
co-creation and collaboration.
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To make this a reality, social media needs to be a central part of a coherent, sustained and long-term focus on customer service strategy, something that many organisations are yet to do.

” Simply put, social media customer service is no longer an option, it is a requirement.
If your business has a social media presence of any sort, you should be ready and prepared to offer social media customer service.

And if you don’t have a social media presence at all, perhaps now is the time to investigate whether the demand for customer service via such channels is there
(lots more on discovering this later).

Demonstrating the growing trend towards social media as a customer service option for brands, a 2015 study from Conversocial,
a leading provider of cloud-based social customer service for global

companies found that:
55% of brand respondents now value social customer service.
26% of brand respondents now take social media seriously as a service tool.
30% of customers expect a "first contact" resolution from a social media customer service team.

That last statistic is an interesting one, and it underpins the importance of utilizing social media as a serious part of your customer service strategy.

Simply put, if a customer wants to reach out to you (particularly if they have had a bad experience and want to complain), social media is – increasingly – an avenue of contact that they will turn to first, And why ?
The proof is in experiences shared by us all.

Company phone numbers can be hard to find and expensive to call, contact center menus are often a nightmare to navigate, and wait times can be long. In addition, email and contact forms are impersonal and a rapid response is not guaranteed, sometimes taking days.
When a customer has a grievance with your company, all they want to do is resolve the issue as quickly and easily as possible; they want to reach out to you and get an empathetic response right away, not fire off an email to an invisible inbox, or wait on hold for 40 minutes.

A 2015 study by the Northridge group found that the most common reason (26% of respondents) that people reach out to companies through social media is that the other channels have failed them,

[iii] and they are doing so in increasing numbers.

Research from Sprout Social found that between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015, there was a 21% increase in messages sent globally to brands on Facebook and Twitter, compared to a 18% increase in the US.

[iv] The same report calculated that 4 in 10 of messages required a response from the brand, showing that customers aren't just mentioning businesses on social media, but expecting interaction in return.

Many commentators have suggested that the customer experience – of which customer service is a big part - is the new marketing - and they're right. Speaking to an audience in 2014, Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA explained,

“Now with social media and the connected environment we live in, a good experience can lead to thousands of connections and a negative experience can lead to potentially more than that."[v]
Robin Fray Carey - co-founder and CEO of Social Media Today – goes further, saying “…customer service is now exposed in real time to a broad audience, it’s much more a part of brand and marketing than it ever has been.

And that’s critical.
The company’s ability to address issues raised in social also becomes part of its best practice in customer service."
[vi] In a world where competition between businesses is fierce and consumers have more choice than ever, they will turn to those that provide the best service.

Speaking to Forbes in 2011, Tony Hsieh from the online shoe retailer, Zappos, explained that he sees customer service as a marketing investment, not just an expense that must constantly be slashed and analyzed.

[vii] The truth is that using social media channels only to broadcast your marketing messages will no longer be appropriate.
In order to remain authentic and strengthen bonds between you and your customers, communication must be a two-way street.
In my bestselling book,

"500 Social Media Marketing Tips,
I write about how the very essence of social media marketing lies in building strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Alongside a top notch content strategy, the ability to provide great customer service is, I would suggest, equally as important in making these strong bonds a reality.

Okay, so you realize that social media customer service is becoming an increasingly important element of your overall social strategy, and you might also be wondering
if all the hard work will be worth it.

In a word, the answer is… yes.
For starters, here are several benefits of using social media for customer service: Social customer service allows for instant resolutions to customer service issues (compared to the delays associated with email and telephone).

Tired of call centers and email support, social media gives you the perfect opportunity to provide a personal service to customers and a real way to strengthen relationships and loyalty.

They know that by posting on your Facebook wall or sending you a tweet, that they have direct contact with an individual – they ask a question and receive an
answer – no complicated phone menus or bounced emails in sight.

Conversations are public and transparent.
This gives the customer a sense of power and control as they wait for your
response. In addition, every public interaction becomes searchable on the web.

This allows other customers to find and solve their own problems (saving you money), and lets people see what fantastic customer service you provide and what a great company you are (making you money).

For businesses, social media is a platform to provide individualized, thoughtful,
and even shareable, customer service interactions not possible via any other
medium – interactions that can not only do wonders for your brand image,
but your bottom line, too.

Speaking at Customer Focus Live, a UK conference all about bettering the customer experience, Jenny Burns of national car insurance company,

RSA, said “On average it costs a company £2.80 [$4.40] to deal with a customer on a phone, but responding to queries on Twitter can reduce costs to 90 pence [$1.40].”

[viii] According to Burns, customers who get good service through social media will spend an average of 21 per cent more with the business.

And according to its own research, Twitter says customer service on its site can save up to 80 percent per interaction compared to phone calls - $1 per resolution compared to $6.

[ix] Happy customers will often post positive statuses about your service (seen by all of their friends and the wider public, boosting your reputation and the chances of being recommended to someone in future).

This could happen across multiple mediums, not just the social network where the interaction first took place.
Negative remarks about your company can be dealt with swiftly (as a way to protect your reputation),

and this can all be executed in a personalized, friendly way – treating customers like individuals in a manner and tone that is relaxed and conversational, a world away from the noise, stresses and strains of a contact center.

Following up with customers is quick and easy.
If necessary, you can reach out to customers to see if they were happy with your service, and if they need any more assistance.

Whether you’re acknowledging positive mentions or dealing with negative ones, it’s all extra opportunities to spread the visibility of your brand name.

Note: Some commentators have suggested that social media customer service is a double-edged sword.

A study in Marketing Science found that responding to customer complaints
on social media improves customer relationships,
but also increases expectations about receiving help, making them more
likely to complain on social media in future.

[x] "Social media is a double-edge sword - companies need to watch out and weigh the plus side against the downside for marketing and service interventions," said Sunder Kekre, one of the study's authors and a professor at
Carnegie Mellon University.

As far as I see it, though, as long as you are aware of this factor and keep on top of matters, the good most certainly will outweigh the bad.

As much benefit as a good customer experience can have for your brand versus other methods of communication, the potential damage that a bad instance of social media customer service can do – given the medium’s viral nature – is also greater than

other channels.

As you’ll see from real life case studies that I detail in later chapters, the pitfalls can be catastrophic, so it’s certainly not something to take lightly.

So, who is this book for ?
Delivering a stellar social media customer service – one that solves customers’ problems, increases loyalty, and inspires brand advocacy - requires careful planning, whether your business is small or large,
from a solo entrepreneur to a substantial workforce.

In this book, I will give you all of the information and tools you need, from company preparation to response strategies, and ways to measure the real impact that your operation is having on your business Heads up !

If you are a sole entrepreneur, you may feel like skipping the next chapter
(it talks more towards businesses with dedicated customer service teams),

but I’d recommend giving it at least a skim read as there’s plenty of advice that can apply to the personal development of individuals, and businesses of any size.

How to Prepare Your Business
And Staff For A Social Customer Service Strategy
“An issue that is resolved within 24 hours, at the first point of contact… can be up to 170% less costly than an issue that takes 48 hours to resolve.”

[xi] Given the rise in demand for social customer service, it is a channel that deserves increasing respect, and for those who handle incoming queries,
to have the right training.

The people who manage your customer service on social media will require just as much skill and knowledge as traditional customer service representatives
and – because they will be public-facing brand ambassadors too - need the skill set that such a position demands.

Before that, the fundamentals of a customer service strategy are as follows:
Be where your customers are It might sound obvious, but one of the critical components to providing stellar social media customer service is figuring out where to focus your time and efforts.

For many companies, Facebook and Twitter are where your audience is most likely to be active and engaged in conversations about your brand. However, you’ll know best if the likes of Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. are where you are better off.

You’ll be able to get a general sense of where your customers are with a few manual searches, but for a more detailed breakdown you might choose to comparatively analyse volumes for each social channel to help you plan when building your customer service support team.

Other things to look out for include the main pain points of your customers and what days and times they most frequently mention
(or complain) about your brand.

Leon Chaddock, CEO at Sentiment, provides some great advice for finding your audience: “While Facebook and Twitter and more often than not the first port of call for social customer service delivery, we always recommend sitting back first and monitoring the whole social sphere 360 degrees.

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Only then can you know where to start.
By using a social customer service platform that includes blog, forum, and review site monitoring you can really see what the issues people are facing with your products and services, and where they are engaging most.

You may be surprised !
Once you have this mapped out you can deploy channels one by one, set up automations to route to the right team and enable more advanced workflow.

Take it step by step, and remember social customer service isn’t a one-time set up, you need to evolve your service offering as social platforms, features and customer utilisation changes”.

[xii] Set your goals
Every good marketing strategy needs goals, and social customer service is no different.
Whether you want to handle a particular number of issues via social, improve the rate at which customer care issues are solved, boost brand advocacy, protect your reputation online, or something else,
be sure to clearly define your aims at the beginning of your structured foray into
social customer service.

With that done, you’ll be in a good position to measure your progress – I’ll talk about how to do this in a later chapter.

Now, more about the people on the frontline of customer support !
As alluded to in the introductory paragraph of this chapter, don’t expect that lumping the responsibility of social customer service onto your tech team or an untrained call center representative will produce stellar results.

Ideally, your social customer service should be integrated into your existing setup
and – from the off – feature staff who are already familiar with (and passionate about)
your business. Some of the attributes required to be a great customer service agent include: Personable:
They’ll be handling real issues from all kinds of real people, so they have to be affable and genuine in their interactions.

Despite the tendency to want to be defensive when someone complains,
they’ll need to be able to show kindness and use a genuine tone of voice while working towards a solution.

Empathetic: Customers feel happier when they sense that your company cares about solving their problems, so a good agent is able to put themselves in the shoes of
a customer, and able to show that they understand and have compassion
for the issue at hand.

Articulate: Agents will primarily be dealing with customers through the medium of text across a variety of social networks, each with its own set of cultural norms and expectations.

A good agent will not only be able to handle complaints succinctly and craft well-written responses that reflect well on your brand, but also be able to tailor their manner to match the expectations of the customer and social network in question.

As part of your recruitment, providing potential agents with test situations – timed if you wish - is a good way to gauge their writing style, and whether they work under pressure.

Composed: Depending on the size of your audience and the number of queries you receive, a customer service agent might be handling dozens of queries per day.

Whatever the amount, a good agent will have the confidence and patience to tackle all manner of queries, knowing instinctively what the best course of action should be. Inquisitive:
The best customer service agents will be eager to learn and improve their skills. Being on the front line as they are, they might even be able to teach you a thing
or two about how to steer the course of your social customer service strategy.

Note: Social media marketing is often seen as a young person’s game, but where customer service is concerned, an older candidate – someone with more life experience and, perhaps, a greater empathetic side – might be better suited to the job role. Ideally, a customer service team should be varied in age, and all be able to understand and relate to the mind set of your customers.

As a way to help streamline operations and alleviate any confusion about who should handle what queries, assign the job of social customer service manager to one – or several – people.

These people can then either respond to all customer queries themselves, or recognize the type of query (e.g. refunds, shipping, product information, etc.) and forward it to the most appropriate member of your team.

Develop a clear social media company policy, but give agents freedom
To ensure that all employees are trained to a high standard, and that the way they handle customer service over social media is consistent with your brand’s image and expectations,

developing a one-stop-shop document for staff training is essential. Important elements to include within the handbook include:
An introduction to social media and the channels your company will be using.

Despite its prevalence, don’t assume that all of your staff (even the younger ones) will be familiar with the social channels you choose to focus on.

Spend a little time introducing them, and explain how the goals for each might differ. Why your company is using social media and how it aligns with your goals.

Just as with any of your staff and other parts of your business, those that handle your social customer service need to understand how important their role is as part of the bigger picture, and that they will be encouraged and empowered to maintain high standards in accordance with this.

Educate them about what customers expect from your brand, and the values that you expect them to promote.
Tips and strategies for handling queries, engaging with customers, some examples to highlight a variety of scenarios.

Clearly explain the step-by-step process that a member of your team must use to process a customer service query on social media. Include details like the tone of voice, tips of message length, and what data to record for your own records.

Links to your company’s knowledge base. Make it as easy as possible for agents to find the answers to commonly asked questions – in text, pictorial, or video form. Host them on a website or have links to them in a document or spreadsheet, organized by category, for ease and speed.

Also, don’t forget to explain where customer service representatives can go to find answers to commonly asked questions, and what to do if a customer’s query requires escalation.

Importantly, when you provide training examples, give your staff the confidence to craft their own responses and add a personal touch, rather than copying and pasting exactly what you suggest.

You have to trust your customer service agents to treat every query individually, and give them the license to respond in the correct manner as aligned with your brand’s values.

Empowering your agents in this way has two core benefits: firstly, it gives them a feeling of authority, the flexibility to really connect with a customer when helping to solve their issue, and makes an agent’s job more rewarding.

Secondly – and as an offshoot of this – happier, more motivated staff means a more effective service and, ultimately, satisfied customers who will return in future,
and recommend you to their friends.

Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Social Media Manager at KLM mirrored these thoughts when explaining the airline's training for social customer service agents:
They get a couple of weeks training regarding what the KLM tone of voice will be, what the processes are like.
What’s different from a lot of other companies is we give them a lot of freedom.

We are like, “OK, you’re a grown-up.

You have been hired for this job because there are specific things that you are really good at. We’ve given you an extensive training, and now you’re free to do it with your own personal tone of voice, within the KLM tone of voice, of course.”

[xiii] Customers notice – and often call out - businesses who do simply regurgitate robotic responses, and this is not a good way to go about humanizing your company. Social customer service agents are relationship builders who provide personalized assistance, so trust them to do just that.

Note: As well as giving customer service agents freedom to express themselves in words, you might also consider allowing more flexibility in their actions; not all of the time, perhaps, but in cases where the pay-off might seem worth the effort.

When a mother contacted the UK retailer, Argos, on social media to explain that she’d lost a soft toy bought from the store – one that her child would not sleep without – the team went above and beyond the call of duty to find a replacement.

They were out of stock in every UK store, the manufacturer had discontinued them, but a box was eventually found in the clearance section of a website in Ireland.
The mother was overjoyed and shared her joy on social, becoming a notable brand advocate.[xiv]

Develop a clear escalation policy to senior managers for when a crisis breaks,
or a communication goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

And on a related note, build a supervisor approval loop to help with training and feedback to customer service agents;
this should help prevent the occurrence of poor customer interaction
(direct from your end, at least) occurring in the first place.

An overall company culture that makes your employees feel valued
and happy will, in turn, rub off on the way that your customer-facing staff interact
with customers on social media.
After all, these employees will be the voice of your brand and, treated well, will be proud to serve your customers impeccably.

Where, in particular, the people providing customer service are concerned,
start to see them not just as care-givers, but as social sellers.
After all, their advocacy and influence is extremely powerful.

Just like a sales team, consider providing targets and incentives
to reward performance.

Develop social cohesion throughout company departments
A social customer service strategy can only excel if it is integrated into the ecosystem of your company as a whole - from your traditional support channels, to marketing,
product development teams, and beyond.

Plan and communicate between teams to ensure that you are aware of one
another’s activity and utilise the same social management tools, and you’ll be much better prepared for potential spikes in activity.

As a way to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach, consider the two
following scenarios:
A frustrated passenger is sending tweets reporting that his flight has been delayed
for five hours, causing him to miss an important business meeting.

These tweets are spotted by the airline's customer service representative,
who is able to see from previous tweets and previous purchases that the person
is a frequent flyer and a loyal customer.
In addition to an apology, the customer service representative is able to send an electronic voucher – designed by the promotions department - that can be used to claim some free refreshments while they wait.

An angry mother is ranting on Facebook because she cannot assemble the toy robot that she bought for her son's birthday.
It's getting late and her son is becoming more upset by the minute.

The company representative spots the complaint and directs the customer to
a step-by-step video tutorial on YouTube – built by the marketing department - to help her resolve the issue.

What these scenarios have in common is the use of traditional customer service information combined with data, interactions,
and metrics attained from the social network.
Such effective multi-channel integration, resulting in targeted, real-time communication and problem solving,
is crucial to raising the bar with customer service on social.

How to Set Up A Social Listening
Strategy for Social Customer Service When someone mentions your business on social media, either directly (expecting a response) or indirectly (or not), then you should know about it and be ready to react and - where necessary - respond.

Social listening is the process of monitoring social media to find meaningful
mentions, insights, and conversations about your brand - company feedback, questions, comments, etc.
- in order to discover opportunities to reply to and influence customers - essential

for a strong customer service strategy.
Social listening can be used to spot customer service issues and respond to them in real-time, discover brand advocates, build awareness of your brand through conversations that arise, initiate contact with industry influencers, and it provides valuable audience insight.

Before continuing, it's important to make the distinction between social listening and social monitoring – two phrases that are often banded together, but have very distinct meanings: Social monitoring is a "catch all", face-value approach that recognizes every single mention of your brand and chosen keywords and looks no deeper.

Social listening, meanwhile involves more of a critical, emotional, and analytical approach, which takes into account matters like sentiment
(how people feel about you), where people are talking about you,
and patterns that may appear.

Social monitoring certainly has its uses (more automated, less of a drain
on your precious time, etc.), but social listening provides you with a more
meaningful way to connect with your audience.

Jim Doherty from the digital marketing journal, leaderswest, provides a valuable
way to help you cut through the noise to uncover opportunities that best benefit your business: “Generating actionable insights from social listening means being able
to create structure around unstructured data.

Of course, unstructured data accounts for the vast majority of content
that resides in social networks, blogs, wikis and ratings and review sites….
success in social listening means improving the signal-to-noise ratio….
(this) means honing in on the small fraction of consumer-generated posts
and comments that are relevant to the brand and that may yield actionable
insights while eliminating the ‘static,’ which is all the content with no value
to the brand. “[xv]

In addition to Doherty’s thoughts, I would remind you to mark social listening
data – the greater whole rather than individual mentions – with a caveat.

A 2015 Vision Critical study found that 85 percent of what you hear from social listening comes from only 29 percent of your audience[xvi]; the most active and vocal group do not necessarily represent the opinions of your audience as a whole.

In addition, if your business attracts a younger demographic, their opinions might be better represented on a social network where data capture is less widely available – like Snapchat, compared to the huge swathes of information that can be gleamed from Facebook and Twitter.

In short, social listening most certainly can provide valuable business insights and opportunities to engage, but should never be relied upon to determine your entire business strategy.

How to setup a social listening strategy
Identify your targets Where your customers go to get customer service from your business will depend on their preferred social network(s) – and obviously, this is where you should focus your resources.

From the advice in the last chapter, you should already have a good idea which these are, but if you don’t, now is a good time to stop and find out!

That done, the easiest way to get started with social listening is to identify a selection of keywords or phrases that you want to track mentions of.

Obviously, this should include your brand name (good mentions, bad mentions,
or indifferent – they are all opportunities to engage) but you might also want
to consider things like:
Your competitors' brand names (so that you can react to customers they miss,
or if they host special promotions that you want to counteract).
a company, industry, or promotion-specific hashtag keywords related to problems that your business can solve: your customers’ pain points – their needs, frustrations, and people asking for recommendations.

Your target audience’s likes and dislikes Phrases that customers might use when complaining about your brand,

e.g. “[your brand name] + why can’t”, “[your brand name] + how do I”,
[your brand name + problem]”.

It goes without saying that the more keywords and phrases you choose, the  bigger the potential for opportunities to engage with mentions of said keywords and phrases becomes.

However, you don't want to become overwhelmed or to dilute your ability to listen well, so perhaps just start off with one or two and go from there.

Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner also relays some intriguing insights into how the way that you listen can save time and generate actionable results:
“If all you’re going to do is monitor for a two-word mention of your brand name,
you’re going to get a lot of crap and have to sift through it which
will be time-consuming.

I always tell my clients to think about it in the form of a question.
So maybe if you're Coca Cola, you might say something like “what do people like about Pepsi's flavour” and then you could set up a query that correlates to that question.

So instead of just searching for the name Pepsi, instead of just searching
for the term ‘better’, instead of just searching for a positive sentiment,
you're looking for something very specific and you're looking for something that can help you with product development.

Maybe another question that you may want to ask is “what do people like about Pepsi's brand name”.

Then you'll start looking at things like colour and you'll start looking into the logo. These are very specific things that you're searching for that can bring you to a business action and so what I advise my clients is put it in the form of a question and set up your query to meet the demands of that question and that's the most important thing.”[xvii]

Note: Research conducted by Mention in 2014[xviii] found that over 30% of tweets containing company names did not include said company's
Twitter @handle.
So, if you're not listening for mentions without your "@handle", you're potentially missing out on a huge chunk of chances to engage.

For even more complete searches, try including similar spellings or common misspellings that are related to your brand or listening topic.

Choose your listening tools
Social listening can mean something as simple as manually checking your social profiles for mentions two or three times a day, and searching for the keywords and phrases that you identified earlier.

However, as a more efficient and effective way of carrying out the task, you’re much better off relying on automated tools – simply let them do their job while you carry on with other tasks, then assign a time to check in and see what needs your attention.

Let’s take a look at some different monitoring tools how to use them:
Native social network notifications All of the big social networks will allow you to set up email notifications to brief you about mentions and messages on your business’ profile or page.

Here’s a quick look at the options available for three of the most popular:
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Facebook: In the Settings of your Facebook Page, click Notifications in the sidebar and you will be able to toggle when, and how often,
Facebook notifies you on the site – and by email – every time there is activity,
or a message, on your Page. Twitter:
Twitter’s email notification options are much more comprehensive than Facebook’s.

Accessed via the Email Notifications option within Twitter Settings,
they offer a myriad of options including activity related to you and your tweets
(mentions, favorites, replies, follows, etc.),
activity related to your retweets
(when retweets are marked as favorites or when they are retweeted),
and activity from your network
(top tweets and stories, overall performance of tweets,
and other recommendations).

Pinterest: Pinterest’s email notification options can – you guessed it – be found in the Notifications section of your Account Settings.

From here, you can toggle options to receive notices including when people interact with your pins and your account,  and whether you want these to come from everyone, or just people you follow.

Google Alerts: Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts)
is advertised as a way to “monitor the web for interesting new content.”
In the case of social listening, all of that content is yours !
Simply type in a keyword of phrase that you want to be alerted about, then play with the options to select how often you want to be alerted, from which sources, how many results you receive, etc.

Talkwalker Alerts: As an alternative to Google Alerts, be sure to check out
Talkwalker Alerts (http://www.talkwalker.com), which claims to lift more high quality, relevant results than its competitor.

As well as alerts being delivered to your email inbox, you can also choose to receive them in your RSS Feed reader.

Real-time alerts Email notifications are sufficient as a social listening method for many small businesses: receive the notification, and batch handle the responses.

However, if you think you'd benefit from the ability to listen and react to queries in real time, there are plenty of tools to help you do that, although there is a cost associated, normally a monthly subscription.

Whichever tools you decide to listen to the social activity of your audience and whether you decide on a free or paid option, make sure that they allow you to meet your goals for social customer service in as efficient a manner as possible.

Measure sentiment to gauge your brand’s social media health Sentiment analysis is a way to get an overview of the feelings and emotions of an audience in response to your brand - normally graded as positive, negative, or neutral.

Depending on the size of your audience, manually measuring sentiment isn't
a fast or easy task.
It would involve recording every mention, and scoring each one individually.

Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there that will provide automatic sentiment analysis; a way to provide you with a general overview of your brand's health without the massive time drain of doing it all manually.

The same tools can also be used to tell you how your brand or product is being perceived compared to your main rivals, help you to judge the success of new product launches or initiatives, and – if there is a sharp change in the sentiment – help you
to prepare for, or avoid, a social media crisis.

A selection of popular paid social media sentiment-measuring tools:
UberVU: http://www.ubervu.com/
Trackur: http://www.trackur.com/
Mention: http://www.mention.com/

If the aim of your social listening strategy is to take you beyond simple “search and react” activity, to a stage where you would like to measure people’s sentiment towards your brand, then I’d recommend setting a benchmark first.

Set aside some time (e.g. one week, one month) to see, on average, what the percentage split is between the three different types of sentiment.

Once you have a benchmark to refer to, you will be able to tell whether your new
or revised social efforts are making a real, data-driven difference to your business.
For argument’s sake, setting some time aside to review sentiment vs.

your benchmark once per quarter will help you determine whether you need to keep things going on the same track, or to change course to improve.

Summing up Earlier on, we explored what attributes a really effective social media customer care agent needs and in following chapters, we’ll take a specific look at handling complaints on social media (one of the major listening points) and when
you might choose not to engage;
but whenever you assess any opportunity to interact with a customer, it pays to remember that your response must be authentic, sincere,
and – where possible - valuable.

Social listening is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect, but getting good could provide far-reaching benefits for your business.

Lighten Your Load: Be Proactive, Help Customers Help Themselves 75%
of customers say self service is a convenient way to address customer service issues, and 67% prefer it over speaking to a real person – Nuance Enterprise, [xix]

If you have a social media presence, receiving customer service enquiries via social media is an inevitability.
In later chapters, I’ll cover how best to handle interactions when they arise, but first
I want to stress the importance of, and give you some tips to help prevent some of them coming your way (particularly the negative ones!),

what to do if you typically receive the same kinds of questions over and over again, and how you can go one step further by approaching customers before they come to you, or follow-up with customers who have already been dealt with.

The benefits of a proactive approach to customer service
Many businesses do not put a proactive customer service strategy in place because they are used to operating a reactive-only approach, or worried about the extra cost and resources involved.
However, research shows that the benefits can often outweigh the investment.

A 2013 study by in Contact discovered that 87% of customers wanted
to be contacted proactively by a business that they have used, and more than
seven in ten respondents said that, after having been contacted proactively,
their perception of the business getting in touch with them had improved.[xx]

inContact’s data refers to telephone calls, but a similar kind of follow-up on
social media, would, you imagine, be welcomed by customers too.

In the long term, a proactive approach can help to improve customer retention and loyalty, and reduce the volume of incoming issues.

Tips and strategies When building your social media customer service strategy, it is useful to see things from your customers’ perspective.

When they want answers, they want to find them quickly, so part of your job is to make this process as easy as possible – be proactive so that you don’t have to be reactive later on down the line.

Before they email, call, or turn to social media, their first port of call is likely
to be your website; use it as a hub for all of the kinds of information that won’t
require – or will prevent the need for – human intervention.

Some simple action steps include: Building a FAQs page on your
website – and making it very visible – in order to catch and solve the most common of customer queries with no additional labor on your part.
It is crucial that you target all of the above resources at your customers’ level of knowledge and ability.

The last thing you want is to promise them self-serve help and fail, forcing them to raise a complaint. Filming video tutorials to help customers better understand your products, and guide them through everything they will need to know.

These videos can be hosted on your website, YouTube, or even posted natively on the social network:

Before You Begin: Key Considerations For All Social Media Marketing Peer pressure, success stories in the media and general hype tell today’s business owners that having a presence on social media is essential.

That’s not to say a business couldn’t do well without utilizing social networking, but they’d certainly be missing out on a myriad of opportunities to build and grow.

While there is a possibility that you will get really lucky, in most cases this kind of unplanned approach will lead to unrealistic goal-setting, poor results, a huge waste of time, and ultimately a defeatist attitude that discourages you from the idea of social media marketing completely.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you – and to give you the best chance of success - I urge you to digest the key considerations for social media marketing detailed below.

By the end of this chapter you will have a firm understanding of what kind of approach works for business on social media and how to pursue your efforts in..

Successful business
Plan Tips The Secret to write a Successful business Plan: on Amazon
The Secret to Write A Successful business Plan
As a small business mentor, I meet many entrepreneurs who are interested in launching a business, growing a business, or starting a nonprofit.

Here are three typical client stories:  Fred came into our mentoring session
with a big smile and his laptop fired up.

After introductions, I asked how I could help him. He started waving his hands and said with obvious pride that he was quitting his job as a mid-level accountant in a big manufacturing company and was planning to open a bed and breakfast that catered to company off-site meetings in a resort community two hours away.

He further mentioned that his goals were to earn $1 million, be his own boss, and set his own schedule.
Many thoughts were going through my mind on how to respond to this news, but what I said was,
“Do you have a business plan?”
I knew that if Fred could write a quality business plan that would convince
a bank to len…

The Three Phases Of The Marketing Journey

The marketing process is a journey we want to guide our ideal target market through. We want to guide them from not knowing we exist right through to being a raving fan customer.

Through this journey there are three distinct phases that we guide them through. These phases are the Before, During and After2 phases of your marketing process.

The following is a brief overview of each of these phases. Before We label people going through the before phase as a prospects.

At the beginning of the “before” phase, prospects typically don’t even know you exist. The successful completion of this phase results in the prospect knowing who you are and indicating interest. Example:
Tom is a busy business owner and is frustrated that he can’t keep his contacts
in sync between his laptop and smartphone.

He searches online for a solution and comes across an ad with the headl…

How to Handle A Social Customer Service
Crisis As fantastic as social media can be as a vehicle to spread positive sentiment about your brand, there comes a significant pitfall - bad messages can spread just as quickly, damaging the reputation of your company !
Sometimes even the smallest mishap can gather a momentum of its own before you realize it, so it helps to be prepared so that you emerge through a crisis - however big or small - unharmed.

As you've seen from plenty of the examples throughout this book, one isolated incident like a nasty comment or unhappy customer - problems that will arise frequently and if dealt with appropriately – will not cause a huge issue.

The main characteristic that a crisis might be looming on the horizon tends to be that of numerous people contacting you about the same issue - either to do with your product, service, or your industry at large.

These messages will, no doubt, highlight the problem right away - whether it's a website malfunction, a major news story, or a case of bad customer service
that has gone public.

Unlike common problems with a relatively simple resolution for both customer
and company, crisis situations are events that could do your brand
(and bottom line) long term damage if you don't handle them swiftly,
and in the correct manner.

In situations like this, I would recommend that one person – ideally someone higher up in the chain of command - be responsible for managing your company’s reaction to the situation, particularly in co-ordinating a clear and consistent response across different departments.

Like all complaints on social media, the worst thing you can do is ignore
the situation – especially with something as potentially harmful as a crisis.

As we have covered in previous chapters, don’t jump on the defensive, don’t try to justify your actions, don’t lie, and, don’t hide from criticism.

Ignore this at your peril… you do not want a situation like the following, a now infamous meltdown by Amy’s Baking Company Bakery & Bistro.

When Reddit users criticized the company boss’ appearance on the television show, Kitchen Nightmares[xxix], the boss of Amy’s Baking Co.

took to Facebook to lash out with an expletive-filled public rant, and plenty
of ill-advised responses to potential customers.
It might have made her feel better at the time, but the public response was overwhelmingly negative. Here’s just two snippets:

Phew!  With that out the way, let’s take a look at some clear and actionable strategies for handling the two most common types of social media crises - technical glitches, and internal issues gone public – in a calm, clear, and logical manner.

Technical glitches and similar issues
In cases where a technical glitch affects a significant portion of your audience
who are bound to investigate when they notice something is wrong, a useful tactic
is to use social media to tell people before they ask.

Own up to the problem and tell customers you are fixing it Publish a post and pin it to the top of your feed so that you can let customers know that you are aware of the issue, and provide updates about when it will be solved.

Here’s a good example from “buying and selling” app, Wallapop USA, with an added touch of humor to help to lighten the mood of the situation situation: Knowing your social media audience and how they perceive your brand persona here is key.

For Wallapop, apologetic humor was right for them, but if your audience would appreciate a more serious response, give it to them. In addition, and if at all possible, try to give an estimate about when the issue will be fixed – like Marvel Support does in the following example.

This will hopefully prevent the same customers contacting you frequently for updates: Not everyone is going to read your “we know there’s a problem – hang in there while we try to fix it!” status update, so it’s handy to have a stock answer available to quickly handle any flurries of queries that might come your way.

Activision Support uses a tried and tested structure to handle such correspondents.
It apologizes, let’s the customer know they are aware of the problem, provides them with a link where they can monitor updates to the situation
(therefore halting any more interaction on social media), and thanks the customer for their patience.

Customer service interaction gone viral If a social media crisis has been caused by an internal issue – like an unhappy customer sharing an offensive conversation with one of your staff, or if an ex-employee starts spreading damaging anecdotes, the steps to take are different.

Own up to the problem, and do it quickly.
In 2012, a KitchenAid employee accidentally tweeted an offensive comment about President Barack Obama from the brand’s official account:
Although the tweet was quickly deleted, it had already been screen-grabbed and started spreading like wildfire.

Something had to be done, and quickly.
Within minutes, head of the KitchenAid brand,
Cynthia Soledad, followed up with a tweet to apologize: On Facebook, the more generous character limit gave Soledad a chance to explain the situation further:

In situations like the above, it is imperative that, in addition to taking full responsibility for the mistake, you show compassion and that you will be taking action
to rectify the issue.
The infamous Target troll What if a customer service crisis occurs as the result of the actions of a troll ? Someone intent on doing harm to your reputation.

In August 2015, US retailer Target very nearly faced this situation.
At the time, it had announced via its corporate site that it would be making several sections of its stores more gender-neutral:
“Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance.

For example, in the kids’ Bedding area, signs will no longer feature suggestions for boys or girls, just kids.

In the Toys aisles, we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves. You’ll see these changes start to happen over the next few months.” The change didn’t go down too well with some customers, who took to social media to complain. Anticipating such behaviour, Facebook user Mike Melgaard decided to set up a fake Facebook profile posing as a Target customer service representative, using the name AskForHelp with the Target logo as his profile photo: He told Adweek[xxx]: "Immediately, I knew there would be your typical outraged American spouting emotional

reactions on their Facebook page. After taking a look, I was literally laughing out loud at my computer. A few more minutes in and it struck me how hilarious it would be to portray myself as a parody customer service rep.

So, I did just that, and the rest was history.
Honestly, it was like striking comedy gold.
Every one of these people gave me the ammunition I needed for a great response." After sixteen hours, and about 50 responses,

Melgaard’s fake Target profile was banned, but that was more than enough time to create a viral story - Adweek's article notched up over 167,000 Facebook shares – and, I’m sure, confused or upset some customers. While Melgaard's responses were generally light-hearted, things could so easily have gone the other way.

Examples like this highlight the importance of nipping potential crises in the bud, and how a strong social listening strategy ties into making sure this happens.

Following up After every social crisis has died down, it’s a good idea to close the event with a public follow-up to reassure customers and show that you are open to handling any lingering concerns.
With the Target Troll example in mind, the retailer issued an official response:

"At Target, we are committed to providing outstanding guest service to our guests wherever we engage with them—in our stores, online, or on our social pages.

Clearly this individual was not speaking on behalf of Target. Should guests ever have questions on whether a communication from Target is legitimate, we encourage them to reach out to guest relations at 1-800-440-0680." Then, soon after, Target posted the above photo and caption to both their Facebook and Twitter accounts, which many speculated was a playful nod to Melgaard’s prank.

Measuring Social Media Customer Service A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% – Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy.

As with any strategic business plan of action, it is essential that you measure the impact of your social media customer service so that you can improve performance, justify the time and monetary investment, and spotlight its value to your brand.

Don’t forget to set a benchmark in order to be able to show progress (or lack thereof) inyour activity, andensure your engagement app includes a supervisor dashboard to give senior managers a real-time overview of agent engagement, all in a single interface to benchmark KPIs.

Suggested key performance indicators for social media customer service Here’s a list of some of the key metrics that are important to measure and benchmark: Message volume: How many mentions (worth acting upon) does your brand receive per day, per week, and per month ?
And when are these interactions happening ?
You can also tally messages that did not need, or warrant a reply.

Contact type:
Analyse incoming messages to deduce the kinds of queries that customers
submit the most.
This will help you to prioritise resources or training in key areas.

Tagging functionality in an engagement tool will help with this.  
Response rate and response time: How many customers do you reply to within a certain time frame, and how fast, on average are you able to reply to inbound messages ?
On Facebook, remember, this calculation is provided for you in the Response Rate metric of your business page.

Sentiment and sentiment shift: What is the tone of a customer when they contact you (positive, negative, or neutral), and is their mood shifted by the end of your conversation? Compound the data you receive by asking customers to fill in a short satisfaction survey.

First post resolution:How many customer issues were able to be resolved
in one reply ? Did the issue need to be handled via another communication medium like e-mail or telephone?Again, tagging functionality in an engagement tool will help you keep track on these.

Specific Customer Service
Strategies For Facebook and Twitter All of the information we’ve covered so far can be applied in a general manner to popular social networks, but in this short chapter
I want to highlight some of the ways that you can take advantage of individual social networks’ features to support your customer service strategy.

Facebook Pin a post: Use Facebook’s “Pin to Top” feature to sticky a customer service-related status to the top of your Page’s timeline.
All new posts will publish below it until the pinned post is unpinned or 7 days has elapsed, whichever happens first.

Alternatively, use the “Highlight” feature to mark a post as important.
It will be adorned with a little blue star, but not be pinned to the top of your timeline.
Both features can be accessed by clicking on the “down arrow” drop-down menu on any status. Hashtags: Hashtags on Facebook can be clicked or searched for to show a stream of posts that includes said tag.

Customer service agents can utilize brand-centric hashtags (like #yourcompanyname) to get a quick idea of what people are saying about you and your brand on Facebook. Saved replies:
If you often receive many of the same queries to your Facebook Page’s Message inbox, then Saved Replies will be a lifesaver.

The feature allows you to prepare canned responses that can be personalised with elements like the customer’s name, your name, your business address, etc.,
before being sent back in an impressively swift timeframe.

Accessed via the “Messages” tab of your Facebook Page
(click on any inbox conversation to begin), you can also search through previous replies (to perhaps save you from writing a whole new response to a similar issue in the past), and upload images to your messages too.

Response Rate and Time:
Facebook Pages now display an overview of your message response rate and average response time.
When a Page has a high response rate, this information is displayed publicly to visitors alongside a green message icon right below the Cover photo which says "Very responsive to messages.

" To have this icon appear, your Page must - in the past 7 days - responded to at least 90% of messages, and maintained a median response time of 5 minutes for all replies sent. So, not an easy feat to achieve but well worth it for the reputation boost !
To help you boost your response rate, you may want to consider downloading the free Pages mobile app, so that you can respond to messages on the go.

Custom tab app: Consider installing a custom tab on your Facebook page, dedicated to customer service and support options.

The tab's app might include details like frequently asked questions and links to other methods of contact for further queries, e.g. telephone, email, live chat.

Content for custom tabs can be coded manually via Static HTML app (search and install it on Facebook), or via services like Pagemodo (http://www.pagemodo.com) or Woobox (http://www.woobox.com).

Facebook Insights: When your Page has received at least 30 likes, Facebook
Insights – the social network’s analytics tool - will become available to use.

Monitoring your performance and audience here will help you to un understand how customers are engaging with your brand, and allow you to gauge the resources you will need for effective support on the platform.

Replying Privately to Comments: As of summer 2015, Page admins can reply to public comments with a private message, great for helping to solve a customer query more privately.

After clicking on the "Message" button next to a comment (it'll be there as long as the person has not chosen to block private messages from businesses), Facebook's chat window will pop up, along with a link to the customer's comment for reference.

Once you have sent a message, the original comment will show a note that you have responded privately, so that other visitors to your Page know that you're on top of things.

Commutation via ads:
A “Send Message” call-to-action button - available for local awareness ads - allows customers to start private conversations with business Pages from News Feed ads. Incoming messages include an attachment that shows which ad prompted the person to initiate the conversation.

Twitter Pinned Tweets:
Just like Facebook, you have the option to pin an important tweet to the top of your profile’s feed. Unlike Facebook pinned posts (that, as mentioned, will unpin themselves after 7 days), Twitter’s pinned posts will remain indefinitely, so remember not to leave it lingering unnecessarily.

Consider Direct Messaging: Twitter’s Direct Message (DM) feature allows customers to contact you privately, and you might want to encourage them to do so for queries that include sensitive information.

In the past, Twitter users must both have been following one another in order for a DM conversation to begin. This is no longer the case – but only if you opt-in via the Privacy section of your Twitter Settings (scroll down and check the “Receive Direct Messages” box.

Once you’ve enabled this feature, a “Message” icon will appear at the top of your profile for users to more easily get in touch. Hold regular Twitter Chats:

Twitter Chats (also known as “tweet chats”) are public conversations or Q&A sessions that are underpinned by a common hashtag. Where customer service is concerned, you might want to schedule a regular Twitter chat,

e.g. the last Friday of every month, between 5pm and 6pm, to allow customers to ask questions or provide feedback that you can respond to in real time. Make sure to advertise your Twitter Chats in advance,

utilize a unique hashtag to avoid any confusion when tracking queries, and assign someone to steer the topics of conversation, retweet awesome feedback, open and close the chat, etc. Have a dedicated customer service channel:

For bigger brands who receive a lot of questions and queries through social media,
a dedicated Twitter profile is a good way to syphon issues away from your primary handle and make triaging issues simpler.

Use the bio section of your main account to direct users’ to tweet at your support profile for help. Inevitably, some customers will default queries to your brand’s main account, but you can then send replies from the support profile.

The downside of a dedicated support channel? From a vanity-laden point of view,

it’s probably going to have fewer followers than your main account, so any brilliantly positive interactions won’t have the same reach as your main profile.

Regardless of which route you choose, some angry customers will not bother to look up your username – they’ll just make one up,

or use your brand name, and expect a reply – which is where listening for all mentions of your brand name becomes so crucial.

Make customers aware of your Twitter-based customer service wherever
they may be,

e.g. on marketing materials, by embedding a “Tweet to @[yoursupportaccount] button on your website, or in leaflets shipped out with products.

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