Customer Service and Why Social Media Comments Matter

I’m going to share a fictitious scenario about social media and customer service with you (and how they intersect), but keep in mind that this is based on real brands and how they interact with their customers.

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I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and ask yourself how you would feel about being treated this way by a brand.

Scenario 1: The Thankful Brand

In this scenario, we have a popular brand that sells a popular product (let’s say running shoes). This brand regularly publishes inspiring images and quotes for runners, blog posts related to running, and, from time to time, shares images and stats on their latest running shoes and accessories.

And people love it.

Runners especially love the brand, and they comment regularly on all the brand’s social media posts. They like, they share, they retweet, they regram… you get the picture. But one thing they do is comment, and comment constantly. Their comments are informed. Their comments are intelligent. Their comments asked pointed questions.

From time to time, their comments having absolutely nothing to do with the image and are completely related to customer service. Maybe they’re having difficulty with a product, maybe they’re unable to reach a human being through customer service. Maybe they’re simply having trouble logging in to their account (because this brand, which hasn’t really thought out the whole connected customer experience thing, isn’t using social login, something that 73% of customers prefer over traditional registration forms).

(In fact, to go off on a tiny tangent, social login not only improves the customer experience, but it also may be connected to customers spending more time on your website.)

But, no matter what’s happening, no matter how people are responding to this brand or commenting, the brand does the same thing, over and over. They have a single comment—and they use it liberally. No matter what people say on social media, the brand says: “Thanks”. It’s like they have a template (and they probably do). Or maybe two or three.

And when they use those templates (and only those templates), it’s infuriating.

It looks a little something like this:

  1. “I love your shoes!” —Thanks for commenting
  2. “My shoes came without insoles and I can’t get ahold of customer service. Help?” —Thanks for commenting
  3. “Do you guys think that long-distance running is better for you than sprinting?” —Thanks for commenting

As we go down the line of these comments we see:

  1. The brand possibly responding appropriately but missing an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with their client (and maybe even give them a sweet coupon or deal)
  2. A customer who is probably going to return their shoes and say how horribly hard it was to find someone who cared about the broken product they got sent, how it was a waste of time and money to get these shoes
  3. A missed opportunity to create some really engaging content (in the form of a comment) that people will just love, to the point that the comment becomes itself a form of valuable content (you can see this in action on in the comments section of this video. The creator answers, in great detail, many different comments, and his comments are so amazing that they’re actually forms of valuable content that people are interested in apart from the video).

By not even trying to think out their comments, by not even attempting to make their comments into anything valuable, this brand is not only ruining their customer’s experience, but they’re making themselves look, frankly, stupid.

Now, in their defense, it’s a bold move to give your customer support teams the authority to make decisions on the ground and reply with comments that add value to the conversation.

I understand why brands are afraid to do this, I do—but if you can educate your customer support team to the point that they feel comfortable doing this (and you feel comfortable letting them do this), your brand will look infinitely better than the competition.

And the customer experience will improve exponentially.

Social Media and Customer Experience—Your Comments Are Content, Just Like a Blog Post, and They Need to Be Well Thought Out

Comments need to add value—they need to respond to the customer appropriately. If your comments are garbage, it detracts, significantly, from the customer experience. People nowadays expect you to respond to them on social media, accurately and with clear knowledge that you know what they’re talking about. Your customer expect you to connect with them. 53% of people in this survey expect a response on Twitter, to anything they tweet the brand about, within an hour. And in that same survey, it was found that over 70% of users expected a response period. And it doesn’t end on social media. 52% of your customers expect you to respond to their reviews.

This is all part of a connected customer experience. Human beings (you know, your customers) expect to be able to connect to brands through social media (and in a variety of other contexts through a variety of other digital platforms) in a way that simply wasn’t possible 50 years ago. Going digital isn’t just about getting on the same level as your competitors—it’s at the heart of digitization itself.

And, believe it or not, your comments on social media (or your lack thereof) play an integral role in a connected customer experience.

CX strategies can easily run off the rails, but and one of the main disconnects often lies between how a brand acts in all the different channels where it connects with the customer (drip emails, welcome emails, emails generally, customer service calls, interactions in the store or with technicians, attempts to return products, interactions on the website) and how the brand reacts to comments on social media.

If You’re Looking at Social Media as a Platform for Shouting From the Rooftops, You’re Doing It Wrong

One of the most common mistakes that brands make these days is to look at social media as a giant megaphone. Which isn’t how social media is meant to be used at all. In fact (and I hope this doesn’t blow your mind), social media is meant to be social *gasp*!

I know, shocking.

Imagine that you’re in a room filled with people. In this room are some people you would very much like to get to know, to connect with, to maybe do business with. Everyone is walking around, talking to each other, having a good time, drinking a few drinks, eating some hors d’oeuvres, and generally doing the networking thing in the least-awkward way possible. And it’s working. Business cards are being exchanged. Meetings are being scheduled. Some folks are just making new friends and having a good time, and that’s okay too (it could lead to business down the road, or it could just lead to both brands getting recognition by the other).

And then, the door to this fictional room blasts open, and in walks a woman with a giant megaphone.

Everyone stops to stare. She doesn’t move, she doesn’t say anything to anyone, she doesn’t get an h’orderve, she doesn’t even get a drink.

Slowly, she raises the megaphone to her lips. And then she begins to shout. As loud as she can. At the top of her lungs. She begins to scream about her products. She blasts out information about her services. People are covering their ears or looking awkwardly at corners or praying that she’ll just go away, but she only tries harder.

Some people come up to her and actually ask questions, proffer business cards. They are summarily ignored. She continues her tirade into the megaphone about the incredible value of her services and the deals she currently has available. Several people actually brave her sonic assault and try to get more details about her offers, but they, too, are ignored.

Finally, she finishes her verbal madness and walks out of the room. She has not connected with a single person there. And worse, she has alienated many people who already knew her, who might actually have done business with her at one point.

A small group of people are setting themselves mental reminders to never, ever do business with her.

This Is Scenario 2, and It Is, in Many Ways, Worse Than Scenario 1—The Prolific-Yet-Silent Poster

This is the person who floods social media with the same handful of posts, over and over, and ignores any comments completely. This is the brand that views social media as a megaphone, who is completely unwilling to view their customers as people, who will not even bother to connect with other brands or their customers, to try to actually be social on social media.

Instead, they will look at social media as an advertising platform, and their customer’s experience with them will probably be 1 of 2 things:

  1. Their customers will follow them for a short period of time, realize that the brand doesn’t care about them at all, realize that they post the same things over and over, and stop following them.
  2. Their customers will become so incensed at being ignored that the will block the brand, never buy anything from that brand again, and will actively tell their friends to never buy a thing from that horrible brand.

The customer experience suffers, and the brand looks foolish.

One Horrible Customer Experience Reverberates Into the Future and Affects Many Potential Customers—Is That Something You’re Willing to Risk?

78% of customers in this survey gave up on a transaction because of poor customer experience (I can feel their pain—I’ve done the same). Another source (found in this same compilation article) found that a bad customer service experience is shared twice as often as a good customer service experienceThis extends to social media. Social media and customer service aren’t just connected—they’re intertwined.

In fact, you could say that social media and the customer experience are really molded so tightly together that it’s difficult to separate the two. If you’re not acutely aware of that on social media, people will notice. And it will affect your brand negatively.

Your Comments Are Effective Pieces of Content Themselves—Don’t Overlook Their Power

If you’re not engaging with your customers, if you’re just blasting out info on social media, you’re losing out. And if your products or services have any sort of problem at all, you’ll end up looking like the social media disaster that is Frontier Communications (seriously, just look at the comments on this Facebook video of theirs as an example).

I want you to think of social media differently, to look at it as a primarily social enterprise, to see commenting, both to your customers and on the pages of others, to see posting less and engaging more as the most important thing you can be doing when it comes to social media. 

To think of being social as the point of social media, whether that be with your customers or with other brands, and to really listen, to think out your comments thoroughly, to respond quickly and to help as much as possible.

If you do all that, you can’t help but succeed.

 

Adam Fout

About 

Adam Fout, resident content sorcerer at Blue Steele Solutions, turns blogs and social media accounts into marketing machines for businesses. Connect with Adam on Twitter.


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