Use social media as a customer service channel
Social media has somewhat replaced phone calls and emails (at least in the millennials age bracket). In light of this, companies need to take the necessary steps to set up their organisation to be able to utilise social media as a customer service channel to engage with customers and increase brand loyalty (Williams, A. 2015).
James Fleet, CEO of Appliances Online, says his company treats a Facebook message just as they would a phone call or email.
“We use social to increase customer loyalty by providing fast and accurate support to questions. We treat a Facebook message the same way we do an email or phone call to our customer service team.” (Williams, A. 2015)
Companies need to evolve their customer relationship management (CRM) and provide contact points (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) that engage the customer and empower the consumer as well as the company (Malthouse, E. C, Haenlein, M, Skiera, B, Wege, E & Zhang, M. 2013.)
Companies should leverage the benefits of social media interaction to enhance sales and marketing.
Create a community on social networks
Vice president of software provider CitiXsys: Paula Da Silva believes that loyalty and social media are inseparable because they effectively combine to create virtual customer networks. Social media becomes a place whereby people can interact, review, or share content about your brand, he believes its vital for these networks to be encouraged and leveraged correctly (Williams, A. 2015)
Da Silva believes marketers should set up fan pages and communities that offer access to extra information.
These could include promotional offers and exclusive online-only events or contests that only members of the social network group can participate in. This will create hype, and then you can complement that through the creation of community, by always ensuring you acknowledge and respond to fan comments. With these few simple steps, social channels can become an integral part of any loyalty program.(Williams, A. 2015)
Maintain authenticity in your posts
Consider your brand as a person for a moment. Someone who is authentic and honest, is generally trusted and well liked. People who are fake and deceiving are generally speaking, not trusted. This thinking can be used for brands as well. Using an authentic tone online builds trust and more importantly, brand loyalty. It gives the company a certain personality, and a human element of which people can relate to.
Avoid formulated responses and try to hold conversations with your consumers through social media platforms. Also don’t be afraid to express an opinion in dialogue with a customer, this will further your authenticity in the eyes of the consumer. (Alton, L. 2015)
Use social listening tools to let your customers know you care
There is an array of programs you can use to ‘listen’ to your customers on social media. Programs such as Sparkcentral, Sproutsocial, Respond and Lithium all allow you to create a connection with your customers.
These programs allow you to monitor, start or join social conversations in a timely manner, in doing so you will significantly increase the reputation of your brand and place yourself in a bracket above your competition.
View negative feedback as an opportunity rather than an insult
Negative feedback can sometimes come as a shock to companies and they can quickly get on the defensive, it’s hard to accept defeat in situations like this. Instead of trying to disprove your customer’s argument for what’s wrong with your product, have fun with it, and reply with something of value. (Shiff, J. L 2015)
Good brands have a separate handle to deal with customer complaints (Nike uses @NikeSupport and Spotify uses @SpotifyCares). These brands reply quickly and you should too. Your consumers are going to appreciate humour in replies; it plays into people’s innate human nature and creates a real connection.
An example of funny, and relatable customer service interaction by Argos.
Use social media to engage with influencers who can act as brand advocates
Influencer marketing is a hot trend in digital marketing at the moment, marketers have realised that bloggers and vloggers with big followings can do a hell of a lot in convincing your target market to buy your product. I’m sure you can all relate to seeing your favourite blogger or vlogger use or mention a particular product in their blogs/vlogs and subtlety mention how useful it is. This is influencer marketing.
Boxed water used bloggers Jaime King, Megan DeAngelis and Aidan Alexander to market their campaign, which was an initiative to plant two trees for every boxed water photo posted with the hashtag #Retree. One month after the campaign launched, there were upwards of 2,600 photos with the hashtag #Retree. Influencer marketing works.
Boxed water’s #Retree campaign proved to be a huge success.
Alton, L. 2015. 7 Ways To Make Your Brand More Authentic On Social Media. https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/07/more-authentic-brands/
Baird, C. H & Parasnis, G. 2011. IBM Global Business Services. Executive Report. From social media to Social CRM. What customers want. https://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/global/files/se__sv__commerce__from_social_media_to_social_crm.pdf
Churchill, Z. 2015. Why authenticity on social media is important.. for everyone. http://www.maxandbuddyconsulting.com.au/why-authenticity-on-social-media-is-important-for-everyone/
GroupHigh. What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?http://www.grouphigh.com/social-media-influencers/
Malthouse, E. C, Haenlein, M, Skiera, B, Wege, E & Zhang, M. 2013. Journal of Interactive Marketing 27. 270-280. Managing customer relationships in the social media era: introducing the social CRM house. http://www.socialmediathinklab.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/5-Malthouse_Haenlein_Skiera_Wege_Zhang_2013_JIM_Managing-Customer-Relationships-in-the-Social-Media-Era.pdf
Shiff, J. L. 2015. 7 ways social media can improve customer satisfaction. http://www.cio.com/article/2984024/social-networking/7-ways-social-media-can-improve-customer-satisfaction.html
Sprung, R. 2013. 4 Examples of Excellent Twitter Customer Service. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/exceptional-customer-service-on-twitter/
Talbot, K. 5 Brand on Instagram That Succeed With Influencer Marketing. June 3, 2015. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-brands-on-instagram-that-succeed-with-influencer-marketing/
Teso, C. 2016. 5 Ways to Improve Customer Loyalty With Social Media. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-ways-to-improve-customer-loyalty-with-social-media/
Williams, A. 2015. Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty. http://www.cmo.com.au/article/590018/four-ways-use-social-media-boost-customer-loyalty/