Guest Post by Daniel Bishop
Over the past decade, social networks became an essential part of our everyday life. From their humble beginning as a means of staying in touch with friends, sharing interesting content, and expressing our opinions, social networks evolved into hubs of all our online activity. Businesses rightly saw this as an opportunity to expand their relationships with customers, to the mutual benefit of both. As a result, social media are now integral to marketing, sales, and customer service.
With that being said, most businesses are yet to leverage the full potential of social media. We still regularly read stories of companies botching their social media efforts by unintentionally offending customers and the like. Most mistakes of this sort could have been avoided if the company in question had just devoted more time to iron out the kinks in their social media operation.
Ignorance is the root of all evil according to Plato, so a company that knows how social media works will be in a better position to use it properly. So if you need to update your knowledge on how to best engage with the customer on social media, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will cover all you need to know about using social media to improve your customer experience.
What is Customer Experience, and Why is Important
To put it simply, customer experience (CX) is how your potential and existing customers feel about your business. These can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between. Naturally, you want your customer experience to be positive. Word spreads quickly on the web, so if your customers walk away unsatisfied after interacting with your business, you can be sure that people will find out about it sooner or later. And once the word is out on the streets that you are not meeting your customers’ expectations, you can expect to see falling profits, churn, and bad PR across the board.
The upshot to all of this is that positive customer experience can provide measurable benefits to your business. Satisfied customers are more likely to remain your patrons over time. They are also more likely to spend more on your products and services in the long run. Satisfied customers will tend to share their experiences with their peers, raising your brand awareness and netting you more potential customers.
Most importantly, positive customer experience is essential for building trust between your company and your audience. By forging strong bonds with customers, you will acquire allies to support in times of uncertainty and decline.
Why Social Media
There are two main reasons why social media is currently the best channel to create a positive customer experience.
One is a matter of simple facts. According to the most recent data, over 2.77 billion people are using social media in 2019, and this number is projected to reach 3 billion by 2021. If you manage to provide a positive customer experience to even a fraction of these people, your business is almost guaranteed to be successful. Simply put, it is too good of an opportunity to miss.
The second reason has to do with the way people use social media, and the options you have to capitalize on this. In comparison to email, telephone, TV adverts, and other means of interacting with customers, social media offers a more immediate form of communication. People used to talk directly with people they know on social media, and they don’t hesitate to engage with the content they find. This means that customers will be more likely to engage with your business on social media, and you will have an easier time understanding what they want, and how to provide it.
To summarize, social networks are a natural platform for improving customer experience, because they enable you to engage directly with large numbers of people in an informed and controlled manner.
Practical Guidelines for Improving CX on Social Media
We have covered the theory behind CX on social media, and now we will provide some practical advice on how to go about implementing a CX-focused social media strategy.
1. Know How to Respond to (Negative) Feedback
Customers will use social media to voice their opinions about your business, and sometimes these opinions will have a less than positive. This is perfectly normal – even the most beloved companies will have their detractors. Avoiding negative feedback altogether is impossible, but you still get to choose how you respond to it. Some businesses make the mistake of responding in a vitriolic tone, which will earn you nothing but ire from customers. What you should do instead is choose your words carefully. Treat all customer grievances as legitimate by default, thank them for the feedback provided, and try to offer a constructive reply.
2. Implement a CRM System
Creative a positive customer experience is not just about being nice to your customers. It is the process of addressing customer concerns in an orderly, systematic manner. And in order to do this, you will need to use a customer relationship management system. Such a tool will help you aggregate customer data coming from multiple sources (including social media) in one place, so you will always have the information you need to tackle each customer’s needs. Therefore it is vital to use a CRM system for implementing a customer experience strategy in an efficient way.
3. Deploy Customer Service Chatbots
Once you grow your customer base to a certain level (depending on the size of your business), you will have less and less time and resources to attend to each individual customer. This is simply the reality of running a business online. Unfortunately, customers won’t have the patience to wait until you sort things out on your end, and they will walk away unsatisfied. One way to solve this issue is to scale up your customer service operation through messenger chatbots. These automated conversation systems can keep your customer engaged by answering common queries, solving simple problems, and buying your service reps extra time until they can attend to the customer in question.
4. Use Hashtags to Stand Out
Hashtags are a convenient way to listen in on the conversations your customers are having on social media. By following hashtags from your industry niche, you will find out what customers want and expect from businesses similar to your own. This will enable you to capitalize on existing social media trends by publishing content tagged with hashtags your potential customers are likely to be following.
Another way to improve your customer experience through hashtags is by using them to present your business in a positive light. For instance, you can use hashtags to inform your customers that your company supports a cause or that it regularly makes charity donations, which will make them feel proud about being your patron.
You can try to create your own branded hashtags as well, and use them to tag all of your social media content. This will give your customers a direct way to access your content, allowing them to find product and service information more easily. Branded hashtags can also help you generate a positive buzz on social media by giving customers the ability and the incentive to share their experiences with your business online.
Customer Experience as the Key to Success
Social networks are the bazaars of the future. They give customers the opportunity to conduct business with countless vendors, your company included. But first, you will need to catch their attention in some way. Providing a satisfactory customer experience is one of the oldest methods to achieve this goal, and it is the best way to make you stand out among your competitors. Fortunately, improving customer experience is something any business can achieve, provided they acquire all the necessary knowledge. And we hope that we have brought you one step closer to that goal with our guide.