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Social media is the new customer service

- Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

As a marketing agency that offers social media implementation services, Happy Medium hears from clients and potential clients about what scares them about social. “We don’t want our customers to have access to us 24 hours a day,” “If we get a complaint, we want to deal with it privately, not give the complainer a megaphone,” or “We can’t give our customers a public forum for voicing their frustrations.”

We understand the sentiment, but we think their perspective is backwards. If a client could affordably run an ad to their customers for 24 hours a day, they’d want to do it, right? If the good things you do as a company had the potential to be shouted out on a megaphone, you’d go for that, wouldn’t you? That’s what social media is; it’s a place to make negatives a positive. It’s all about customer service.

The fact is, customers will sometimes get disappointed in the goods or services they purchase. This hasn’t changed since the dawn of social media, but too many brands think of social only as a place to give company information and share aspects of their culture. It’s a wonderful tool for that, but it’s even more effective as a customer service aid. It’s no different from an over-the-phone or in-person customer service experience.

If a customer came into your storefront or business and openly complained, you wouldn’t ignore that person. It works the same way on Facebook and other social media platforms. More than half of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes of reaching out to a company on social media (and they expect the same regardless of whether it’s after business hours or a weekend) but the average response time on Facebook for the Top 100 retailers in the United States is 24 hours. Thirty minutes goes by really fast and, depending on the complaint and a company’s compliance, standards and practices, etc., it can be difficult to respond that quickly. Nearly every company can respond quicker than an entire day, though. Would you let the phone ring that long?

It may be scary to think that a customer can air his or her dirty laundry about your company at any time for all of the world to see, but you have to remember that the entire world can see your response too. If you are timely and polite, even if your response directs the customer to a phone number or email address, the rest of the world can see you cared and did the right thing.

Only 36 percent of consumers think that their service requests on social media are being resolved quickly and effectively, but 71 percent of people who have received that effective response will recommend your brand to others. So here’s something that the majority of your competitors aren’t doing well but that turns consumers into advocates who will spend, on average, 20 percent to 40 percent more with companies that engage and respond to them on social media. A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by 125 percent, and all you have to do is treat your customers online like they were on the phone or in your store or business. Are you losing customers on social media? It’s time to respond.

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @klstocking

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