Quick question: Do you take your smartphone into the washroom with you? (Just do a quick search and you’ll find stats that say anywhere from 20%, or 1 in 5, people have done this.)
Today, people take their smartphones with them everywhere, including the washroom. According to a recent Gallup report, 81% of Americans keep theirs with them at all times, and they check it at least once an hour. We use it for everything these days, including customer service.
Many of us turn to social media first when we have an issue with a product, sending tweets or messages on Facebook. When we don’t get a fast enough response, we use the same social media channels to vent our frustration.
Companies that don’t adapt to this new mobile economy often suffer widespread trolling and flaming comments online. All this negativity leads to a damaged online reputation and fewer customers. And since everything online has such a long life, each mistake is still searchable and shareable.
Choose the right channel
However, this doesn’t mean that every brand needs to provide customer service on every channel out there. Brands should understand the channels their customers use and be prepared to engage with them in some way on them. For example, a brand may use their Twitter account as an initial touch point with their customers, and direct them to a more appropriate channel where they can help customers.
Always support the channels your customers use…even if you don’t
After a devastating train derailment, Amtrak was heavily criticized for the way it communicated with the public during the event. “Its social media response was tardy, on-the-ground communication was terse and unhelpful, and the overall tone was not good from an optics point of view,” PRWeek’s editor-in-chief Steve Barrett said.
One of the issues was that Amtrak customers and members of the public were using social media for customer service when it wasn’t officially supporting that channel. Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s Director of Public Relations and Coordinator of Digital and Social Media, explained in an interview with SocialMedia.org that they had to “get on board” (no pun intended!) with social customer service because that’s what people want. Amtrak’s since hired and trained two dozen call center reps to handle inbound social media queries.
Use the right tools
Facebook recently rolled out their new Businesses on Messenger application, in partnership with Zendesk. Facebook Messenger is currently used by over 600 million people globally, so this type of customer service platform makes sense. Businesses on Messenger lets companies provide real-time updates and customer service through a channel used by a lot of their customers.
Other tools used by companies to handle their social customer service interactions include Hootsuite, Conversocial, and Sprout Social.
Be fast with your mobile customer service
Another aspect of customer service that’s changed by this mobile economy is the notion of real-time interactions. Just like they expect email notifications in real-time on their smartphones, people expect a short response time from brands they contact online.
This is why companies need to monitor all of their customer service channels in real-time. Allowing messages to linger even five minutes longer than necessary can have a serious impact to their online reputation. Groove did a good job of this when they discovered an outage with their products through an influx support requests on Twitter. They kept their customers updated via Twitter as they investigated and fixed the issue.
Setting up alerts for brand mentions on social media is a critical activity for any business today.
Publicize your online hours
Not every brand needs to have 24/7 online help, especially if yours isn’t a 24/7 type of business. Anyone in the travel industry probably should have someone online at 3 am, but a hardware store can skip it.
Regardless of your online schedule, it’s important that your customers know when you’re online to answer their messages and when you’re not. Have your channel managers send out “we’re on-/off- line” messages whenever you’re, well, on- or off- line. This sets the expectations for everyone and avoids anyone getting unnecessarily upset.
Check out these examples from Twitter:
- Good Afternoon! In case you didn’t know, we’re here 24/7 to answer all of your tweets.— RogersHelps (@RogersHelps) October 13, 2015
- And that’s me signing off for another night? Ciara will be in at 7 am for your morning commuter queries & I’ll be back in the afternoon ?— Translink Metro (@TranslinkMetro) October 14, 2015
GoDaddy actually puts their schedule in their Twitter bio: “Available 5 am to midnight MST”.
Speak politely to your customers
Because we can access so many communication channels with our mobile devices, we’re more prone to sending the “quick” message. When it comes to brand communications, and especially customer service, you must be sure that you’re speaking the right way with your customers.
All communications must be consistent and use the same language or vocabulary. And above all, be nice! Leave the sarcasm and snark for your personal blog. Customers don’t appreciate jokes when there’s a serious situation, or lengthy explanations when they simply want a yes or no answer.
Well-trained customer service staff will help nip these problems in the bud, and having designated spokespeople will ensure customers only hear the right things from you.
Additional tips for speaking with customers:
- Use the name of the person responding in your interactions. Customers appreciate the human touch when dealing with a brand.
- Banish stock customer service phrases like “It appears something’s gone wrong with…” and “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It sounds like you’re trying to distance yourself from the issue and the interaction, and frankly, just ticks people off.
- Answer questions appropriately. For example, don’t send a link to a warranty page on your site if a person’s simply asking a yes or no question about warranties.
Follow-up is more important than ever
Ask any salesperson, and they’ll tell you it’s easier to upsell an existing customer than to sign on a new one. Research firm Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increased profits by 25-95%.
Long-term success by any company depends on customer retention, and good follow-up with customers after any serious interaction is just good business.
With a solution like HappyFox, which integrates with all of your social media and is available on both Android and iOs for mobile, will take your customer support to the next level and enable your agents to fully engage with customers using mobile devices for support. Schedule your one-on-one live demo today!