Digital Marketing Book, Social Media

In 2020, Social Media Management is a Customer Service function for Retailers

Social Media is Customer Service

Customer service happens online. Is it so shocking? Everything else happens online. When you think of social media I want you to think of customer service. Customer service is potentially the most important aspect of social media management.

Social Media Customer Service Jobs

Type “Social Media Customer Service Jobs” into Google. You will be amazed at the growth of this area of social marketing. 

If you’re a long-time business owner you may not consider social media a customer service platform. When many store owners think of customer service they think of telephone calls. Customer service conjures images of in-person interactions at the cash register. Yet, I challenge you to think about the next generation of customers. Four in five millennials would use social media to interact with a business’s customer service. Furthermore, 52% of Millenials have used social media to ask customer service questions.

Customer service interactions on Twitter keep increasing. Between 2016 and 2017 these interactions increased 250%

For businesses, social media can be a double-edged sword. There is not an in-between option. Good customer service on social media helps grow relationships with customers. Bad social media customer service risks losing customers forever.

Studies show that answering a customer service complaint on social media increases customer advocacy by 25%. Customer advocates are enthusiastic customers who spread positive word of mouth about your business. Compare that with 30% of people who report that they will go to a competitor if a brand doesn’t respond on social media. 

Retailers need to start thinking of social media as an extension of customer service functions

Independent retailers don’t think of social media as a customer service outlet and it’s hurting them. To put it in context, Millenials think of social media as an extension of your business. A business without social media is a little bit like a business without a phone.

Can you imagine if every time you received a phone call with a customer service complaint you told your employees to hang up on the person? Or if you ignored the customer and gave them the silent treatment?

Ignoring customer service questions on social media is the same thing! As retailers, it is important to get over the mental hurdle. Your customers consider social platforms an important part of your business. That’s reason enough to get on board.

I’ve got bad news, if you’re not doing this already then you’re behind Amazon. Don’t take it from me, take it from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. 

Amazon’s Customer Service

“It used to be that if you made a customer happy, they would tell five friends. Now, with the megaphone of the internet, whether online customer reviews or social media, they can tell 5,000 friends.” –Jeff Bezos

Amazon gets it. Check out this link –

That is the Twitter handle titled Amazon Help. It is a Twitter account for providing customer service to Amazon customers. 

Amazon’s customers are your customers. You share them. Amazon is spoiling your customers into expecting good customer service on social media. 

Start now – providing customer service on social media is a must

If you’re not responding to customers on social media right now. Get a plan together. Missing the boat on social media is this generation’s equivalent of not answering your phone during business hours. 

Luckily for you, it’s not rocket science and you don’t need to set up a specific Twitter handle for customer service. There are two platforms you need to use to provide social customer service. Facebook and Twitter. 

More good news, both have good apps for your phone. You can set up both apps to notify you when a customer writes something to your business on social media. The process is as simple as pulling out your phone and responding. That is the easy part. 

How to respond to upset customers on social media – a rule of thumb

The hard part is knowing what to say or how to say it. That comes back to customer service for retail, which is a little bit outside of the scope of this book. 

For quick reference, use this rule of thumb when judging your response on social media. Ask yourself, “How would I respond to this customer if they were right here in my store with 10 other customers watching?” If your responses measure up to that yardstick, then you’re in a safe area. 

But, if the answer is no, then think again. Remember that hundreds of customers will see your response. The other people who see the response will not have the same context for the situation as you do. Respond carefully. 

The takeaway for independent retailers

There are some great books about providing customer service on social media. Your trade associations and vendor partners will have some great materials as well. It will take time to get the hang of providing customer service on social media but it will be worth it. 

Remember, ignoring customers on social media is like shutting off your telephone.

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