Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows one big truth when it comes to customer retention: the customer is always right. However, that doesn’t mean every customer deserves to be given whatever he or she asks for. If a customer takes the time to start a conversation — whether it be about an issue, something they love, or some question they have about the company — he or she deserves a legitimate and thorough response. That’s how brands show customers love, and not doing so can go a long way towards tanking a brand’s reputation. These eight brands all took unfortunate social media missteps, but what are some steps brands can take to show customers love before it ever gets to those extremes? Here are four ideas for how brands can show their customers love every day.
One of the best and easiest ways to show customers love is to respond when they reach out. If a customer cares enough to comment or message on social media, he or she is looking for a conversation. According to Pure Chat, 83% of (customers) surveyed said they liked — or even loved — when a company responded to them on social media. Responses build relationships, and good relationships are better for the bottom line. When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand, and 76% will buy from them over a competitor. In short, community moderation allows your brand to be a part of the conversation, control the narrative, and shift sentiment by responding in real time.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? We’re not saying give away the bank, but when brands offer promotions, customers engage in a big way. Falcon.io says that contests are a powerful engagement tool on Instagram, generating 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments than regular posts. Promotions and contests are a chance for your customers to feel like they’re being paid back for their devotion. And, because of the increased engagement, even those who don’t win will feel valued through bonding with their fellow community members and moderation.
Customers’ issues don’t always conveniently arise between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. So, if your customer service is only available during those hours, that’s 16 hours a day left open for your customers to stew over any potential problems. One of the easiest solutions is to deploy a chatbot to fill the gaps. Chatbot sophistication ranges from answering the most basic “yes” and “no” questions, to AI chatbots that can learn from customer responses.
Another important part of being available is to make sure customers know where you can be reached if their problems need solving offline. Email and phone support are essential, but it’s important to note that many customers enjoy the speed and conversational nature of live chat over other forms of customer service. Since the goal is to show these customers love, being proactive in making all contact resources easily accessible goes a long way toward keeping everyone happy and coming back for more.
Go Above and Beyond
Most people have heard the phrase, “Reach out and touch someone.” But it’s more than a phrase. AT&T used it as its marketing slogan in the 1980s, and it was so popular that it became a colloquialism. Customers gravitate toward brands that show a human approach. No, a brand can’t actually act human, but by showing human effort through our actions in social care, we have the opportunity to reach back to customers who may just need that one nice comment to make their days a little better. We have that power.
Sometimes it takes a little more than that, however. Going above and beyond will not only garner brand love from that specific customer, but also from anyone who hears the story. Consider when a little boy accidentally left his beloved stuffed giraffe, “Joshie,” at the Ritz-Carlton while his family was on vacation. The company could have put the animal in lost and found, but instead took to social media to let the family know Joshie was still enjoying his vacation and would be returned when they were ready. They followed this by a series of pictures of Joshie enjoying that vacation: getting a massage, driving a golf cart, making new friends, and lounging by the pool. The post went viral and was eventually picked up by Huffington Post, gained love from hundreds of thousands, spurred a series of children’s books, and resulted in Joshie eventually arriving home from his vacation.
Brands can’t be people, and as hard as we try to humanize the online experience there will always be a disconnect between the user on one side of the monitor and the brand on the other. But by making the effort to bridge that gap, community managers have the opportunity to show brand love to customers and brand visitors in ways that can exceed expectations. Kristin Smaby may have said it best in Being Human is Good Business: “In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.”
Looking for ways to up your brand’s digital customer service? Contact Social Factor today.