Social Customer Expectations

by Jeannie Walters

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The post was written for and originally appeared in Social Media Club’s Clubhouse blog.

In a study from this year, Gartner predicts not responding to customers via social channels will be as harmful in 2014 as not answering the phone is today. The reason? Customers simply expect it.

Customers have long complained about the lack of attention via certain channels when dealing withcompanies. Ever stand in line at a store while they answer the phone and have a lengthy conversation? That’s the feeling customers get when they try to reach a brand via social media and are ignored.

As companies begin to build their social media teams, it’s important to understand just what customers expect from these social channels. A recent SmartPulse poll uncovered it’s important to not only consider WHAT the customer is trying to say, but how they’re saying it.

  • If customers are reaching out via the brand’s owned channels, such as a Facebook page or mentioning the brand’s Twitter name in a comment, it’s likely they are looking for a response. Companies should pay attention and respond personally, and in the same fashion as the original outreach.
  • If customers are simply conversing ABOUT the brand, it may or may not be appropriate for the brand to engage. For example, a friend of mine posted how poor her mobile phone service was in the area on Twitter. This was a response to another post from a friend. The offending brand jumped in to basically say the social response team can’t improve actual service. Um, what? Responding to any mention without reason or invitation won’t work.
  • If customers are complaining about a particular part of the experience, it’s great if the conversation can be addressed and then taken offline to resolve.
  • The classic “not my department” line is not going to cut it. Customers have the reasonable expectation that the person responding via social channels has access to the right people to get things done.
  • It’s ok to thank customers for praise, too. Nothing bugs people more than being ignored when they are going out of their way to be nice.

As customer expectations increase, companies can and should respond accordingly. If you are ignoring customers via the social channels, you might as well unplug your phone, lock the door, and close up shop.

Photo credit: dolescum via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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