There was a short time when using social media for customer service made you an innovator.
Now, while it’s becoming table-stakes, there’s still an opportunity to leverage social media to take your customer service to a new level.
Warby Parker, the industry disrupting seller of stylish, affordable eyewear, noticed fewer customers were using their 1-800 number and more were turning to Twitter to pose questions. But, Warby Parker found it difficult to answer complicated questions, such as those about prescriptions, given Twitter’s 140 character limit.
Looking for a way to interact with that customer outside the constraints of Twitter, the company’s social media team started shooting videos of themselves answering questions, uploading the videos to YouTube and replying to customer’s tweets with a link to the video.
Something unexpected happened. Warby Parker found that customer service tweets that included a video were retweeted 65 times more frequently than other tweets from the company.
“Customers were so blown away that we are going to these lengths to meet their needs that they tweet about it and tell dozens of other people,” Warby Parker Co-Founder Dave Gilboa said. “That’s been a win-win in thinking about customer service as a marketing channel.”
It’s a great proof point that there are still countless new ways to think about how to leverage social media to help solve problems for customers. Great service is simple – be fast, friendly and helpful. Social media is perfect for that philosophy.
An effective social media strategy for customer service oftentimes turns into dollars. The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer reported that people who have used social media for customer service at least once in the last year are willing to spend 21% more with companies they believe provide great service – in contrast with the general population, which is willing to spend 13% more.
The study also found that more than three in five Americans feel companies have not increased their focus on providing better service, and of this group, 32% feel businesses are paying less attention to providing good customer service.
Adding another service channel may seem daunting for some companies. But, of the 500 employees that are part of Zappos.com’s customer loyalty team – which handles email, phone, live chat and Twitter correspondence – only 5 members handle all of the tweets. Even smaller operations should be able to leverage free social media monitoring tools to easily handle questions and comments pushed into public forums without the need for additional manpower.
In a 45 day study published earlier this year, STELLAService – which evaluates the largest online retailers’ customer service performance on a daily basis – found that just 44% of customer service inquiries posted on Twitter to the top 25 online retailers were responded to within 24 hours. What’s more, six of the 25 retailers didn’t reply to any customer service inquiries over the same period, a service decision that could be costing those retailers millions in lost sales.
The realtime nature of Twitter means that reply time is crucial, particularly when you consider that all comments live in public.
Interestingly, there is significant variance when you look at the average reply times in October by retail category. Mass Merchants were generally the fastest to respond, averaging 1 hour and 57 minutes. Baby Care was next at just under 3 hours, which makes sense given the time-sensitive demands of that customer base. Other categories averaged anywhere from 4 hours to 8 hours, while the Beauty category performed the lowest at 10 hours and 26 minutes.
The average Twitter response time for the Internet Retailer Top 10 was a little over 3 and a half hours in October. Compare that to the 13 hours it took the same group of companies to reply to emails and Twitter comes out looking like a far more efficient service channel for consumers.
The following companies where the top five performers in October for replies to tweets within 12 hours: LLBean.com (100%), Fab.com (91.7%), Gilt.com (88.9%), Zappos.com (85.7%) and Newegg.com (83.3%).
If you’re still trying to get a handle on the best way to manage social media accounts for customer service, here are a few tips:
- Respond quickly. Shoppers that ask a question over Twitter expect a response 100% of the time. Prioritize your response to these shoppers over others who may be making a statement about your brand.
- Provide recommendations. Go the extra mile by recommending items to your shoppers with relevant links.
- Recommend connecting through other channels if necessary. Shoppers like when their issues are elevated. By suggesting to speak over the phone, you can make a customer feel more important.
Again, it’s worth stressing the public nature of social media. Any questions not answered or complaints not addressed may send a message to consumers that you’re not interested in helping. Conversely, a quick reply can make a customer feel special.
Once you have the basics covered, approach social media not as a chore, but a new tool to better serve customers and better represent your brand.
That’s what Warby Parker is doing. And, their customers are raving.
This story was originally published by STELLAService CEO Jordy Leiser on LinkedIn.