Columnist John Donnelly III shares with Digital Swank why brands need to do more than simply respond to Twitter and Facebook posts — and why analyzing and learning from customers’ social posts will give companies a leg up on the competition.
John Donnelly III on September 1, 2015 at 9:38 am
Social media sites, Twitter and Facebook in particular, are increasingly touted as customer service platforms. Whether a consumer encounters a bug while playing a mobile game or an unexpected airline delay, there’s a good chance he’ll take to Twitter to air his grievances.
As a result, many brands are upping their customer service games and dispatching representatives to respond to customers’ cranky tweets or Facebook messages in real time. (In an acknowledgement of this activity, Facebook recently rolled out a feature that lets page admins respond privately to comments.)
This is largely seen as a positive development for customer service (though not always for the brands themselves), and it’s certainly true that brands should respond to complaints and not leave customers hanging. But simply replying to negative posts is no longer enough.
It’s critical for brands that want to rise above their competitors to regularly analyze customers’ social posts and the company responses on a macro level in order to deliver more effective service and generate loyalty — on social media and beyond.
What Are They Complaining About?
Analyzing customer posts over several months will uncover a great deal about your customers’ frustrations. For example, a recent analysis of telecom customers’ tweetsrevealed that AT&T’s audience grumbles most about pricing, while complaints directed at T-Mobile focus primarily on coverage and shipping.
These insights should make their way into product, marketing and strategy meetings, where these teams can then use the customer feedback to drive decision-making.
In AT&T’s case, that could mean offering more promotions, improving trade-in offers or developing partnerships to offer its customers deals on related products.
Not all complaints are created equal. It’s important for brands to understand the demographic profiles behind particular complaints so they can act accordingly.
Take, for instance, home-cleaning startup Handy. A quick look at the replies from @HandyCX shows just how much time the company’s social customer service team spends dealing with frustrated customers.
If Handy could see that a higher percentage of these posts were coming from a specific market, such as Boston, it might consider bringing the regional operations manager in for a chat.
Additionally, insights about gender, age and race can help a brand determine whether it may need to shift messaging for a particular audience or evaluate whether it makes sense to refine a product or service to meet the needs of a specific target demographic.
What Type Of Response Is Effective?
It’s important to analyze not only customer posts, but also your brand’s responses — and the customer reactions to those responses. If there are patterns in the types of complaints customers have, what kind of responses did these customers find most useful in helping them solve the problem?
Are they looking for you to help them troubleshoot, or is it more about getting a service comped? Or perhaps they just want some moral support.
Regardless, analyzing historical conversations can help you plan ahead so you’re ready to address future complaints most effectively.
Tone is big here, too. An analysis of tweets directed at airlines revealed that JetBlue’s human, casual tone is a big affinity driver among its audience, while American Airlines’ more formal approach often rubs customers the wrong way.
To determine what type of communication style is most effective, look both at the type of language your customers use on social media and at the way those customers react to your brand’s existing approach.
What Are Your Social Media Customer Service Hours?
Many companies don’t have the resources to staff a full-fledged social media customer team 24/7. This is another area where social media insights can help, and in a very practical way.
If you know what time the majority of your complaints come in, you can create a staffing plan that aligns with peak hours. Companies can also look at historical social data to identify spikes in complaints throughout the year.
Through this analysis, brands may discover a need to beef up resources during the holiday season or ahead of a new product launch.
The pressure is on. Brands are expected to be available and responsive on social media whenever customer complaints arise.
It’s an era where it’s tempting to sit back and be reactive, treating the influx of posts like pesky items on an ever-growing to-do list. But companies that want to rise above their competitors need to do more than simply respond to posts — they need to learn from them.
About the Author
As senior vice president of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon, John Donnelly III is responsible for all go-to-market operations across marketing, sales and business development. Donnelly brings over 20 years of experience in the technology industry to Crimson, and has managed companies from start-up to over $700M in annual revenues.