Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Social Media Customer Service 101

Customer service is a growing concern of mine, especially referring to larger companies who’ve “brilliantly” cut costs by outsourcing their call centers overseas. I know all of you have spent precious hours of your life conversing with “Steve” from Mumbai to solve an issue or make a formal complaint. Unfortunately, the number one reason loyal customers switch brands is a direct result of poor customer service. Whether it’s long wait times, broken English, or no response at all, customers are leaving brands they’ve been with for years because they do not feel like VALUED customers anymore. This will only get worse as statistics show that millennial shoppers have a much lower tolerance for bad customer service. There is also a growing and unavoidable trend of customers hitting the social media newsfeeds to speak of their experience and frustration with people, companies, and brands. Not to mention 76% of customers stop doing business with a brand that they’ve had a bad experience with. (Ovum) 

Amidst the concern is the optimism that brands can remedy these struggles by leveraging the same social networks that are slowly becoming “review centers.” If keeping loyal customers and converting others is your objective there is no better place to gain that trust than on your social media feeds. As social media users grow in numbers reviews regarding your brand are growing the same. 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with social media customer care are likely to recommend the brand to friends and family, compared to a mere 19% that get no response (NM Incite) Right now is the easiest time in the history of retail to connect with your customers, they’re literally at your fingertips 24/7 and the way you engage them on these outlets will likely be the deciding factor as to which loyal customers stay loyal or whether they promiscuously move onto the next best thing. Unbelievably grocers and food manufacturers are not leveraging this opportunity. This is not a supplementary tool that CAN be used, social media customer service and engagement is a tool that MUST be used, because without engagement and fast response time you’re leaving your brand out to dry. In fact, happy customers purchase 40% more with a brand. (Bain & Co) Other’s will see the negativity or feel as if their opinion and commentary mean very little if anything to your business. The demand for company response time is growing as well, a recent study found that 42% of social media users expect a response from a company within 60 minutes of reaching out. (Social Habit) That’s extremely aggressive, but is becoming the status quo, and companies such as Whole Foods are eating this data up having full time “social media customer service reps” watching their social like hawks and developing a strong customer service network. 

I understand that social media is new and the retail grocery industry is old school, filled with industry veterans who’ve done things the same way for many years with a lot of success. But the landscape has changed drastically and your brands are being left out to dry by snarky social media users that want to vent their concerns and bad experiences for the world to see. The fact that you’re unaware of this or unresponsive is unacceptable. If your long term goals are to keep and attract loyal customers for the next 50+ years, you will need to evolve with technology and submit to Generation Y. 

Social media is creating an easy cost effective way to supply good customer service, humanize your brand, build and maintain loyalty and reputation while helping to maximize sales growth. Customer care is 1/6th the cost using social vs conventional phone support. (NM Incite) and 70% of consumers would prefer to use a digital alternative to calling if they knew their issues could be rectified effectively. (Ovum) With all this information at hand retailers and consumer brands alike need to utilize these channels and correct the complacency that’s occurred over the previous years. The future of your business relies on your ability to adapt and be innovative in a constantly changing technological world. Be a leader and take the initiative of making it a priority to excel in social media customer support this year.