How retailers can improve social media marketing
When it comes to responsiveness, interest levels, and customer service, there is a wide gap between retailers that are currently using social media such as Facebook 'Fan Pages' to reach out to consumers, according to a white paper by social CRM and marketing software provider Conversocial.
The company's white paper sheds light on the state of social customer service in the retail industry, and explains the numerous obstacles that can prevent brands from providing effective customer care in the increasingly important world of social media.
The paper, entitled 'Who's ignoring their customers: Lessons from the best and worst retailers on Facebook', investigates Econsultancy's list of the UK's top retailers, and examines how well they are managing questions and complaints through their Facebook pages. And, apart from identifying the main obstacles to effective social customer service, the paper examines how some retailers have overcome them and how others have made the situation worse by attempting to ignore their fans.
The company found that there is certainly no fixed standard for customer care via Facebook, with the best retailers managing to regularly respond within an hour, while the worst did not respond at all, showing very little interest in their customers and their feedback.
Consequently, the white paper offers several tips for retailers and brands that are seeking to improve their social customer service strategy. For example:
- Enable your wall for fan communication The study identified a large discrepancy in response rates for comments left on page updates, and those which are posted directly on the page wall. The lesson to be learned here is to enable the wall for fans to communicate there, and avoid the spread of bad press to customers' own news feeds. Keeping the brand's wall closed to consumer comments is simply hiding from complaints, and only serves to exacerbate the problem and drive negative feedback into channels that the brand cannot see.
- Don't be selective: deal with everything The top ten retailers all had problems - to some degree - with selectivity when dealing with customer service issues via Facebook. Picking and choosing which customers get a response does not go unnoticed by the masses, and avoiding the difficult issues (or even those that may not seem as urgent as others) is certain to aggravate the problem. Conversocial recommends that companies should try to respond to every problem raised because neglected fans can quickly fuel a highly visible bad reputation.
- Focus equal resources on social channels Many companies examined seem to face problems with understaffing or limited resources for social media. Social networks should be given at least the same attention and service levels as traditional channels, given their vast potential for public exposure. Marketers must therefore allocate enough time to monitor social pages throughout the day and react to inflammatory posts as quickly as possible. Using customer service workflow software can help prioritise comments that need attention and even filter out those which don't.
The full white paper has been made available for free online viewing through Conversocial's blog - click here.