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How to Cultivate Customer Loyalty with Social Media

Duo on May 13, 2014

Social media accounts come with a host of benefits.They connect people and businesses, allow for social sharing and provide the opportunity to reach new customers. 

But the most important benefit of corporate social media accounts is the opportunity to cultivate customer loyalty.

Let's look at some examples:

This is one a lot of us are familiar with. Airlines are constantly being bombarded with customer complaints and inquiries via social media. Here, Timothy reached out to American Airlines with a grievance. 



Joe decided, on his own, to reach out to Feedbands with an issue it informed him of via email. Joe’s tweet gave Feedbands reassurance that its message was heard and allowed the company to share with others by means of a retweet.

 

So how can other businesses create an environment in which their customers are willing to give them same feedback? More importantly, why should businesses even care about this type of interaction?

Let’s start with the latter.

More often than not, people tend to use social media to vent their frustrations with a particular product or service. It’s understandable, but as a business it’s easy to ignore this type of social interaction because people tend to be irrational when they get upset about something. Still, those interactions should absolutely not be ignored. 

According to Provide Support, 70% of those helped via social media customer service return as customers in the future. Rather than ignoring someone’s frustration, embrace it and work to correct the issue to the best of your ability. Working to delight the customer is a key step in establishing customer loyalty. Do it effectively and customers will be much more willing to forgive the occasional mix-up, or worse, a major business crisis.

The very first step to providing outstanding social media customer service is to be active on social media. Use each social network appropriately to best relate to the people on that network. Here’s a breakdown how to use the Big 4:

Twitter

Twitter is ideal for this type of interaction because it is brief and immediate. Tweets have a half-life of three hours, so there is a benchmark that allows the customer to determine if a response is coming.

Facebook

It’s the place to go for companies to humanize their brands, so it also works well with this type of customer outreach. As an added bonus, it allows for others to comment, like or otherwise back up what one person might say to the company. Rarely is a customer issue unique to that one person.

Google+

Depending on how active the company is on the social network, Google+ can be a business’ best friend. This social network is more than just a platform to interact, it is Google. Plus-1’s are similar to Facebook “Like’s” except they appear in Google searches, increasing the likelihood that customers will see the social interaction.

LinkedIn

This site is not recommended for this type of customer outreach. LinkedIn is not optimized for conversation between two or more parties because it is mostly a sharing and informational website, not a feedback site.

It’s important here to note that catering your business’ interaction to each social media platform and using the proper jargon means nothing if responses are not timely. Monitor social networks as often as possible so responses don’t have a long wait time before being seen. About 43% of customers expect a response via social media within the same day or sooner, so don’t keep them waiting.

From a customer’s standpoint, longer wait times may indicate that no response is coming at all. At the very least, reply immediately to inform the customer that the issue is being checked out and a solution is coming soon to sooth some of that “waiting room” stress. 

The customer knows a response is coming and has already interacted on their social platform of choice: what can you offer them? Depending on the industry, a free product or service might be the ideal solution (especially if that product or service spectacularly failed to meet expectations). 

It is unacceptable to let customer outreach go unanswered. Failure to respond gives the impression that the company does not care enough to acknowledge the problem and can only result in negative feelings from the customer.

Failure to find an effective solution does not necessarily remove the opportunity to create a loyal customer. Sometimes, there is no solution to a customer problem. Respond anyway and work toward satisfying the customer in some way.

Effectively responding to negative situations is just as important as providing everyday, outstanding service. When that expectation is not met, the need to make it right greatly increases. If done correctly, customer loyalty will go through the roof and customers will be eager to share your business with others.