Customer care moves faster now than it ever has before. And that’s because customers are dictating the speed. According to Twitter, 60% of users expect brands to respond within an hour. And one study found that 84% of consumers expect brands to reply within 24 hours after contacting them on social media.
Think about it: If you message a friend on social, you don’t expect to hear back next week, right? You expect to hear back that day – probably within that hour.
Brands are held to the same standards.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that brands rewire their customer care strategies for social media. They must have the strategies and resources necessary to not just respond to customers in a timely manner, but also proactively provide social customer care on their favorite channels. Why? Because social is the new frontier of customer care: 80% of consumers use social to engage with brands, and more than half prefer social channels for care over phone or email.
Companies that don’t adapt are going to get left behind.
That’s why we’re outlining five tools you can use to deliver customer care at the speed of social.
1. Messenger Bots
“Bot” used to be a dirty word – conjuring images of AI takeovers and spam-filled websites. But today, messenger bots are some of the most valuable tools that customer care strategists have at their disposal. They allow for instantaneous, automated, and personalized communication on messenger platforms that people already use to interact with friends and family. According to eMarketer, more than a quarter of the world will use mobile messaging apps by 2019. And Facebook Messenger alone has 1.3 billion users.
Whole Foods, for instance, launched a Facebook Messenger chatbot that allows people to find recipes by using emojis. They simply choose a food emoji like a banana or eggplant, and then are fed recipes that include those foods.
“We are living in the ‘expectation economy,’ where consumers expect to have information at their fingertips, and we want to keep innovating to meet our customers where they are,” said Jeff Jenkins, global executive of digital strategy and marketing at Whole Foods Market. “Our goal is to make recipe discovery easy and to help our customers find new ways to experience the foods they love.”
Brands can use platforms like Chatfuel, LivePerson, and ManyChat to build their own messenger bots.
2. Twitter and Instagram Stories Polls
There are over 400 million Instagram Stories users and 335 million Twitter users. And brands can now use fun and interactive polling tools to question and engage those users. They might ask what kind of content followers want to see, which products they’re enjoying most this season, or lifestyle questions about their personal preferences and interests.
Take Tribe Hummus. The food brand used Instagram Stories polls to ask followers their favorite hummus flavor.
Over on Twitter, The TrackR launched a poll asking followers which items they most often misplaced around the house. And Evernote asked users how they kicked off their Mondays.
These tools provide a wide-open opportunity for social care representatives to learn more about their audiences in real time and use those insights to deliver better experiences.
3. Custom Mobile Apps
As of this year, there are over 3 billion smartphone users across the world and $92.1 billion being spent on apps. And those people aren’t just using phones to research and shop online. They’re also pulling them out while shopping in store.
That means brands can use mobile apps to insert themselves into the online and in-person retail experience, leading the customer journey and delivering more effective customer care.
The Home Depot app, for instance, helps customers navigate the aisles, make a shopping list, plan a project, and get help from an online associate. They can even take a picture of an item in-store and be shown similar items. And they can use an augmented reality feature to see how a product would look in their home.
The app adds an entirely new dimension to the product research, consideration, and buying experience — caring for the customer as they progress through every stage of their journey.
4. Social Listening Platforms
It’s hard enough to keep track of the social messages that are sent directly to your brand. But what about all of those conversations that don’t mention you directly? You know, when people mention a product in your industry, talk about leaving a competitor, ask about a feature you can produce, or just misspell your brand name.
You need social listening tools to help you find those crucial conversations.
With the right social listening tool, you can pinpoint and organize those social posts by keywords, brand names, hashtags, phrases, campaigns, trends, and sentiment. And then you can use those insights to deliver more valuable social care across touchpoints.
That’s what Microsoft does. The tech giant built a Social Command Center that uses social listening tools to pull in 150 million conversations each year. After AI filters scan for and discard irrelevant posts, Microsoft is left with about five million, which are each handled personally by the social care team. They’re not just doing damage control with customer issues, either. They’re using comments and suggestions – even those not directed at the company – to inform product improvements and let customers know their voices are heard.
5. Internal Communication Channels
To deliver the best social care, brands need to have a comprehensive view of each customer – including their interactions with marketing materials, sales teams, and call centers. This way, when they speak to a social care representative, that person has all of the information they need to deliver the best help. And this can only be done by breaking down internal silos and creating seamless communication between teams.
That’s why Santander UK – one of the largest banks in the world – ensures that its marketing and customer care departments work closely together to gather insights and develop strategies.
“We have a great relationship with our customer care team,” said Andy Freeman, head of social and digital at Santander UK. “They are responsible for the day-to-day queries that come through on social media, dealing with up to 3,000 inbound messages per week. We’re with them every step of the way.”
As a result, Santander delivers personalized experiences and social care to its 14 million customers at scale.
“We deliver valuable tools to help people understand everything from what it’s like to be a first-time customer, to helpful products and services someone might want, to larger issues around fraud and theft protection,” said Chris Parker, senior social media manager for Santander UK. “We’re using social to reach our customers on the channels of their choice, to engage with them more deeply, and to help our customers more intuitively.”