Have you ever wondered how some brands have all the engagement?
Or why some posts get crazy comments and conversations while yours fall flat?
We know the answer. It’s online customer care.
Smart marketers use customer care to their advantage in all aspects of business and branding. They also use it to increase their conversions and put money in the bank.
Here’s how you can, too.
What Does ‘Online Customer Care’ Mean?
To clarify, here’s what online customer care isn’t:
- It’s not customer service
- It is not customer support
- It can be PART of customer experience (CX)
Carrie and I go through many of the frequently asked questions we get around Customer Care in the video below. Take a gander!
Customer Service & Support
When you offer customers advice or assistance, that’s customer service or support. Think of it as troubleshooting. It’s reactive and it may only represent a one-time transaction with your brand.
Customer Experience (CX)
CX (so hot right now!) measures your customers’ overall feelings about your brand. This includes their emotional, physical, and psychological connection. Think of customer experience as the sum of ALL contact with your brand.
Online Customer Care
Customer Care is essentially how well YOU take care of your customers. How much do YOU care? How far will YOU go to find the right solutions for your customers?
Customer Care is actively listening to your would-be and current customers’ needs. It’s truly proactive (and ongoing). And when we say ‘online customer care’ we’re talking about proactive listening and answering through your website or social media channels.
Finally, wherever you take care of your customers online, that’s ‘online customer care.’
8 Ways Online Customer Care Increases Conversions
Here’s how you can use online customer care to increase conversions.
- Improve customer expectations
- Promote & reward customer loyalty
- Focus on customer experience
- Utilize social listening & data
- Use personalized content
- Reply to every mention, and fast!
- Respond to EVERY customer complaint
- Offer self-service options
Let’s unpack each of these areas in more detail.
1) Improve Customer Expectations
80% of brands think they offer superior customer experience, while only 8% of their consumers agree with this.
Above all, when it comes to improving customer expectations, response time is key. Oftentimes, customers turn to social after having trouble getting through on other channels. As a result, they are often agitated. Being responsive can turn their experience around immediately.
As we develop social-first customer care strategies for our partners, it can take time to figure out customer expectations. One of our clients, a global appliance brand, first came to us expecting a response time of under 30 minutes. After a few months, we were averaging just 10 minutes.
While customers were thrilled at first, they would become frustrated when they would not hear from the internal customer service team for hours or days. As our social media team was getting faster and faster with our replies, the internal team was unable to keep up with both their workload and the additional messages coming in through social media.
Turns out, we had set the customer expectation too high. The customer expected social media to match internal customer service responses. Luckily, we were able to work to find a sweet spot.
Once we settled on around 30 minutes for a response, things improved. The internal customer service team worked on creating a process that would allow them to address escalated social issues in a more timely manner, too.
It’s hard to find a better outcome than a positive review!
2) Promoting Customer Loyalty With Online Customer Care
First, you need to think of customer care as a key driver of customer loyalty.
Consumers are being faced with infinite possibilities. Their expectations are rising. Therefore, it’s imperative for you to keep up with those expectations in a way that provides a different, better experience.
You can draw a line between excellent customer service and brand loyalty. Brands that cater to customer expectations are rewarded with higher rates of customer retention and loyalty. Nordstrom, anyone?!
According to the 2016 Bond Loyalty report, 73% of loyalty program members recommend their favorite brand to others.
The takeaway? Treat your customers well with things like
Ultimately, your undivided attention and responsiveness will help you build a loyal, lucrative community of customers.
[EXAMPLE] Promoting Customer Loyalty With Brother International
During the uncertain and stressful times of a global pandemic, Brother USA implemented some much-needed cheer for their loyal customers.
It began with free sewing and crafting tutorials hosted on the Brother Facebook pages. Influencers and Brand Ambassadors of Brother provided fun banter mixed in with instructional projects that ranged from repurposing placemats into bags to creating face masks for everyday use during the COVID-19 outbreak.
They also provided their most popular influencer (and regular host of the Facebook Live events) with ten highly coveted sewing machines to give away. In a time where sewing machines were hard to find due to demand, Brother put many aside for their faithful customers (this was in addition to the hundreds of machines they donated to both small and large groups that were manufacturing masks and in need of high-quality machines).
Brother also increased its UGC (user-generated content). Users who tagged Brother were asked if the brand could share their projects on the Instagram account. As a large corporation, rewarding customers by promoting their work does not go unnoticed and user excitement built around having their projects shared with tens of thousands of followers.
How has this helped Brother? It has increased its social presence tremendously. One Facebook Live event garnered over 1.5K comments alone during the live show!
[EXAMPLE] Promoting Customer Loyalty With NCTE
Another example of a B Squared Media client rewarding loyal customers is NCTE (the National Council of Teachers of English).
NCTE is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. Each year, NCTE hosts a convention where their members attend in droves to participate in panels, listen to inspiration discussions, and reconnect with educations from across the country. One of the perks at this convention are the free books that many will leave with.
During COVID-19, NCTE did a few things to reward its members. As part of their #BuildYourStack movement, they gave away a book-a-day to members who shared their favorite book and tagged NCTE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In addition to the giveaway, they also hosted ‘Member Gatherings’ Zoom event, featuring well-known authors in the NCTE community. This was free to all members who wished to participate.
By rewarding their members with more than a free book, they’ve focused on building a sense of community in trying times for educators.
3) Focusing On CX with Online Customer Care
Above, we posted a video on customer care and why many people confuse customer experience (CX) with customer care.
Customer experience is a mindset. It’s also a difficult topic to tackle.
Mathew Sweezey, Futurist at Salesforce, has a new book about the importance of context when it comes to CX.
He says, in part, that creating customer experiences means understanding the five context elements of context:
- Availability (see #s 1, 6, and 7 in this post)
- Always get permission to market
- Make it personal (see #5 in this post)
- Be authentic
- Have a purpose (see #s 2, 3, and 4 in this post)
His book poses the following question (and answer):
Question: In a transformed world where customers shape their own experience, what is the key to breaking through and motivating them to buy?
Answer: It is context–the close linkage between an individual’s immediate desires and the experiences a brand creates to fulfill them.”
To sum up, we can’t define customer experience in one part of one blog post. It’s something that must encompass every fiber of every being at your brand.
4) Utilize Social Listening & Data
You need to look for ways to put the customer first with all aspects of your business. And one of the BIGGEST ways we do that is with social listening & tagging. Listening is a strategy that is too often overlooked.
For example, we use Sprout Social as our social listening tool. We also use a feature in the tool called tagging. Tagging helps us to report back on what we are seeing on the account beyond pure sentiment.
We don’t just tag sentiment as positive, negative, or neutral (however those ARE used with every incoming message), we also add a context to a post or conversation.
While working on a temporary project (that, due to an NDA we are unable to name) we were able to report back weekly on the number of incoming requests for silver jewelry. As that number grew, we were able to create a rule in Sprout Social that automatically tagged requests for “silver jewelry”.
As a result, this informed our content strategy and we began to share more posts on Instagram that featured existing silver jewelry products. Overall, using this tactic we saw a reduction in requests for new silver jewelry and an uptick in sales on current silver inventory.
With the social listening layer added in, we are able to pull keywords into a report encompassing trends, conversation, demographics, consumer language and preferences, and overall sentiment.
5) Personalized Content
First, some low-hanging fruit. Always use “you” or a name. Simple, right?
Adding a personal touch is the key to building great customer service relationships. Your personalized response to each customer shows that you care for them individually; it has the ability to build trust and brand loyalty.
There are so many generalized, impersonal messages that the simple use of a name shows the customer that you are specifically talking to them and not copy and pasting from a script.
We also like to address the specific post and its contents. This shows the customer that you care about what they are posting and appreciate the recognition.
Brother International customers love tagging the company in photos of their sewing projects. Our team interacts with almost every post. We go further than a “like” on all user-generated content, and make sure to leave a comment using the customer’s name as well as mention something about the project.
It usually looks something like this: “Hey Jordan! We love the floral print you used on that dress. Great work!” Or “Congratulations on your first sewing machine. It looks right at home with all the crafting supplies in your studio!”
If the customer is issuing a complaint, we make sure that their specific issue is addressed in our response. This shows that we understand their specific complaint and that we are taking steps to effectively address their issue.
6) Thinking Conversation With Online Customer Care
According to the latest Sprout Social Index, 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in 24 hours.
Unfortunately, that means if you have any sort of social media presence, you’ll need to respond inside that kind of time frame. Especially if the mention is a customer complaint.
When a mention goes ignored, it’s a missed opportunity for engagement. No one wants to feel dismissed, especially not your loyal customers.
A perfect example of ‘leave no mention behind’, involves a high-end appliance company. With this particular client, the B Squared Media team keeps response times under 30 minutes and acknowledges all mentions, shares, comments, complaints, and questions.
For instance, B Squared Media was monitoring the account when the brand was tagged in an Instagram story. A customer shared a funny boomerang of themselves while on hold with Customer Service. B Squared Media saw this mention and acted on it immediately. While this customer was not outright complaining about the company, our team reached out via Instagram direct message and offered assistance.
The customer was incredibly appreciative of the outreach. And, it turns out, happened to have hundreds of thousands of followers. The customer then went an extra step out of appreciation and posted another Instagram story praising both the client and our social media team.
The not-so-secret to B Squared Media’s success remains simple: communication and responsiveness!
7) Address EVERY Customer Complaint
Sadly, social media has become a place where people go to so they can shout their problems from the virtual rooftops.
Every business will have different criteria of where mentions and complaints fall, but they generally fit into one of three categories.
Our Example: Triage
We evaluate every complaint that comes in and assign it a color. We also build each client a custom conversational workflow, sorting out where mentions should go, in real-time.
A “Green Level” is something like, “Where is your nearest ATM?” Because our team is well prepared, we know exactly how to structure these responses and can address them right away.
Oftentimes, we will be met with questions, comments, or complaints that aren’t as easy to address. We call these the “Yellow Level”. With Yellows, we will reach out to the appropriate contact on the brand side for assistance. Once we get an approved response, we add it to our FAQ doc to turn future questions of the same sort into a “Green.”
Lastly, we come to Red. With “Red Level” responses, we discuss things internally with the client before we proceed any further. These usually need to be addressed offline and by someone internally.
Once the issue is resolved, the internal team will toss it back to us so we can close the loop on social. This is especially important, so anyone watching these posts or conversation threads are aware that the original poster’s issue has been addressed.
8) Offer Self-Service Options
Above all, even if you have a team of super-smart humans to handle your customer care, you’re not likely “on” 24/7. This is where chatbots come in.
If it’s after hours, a bot can answer your frequently asked questions with 100% accuracy. If someone isn’t quite ready to chat with a person about their needs, a bot could be the perfect delivery system for the information they need.
Furthermore, when it comes to customer service chatbots, the number one goal you should be trying to provide for your users is convenience.
There are MANY ways you can approach this, including …
- Answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Scheduling sales or other appointments
- The ability to update billing or payment info
- For financial brands: checking balances
- Travel brands: Changing or checking flight info
Truth be told, you can’t just ‘set it and forget it’ with AI. That’s why we believe bots should only enhance your human team.
For example, there are a few ways to ensure you’re not letting self-service AI interfere with remaining customer-centric.
- Right away, let the user know they’re interacting with a bot (transparency)
- Give your bot brand personality
- Set up “trigger words” that will alert a team member that human help is needed ASAP
- Build a conversational flow that mimics natural conversation
Finally, not all situations call for a chatbot. For more on what it takes, read our post on customer-service chatbots.
Why Online Customer Care is
In short, customer care entails a LOT of things to capture conversions. However, having more customers on your side is a good thing. It’s a VERY good thing.
Most importantly, having a customer-centric organization translates directly to improved customer experience which in turn leads to more customer loyalty. And having an army of loyal customers can certainly help you with obtaining more conversions. EVERYBODY WINS!
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