Today’s consumer knows the brand they are buying from and the company behind it. While this is true regarding a company’s values, practices, and transparency, it extends even further — conscious consumers expect brands to go above and beyond, delivering exceptional customer service with every interaction.
As a result, one of the best ways a brand can stand out in today’s crowded, fast-paced digital landscape is by making the customer experience a top priority…and that means more than just having a few FAQs on your website.
To effectively elevate your brand and drive loyalty, advocacy, and revenue growth, you must exceed expectations and delight your customers at every touch point. The bare minimum doesn’t cut it.
Read on to discover the four principles of customer care that will help skyrocket your brand to the next level.
Customer Care: 4 Key Principles to Elevate Your Brand
1. Urgency: Respond to and Resolve Issues as Quickly as Possible
Recent research from the 2022 Sprout Social Index™ reveals some startling data: 76% of U.S. consumers who reach out to a brand on social media expect a response within 24 hours — and 13% expect a brand to respond within the first hour of reaching out!
The takeaway for brands is unmistakable: Responding to and resolving issues isn’t enough — the speed at which you do both is also key to success. Resolving an issue same-day, instead of letting it drag on, may make all the difference. In fact, research from Gartner concluded that having their service expectations effortlessly met is one of the most important factors in whether or not customers stick with a brand long-term.
Additionally, with more and more customers relying on social channels to seek support, it’s critical that your social management team has the tools and resources to facilitate a fast social media response time and follow through with effortless resolutions. Setting these expectations internally, so everyone is on the same page is critical (more on this below).
It’s a best practice to meet the customer where they are and, if applicable, respond to them on the platform they reached out on. If someone DMs a brand on Instagram, they want a response there and not have to call for support. In some instances, re-routing the channels is unavoidable, especially when it comes to sensitive information to be moved to private channels, but if you can, meet them where they are.
As a Sprout Social Agency Partner at Sociality Squared, we use Sprout as our tool for social customer care to ensure that every message, regardless of how it comes through – tag, direct message (DM), or comment – is in the One Inbox to be able to quickly prioritize and respond. Sprout Social also has customizable workflows, permissions, and other tools for streamlining an entire social care team’s efforts.
2. Accuracy: Ensure Your Support Team Has the Information They Need
It sounds simple enough: the more knowledge your support team has about your products, services, processes, and policies, the better they can step into a customer’s shoes and understand the issue at hand.
In practice, however, ensuring your support team can provide accurate and effective customer service isn’t something that happens all by itself.
You can set your team and your brand up for success with a little preparation. For example, outline the scope of what your social media can and will handle through social media channels.
You should also establish a response and engagement protocol for handling interactions, both in the form of direct messages and comments on social media posts.
Make sure you consider such questions as:
- What kind of messages will or won’t you respond to?
- How will you address trolls, spam, or users creating discomfort in your community?
- How will you continue to encourage positive engagement?
- When does a comment warrant a full response vs. a simple like or emoji reaction?
- In what instances will you move conversations to direct messaging?
- What is the process to escalate issues that warrant it?
A good customer care plan should contain benchmarks and goals for response rates, time to first respond, reply wait times, and other customer care metrics.
At Sociality Squared, we’re big fans of internal “cheat sheets” with key information for the social care team to reference. These are living docs to empower the team to do their best on the social media front lines.
3. Quality: Adjust to Improve, Anticipate Needs, and Add a Human Touch
When you run a business, there is always room for improvement, including customer service This means continuously seeking feedback, tracking success, and finding ways to get better.
At Sociality Squared, we rely on Sprout Social’s powerful social listening tools to monitor conversations and mentions around our client’s brands, industries, and competitors. Tools such as these are helpful in tracking common issues or complaints, identifying opportunities to anticipate customer care needs, and translating insights into action.
Internal tracking infrastructure is vital in making sure customer support tickets don’t get lost in the shuffle or slip through the cracks. Likewise, quality customer care also hinges on the ability to identify potential crisis situations and quickly escalate towards the most effective resolution.
Flagging a potential crisis is one example where there is no replacement for human judgment — but there are plenty more. AI-driven chatbots can be useful for addressing common FAQs or handling high traffic volume, but ultimately they are no replacement for the human touch. Depending on the nature of the customer issue, they can even be frustratingly impersonal, alienating people from your brand.
Although chatbots can be efficient, it isn’t hard to achieve a similar level of efficiency and consistency by providing your support team with brand voice guidelines and pre-scripted quick replies to common questions. When the uncommon question comes along (as it will!), you’ll be glad there is a person, not a chatbot, representing your brand.
Finally, it won’t always be possible to resolve issues as quickly as a disgruntled customer might like. In moments like those, it’s essential to maintain…
4. Transparency: Be Honest, and Set Expectations
As hard as you may work to prepare for any customer care eventuality, there will always be certain times when you are simply not able to resolve the issue the same day — or, sometimes, from the customer’s perspective, even satisfactorily!
Relaying bad news is an unavoidable part of customer care, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive. After all, statistics show a remarkable 91% of consumers rate honesty as the most crucial criterion for brand communication. It’s clear that how you approach an imperfect situation can genuinely impact how the customer perceives the interaction.
Your support team should set clear expectations when handling time-consuming issues (this connects back to making sure they understand your operations). Most people are reasonable, and they will be willing to wait if you are upfront with them.
Even if the delay is related to a mistake on your side, honesty is the best way to defuse any potential dissatisfaction with your response.
Apply the 4 Social Customer Care Principles of Urgency, Accuracy, Quality, and Transparency
When all four principles of customer care are practiced in every customer interaction, you also generate goodwill, which may help the resolution process and build brand loyalty.
In applying these principles, remember to keep the customer’s needs in mind rather than focusing only on what’s best for your bottom line. A customer who is satisfied, or even delighted, with your brand’s service is always better for your business overall!
To learn how Sociality Squared can help you develop and execute great customer care strategies, click here to get in touch today.