Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Art of Making Customers Happy on Social Media (Part 1)

If you sell something online or if you run a business with an online presence—even if you’re just having a good time growing your personal brand—you’ll have the honor and the privilege of chatting directly with customers. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week.

This always-on mentality is an amazing privilege, and at the same time it can provide some challenges for small businesses. How can you best respond when conversations are happening constantly? And what if they’re not all positive?

How do you manage to make customers happy on social media?
I discovered a few tips that might help out here, some strategies and insights that are backed by a fair bit of research. There’s an art to making customers happy on social media, and the good news: There’s also a recipe.
Here’s what’s involved.

customer happiness

The 5-part recipe for making customers happy on social media

These are the five parts I’ve encountered in my research on customer happiness. It’s interesting to note also that the order here is somewhat important: Listen before you respond, for instance.
1. Listen carefully
2. Respond quickly
3. Make a connection
4. Be specific
5. Say their name

make customers happy social media

1. Listen carefully

You focus on listening rather than responding

Among the 10 Buffer values, seldom is there crossover between the specific phrasing of a value and the naming of a social media marketing strategy. We’re grateful for the overlap with listening.
Social listening is the process of finding the meaningful conversations and insights from all your mentions on social media.

In particular, these elements from our Buffer value seem to really resonate when it comes to successful social listening.
You seek first to understand, then to be understood
You focus on listening rather than responding
buffer culture values listen

I really love the way that Lolly Daskall outlines the importance of listening as it relates to business and leadership. I think her description rings true for social media as well.
We listen to learn.
We listen to stay informed.
We listen to understand.
We listen to gain information.
We listen to acquire knowledge.
We listen to obtain wisdom.
Listening carefully comes in a couple of phases:
  1. Finding the conversations
  2. Pausing to listen to what’s being said
In terms of finding the conversations, there was some really neat research done by Mention, who analyzed over one billion brand mentions tracked through their tool.
They found that 92 percent of people talking to brands have fewer than 500 followers. So you should listen for more than just big influencers.
They also saw that 30 percent of tweets containing company names don’t use the company’s twitter handle. So you should listen for multiple keywords and variations beyond just your username.

Mention company names on Twitter


What this might look like in practice

There are a number of useful tools you can put together into a social listening dashboard.
Mention is one of our favorites, as it’s able to track just about any variation of you or your brand name, as well as keywords, phrases, and hashtags. One cool tip is to sync up Mention with Feedly to build a listening dashboard, alongside your RSS consumption.

Additionally, you can dive quite deep into Twitter using Twitter’s built-in Advanced Search. You can drill down into specific accounts or hashtags or keywords, including going way back into the archives if needed.

What happens if you don’t

When conversations happen about your brand on social media, you have the chance to get involved and make a positive impression on those talking about you.
If you miss those opportunities, you miss the chance to make an impression. You miss the chance to provide answers or solutions or to steer the conversation in a meaningful direction.
And to go a step further, people might not think you listen or care. Brands that never respond not only fail to make a positive impression, they can sometimes make a poor one with their silence.

2. Respond quickly

Customers expect a response on Twitter within 60 minutes

Twitter is perhaps the most real-time of the major social networks, with the half-life ot tweets measured in minutes.
Consumers expect this rapidity to extend to their conversations with you, too.
Research by Lithium Technologies found that 53 percent of users who tweet at a brand expect a response within the hour. The percentage increases to 72 percent for those with a complaint.


If you can pull of this quick feat (tips on this are below), you’ll go a long ways toward setting yourself apart. Few companies are able to answer so speedily.
study done by Simply Measured found that nearly all brands—99% of them—are on Twitter and 30% have a dedicated customer service handle. Still, the average response time was 5.1 hours with only 1 out of 10 companies answering within an hour.

What this might look like in practice

Monitoring and listening with the tools mentioned above will be a great start for replying fast.
Additionally, tools like Must Be Present can help you track your response time on Twitter, or you can invest in software like Spark Central to stay on top of your customer support tweets.
If you’ve got a big team of support heroes, then a third-party tool like Spark Central is a great route to go.

If it’s just you, then you might look into the notification settings for your social network. For instance, with Twitter, you can sign up for Twitter email alerts and customize them so that you only receive the messages that you’d like—for instance, @-replies or new follows.

What happens if you don’t

Mark Granovetter in the American Journal of Sociology presented his social network theory that visualizes people as nodes. Those who are connected through a relationship are a single link away, while distant relationships are only a few links away.

Granovetter’s theory came out in 1973, well before the advent of social media (or the modern Internet, even), yet it still applies directly to the power of networking on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest. As a follow-up to Granovetter’s theory, a trio of UK researchers observed that most people are no more than six links away from any other person.

Put another way, word of a poor Twitter experience can spread far and fast. 
Jeremy Waite found that a tweet can spread from one person to 2.7 million within four generations—which is great for the amazing content you produce and share, and good to keep in mind for the conversations you have as well.

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