A lot of the attention surrounding the provision of customer service via social media tends to focus on B2C brands: How can I resolve shipping issues? Can I book tickets online? Et cetera. However, B2B customers are people too. Despite a longer and more complex lead-to-sale time, they also expect a strong customer service infrastructure from B2B brands.
So going back to the original question—Is social media customer service relevant for B2B brands?—the answer is yes, very much. And here are two reasons why B2B brands need to invest in social customer service now, as well as some advice for how to do it right.
1. Positive Customer Service Equals Positive Word of Mouth
In 2012, American Express reported that 47 percent of customers share information about their service experience with a wider audience; 48 percent will praise a company for providing great service; and 46 percent will vent their frustrations about poor service.
These numbers are too big to ignore, especially for B2B brands that rely on a low customer acquisition cost and churn rate—two things that are directly correlated to positive referrals. Customers do talk about your brand online; make sure you’re there to answer the call.
What can I do?
- Be proactive. If you’re aware of an issue that affects your customers, don’t wait for the complaints to start gaining traction. Use Facebook or Twitter to announce that you know about the problem and are addressing it as quickly as possible.
- Show some personality. One of the main benefits of social media is the ability to communicate with customers in a more personal manner. Show a disgruntled customer that there’s a human behind the account by using personalized language and even some humor. No one likes talking with a robot—and especially not when they’re dealing with frustrating problems.
2. Customers Expect Customer Service Via Social Media
According to The Social Habit, 32 percent of customers who contact a company’s customer support department through social media channels expect a response within 30 minutes; 42 percent expect a response within 60 minutes.
If this expectation seems unreasonable, then you’re missing the point of effective social media marketing. It’s not just about the products your brand sells, but how effectively you can show value to potential leads. A strong lead-nurturing process more or less requires a customer support infrastructure.
What can I do?
- Set up a Twitter handle specifically for customer concerns. Creating an entirely separate customer service account may seem unnecessary, but it’ll save you a huge amount of time in the long run. And with all of the Tweets coming in to your main Twitter feed, it’s easy to overlook potential issues or complaints. Maintaining a separate account ensures that your social customer service strategy is tidy and organized.
- Always be listening. Again from The Social Habit: “Among those respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.” While you’d like to believe that your customers are dormant at night and on the weekends, the business world never sleeps. Of course, offering 24/7 customer service support doesn’t make sense for smaller B2B companies, but you should still monitor what’s being said about your brand and respond to any issues before the Tweets hit the fan. There are a number of social media monitoring tools that can help keep you organized and efficient.
The social landscape is evolving in tandem with your ability to serve customers across multiple channels. Social media is no longer a clever marketing gimmick; it’s a necessary component of any brand’s customer service strategy—including B2B.
How are you using social media for customer service?
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