News : Social Media Stars Share their Secrets
July 9, 2014 -- It’s official, Australian companies that invest resources and engage with their customers on social media get dramatically better customer feedback than their struggling peers. Having tracked more than 150,000 tweets and Facebook posts, we can reveal some of the secrets to their award-winning social media strategies.
ServiceRage has just announced the winners of their 2014 Happy Customer Awards, which recognise the companies that received the most positive customer feedback on social media over the last financial year. The spread of feedback from company to company is dramatic. The best performer, health.com.au, took out the health insurance category with 68 per cent positive comments while some of the biggest brands in Australian health insurance languished in the mid-teens. In car and home insurance, Budget Direct, out-paced its peers by more than 10 percentage points.
So how do some companies get it so right while others keep missing the mark? We identified five key lessons from the award-winners in banking health insurance, energy and general insurance.
1. Social first
Many successful social brands achieve great feedback by prioritising customers who use the social channel over other customer care channels like the phone or email. We see lots of examples of delighted customers who were frustrated trying to resolve an issue via traditional channels, but subsequently succeeded using social.
Generally these good experiences are not because the social channel is intrinsically better for customer care. It’s because the brand has allocated more customer care resources to the social channel, compared with traditional channels. So an issue that was bogged down in a call centre queue was resolved immediately via Twitter or Facebook. The contrast makes the social media experience even more impressive.
When you consider the public nature of social media and the way both good and bad experiences can bounce around social networks influencing multiple consumers, it makes sense to ensure social media users are happy.
2. Keep it personal
Try to personalise your social media presence so your customers get a sense of the individuals behind your brand. It’s called ‘social media’ because it is a personal medium. With many users committed to sharing all their lives publicly, a single institutional voice can grate. If your social media account is shared across a team try signing-off with first names or initials. It is easier to empathise with an individual than a faceless organisation.
3. Find your voice
You need to participate if you join social media networks. This sounds obvious but there are a number of major Australian brands with Twitter accounts that simply never tweet.
It’s understandable that you might take some time to find your feet with a new medium. But you can’t stay in limbo forever. As soon as you join Twitter, other users can direct tweets to you. At the very least you need to respond to this feedback. And ideally, you should contribute by initiating conversations too.
4. Don’t delete posts
Customer comments can be unreasonable, but resist the temptation to delete negative Facebook posts from your wall. You risk looking like a censor and further infuriating an already unhappy customer. In many cases, the customer will refuse to be silenced and focus their energies on finding other ways to be heard – and the Internet provides plenty of other options.
The best approach is to post a reasoned response and that addresses the underlying issue. Other customers that read the exchange will appreciate your openness and make their own judgement who is reasonable. If you are worried about the exchange getting out of hand, limit yourself to a single response and encourage the complainant to contact you offline to resolve the problem.
5. Have great products and services
The Happy Customer award winners all execute their social communications brilliantly and they have great products and services behind them. In the end social media is just the channel and it cannot compensate for a poor product or slack service. Finessing your social media strategy will ensure you maximise the potential of the channel but in the end, most customers will judge you on your products and services.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014