Customer Service Via Social Media

Successful customer retention and acquisition strategies are more important than ever. The problem is that traditional methods don’t work anymore.

Social collaboration and communications are evolving rapidly, and significant changes are being made in the way consumers and companies engage. At this point, social media sites are indispensable to defining an innovative customer support organization and creating the sustaining processes that strengthen and build relationships to drive revenue and keep customers coming back.

Rosetta Stone first integrated support operations with Facebook for our more than 400,000 fans so they can get the answers they need. We used an integrated social CRM solution from cloud-based provider Parature to enable our customers to search a knowledge base, submit tickets and chat live with a representative. After the interaction is over, our customers can share the positive experience with their Facebook friends. Direct customer engagement through Facebook not only promotes the Rosetta Stone brand, but keeps our customers engaged and satisfied while generating additional sales.

So, what about your company? How can you provide a profitable and efficient integrated support strategy that spans multiple communication channels? It’s easier than you think, and social media is a huge piece of the puzzle. Here are some strategies:

Spread your support around. Social media isn’t only Facebook and Twitter. There are many channels you can use, but if you are going to engage in conversations with customers, you need to be active on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and other social platforms. Those interactions should not just consist of posting wall responses, but should provide real support through social network mechanisms such as live chat and ticket submission. Every channel of customer support should be accessible from every social media site and in everything that’s Web-based, from products to games. This interaction is key, as these sites are accessed by customers multiple times a day.

Social media is the new comment card. Social customer service is replacing the traditional comment card: Customers can express honest opinions about what they like and don’t like. Businesses need to take these comments seriously, especially because of the viral nature of social media sites.

Social media also allows consumers to view other customers’ inquiries, and to determine whether their question has already been answered. Companies that implement integrated knowledge bases into Facebook and other social media sites can deflect one-to-one inquiries by helping customers resolve their own issues quickly when they want to get answers.

Let the pros do their jobs through social media. Get the customer service and support teams involved with social media. For example, Rosetta Stone integrates all comments, responses, tickets and self-service issue resolution into our customer support operations and software. With this feature, we can resolve customer inquiries quickly (and profitably), while tracking every interaction—whether it is on the phone, via e-mail or through Facebook.

Social media is on your side. It’s scary to think that one negative tweet, post or video can create a snowball effect that can cost millions of dollars to repair, but you need to stop being afraid of social media. Remember, each time a fan comments on a brand’s Facebook page, that interaction is shared with an average of 130 friends (according to research firm Altimeter Group).

Social media should be viewed not as a threat, but as an opportunity to provide customers with a rich interactive experience that can increase loyalty by responding to complaints in a timely and honest manner. Shared “positive sentiments” by customers can snowball and have a lasting revenue-generating effect.

Do it in your own way. Your company should think about how to use social media as a valuable promotional tool—a way to engage customers with your products and services. Consumers have already adapted to the social media world, so it’s essential for you to get on board. With continuing economic uncertainty and tight budgets, your company will be fighting for every dollar.

Keeping the customers you have is less expensive than acquiring new ones. However, in this increasingly collaborative world, you can reach prospects by providing top-notch support that easily and quickly builds brand loyalty and spreads the word to prospective customers simply by extending interaction and support operations into multiple social platforms.

Jay Topper is senior vice president, customer success, at Rosetta Stone.

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