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Social Media and Customer Service

Customer Service

The secret is out in living color on the cover of Consumer Reports – how to use social media as the last chance way to get some attention when unhappy with a product or service. This issue shares secrets to great customer service, and social media use is one of them.
Consumer Reports states that 84% of consumers who posted complaints to social media used Facebook.
The report goes on to suggest that social media can be a highly effective way to resolve customer complaints, even when other approaches fail.


JCPenney is one retailer that was cited as having great customer service via Twitter.


When a customer reached out by phone and learned of the hold times, she quickly went to the company’s Twitter page. She said that their phone wait times were “nuts” and within minutes a representative quickly tweeted a reply. After a bit of back and forth, the issue was resolved.


As the chart indicates, the under 25 demographic shows an indication that they will be the ones who will expect this type of service moving forward, so making sure those wait times are on target will be well worth the effort.

Ann Michaels & Associates, a leader in Customer Experience and Social Media Management, conducted a study on this very topic

How long is too long when it comes to receiving an answer to a product or service question in social media?As the Consumer Reports article shows a consumer expectation, Ann Michaels & Associates set out to look at the disparity between what consumers expect as far as wait time for brands to respond to consumer concerns vs what is actually happening.on social.
The study was initiated when it was evident social would serve as a customer service channel – take a look at consumer expectations vs brand response and learn how response time on social shifted over a three year period.
Click here to find out the results

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Things that Really Annoy your Customers

(What not to do)

Social media can be your greatest asset and your biggest downfall. Do it right and you can gain new followers, create loyal customers, and successfully grow your brand. But a few missteps and you can turn away potential customers.

If you get your approach wrong, it can quickly destroy your social reputation. Once your brand’s reputation is damaged, it is very difficult to rectify. And with so much online competition just a click away, it’s extremely easy for consumers to find another brand to fill their needs if you turn them off with the way you use social media, by your tone, or how you post.

So let’s start with why people follow certain brands on social media:

  1. They are interested in a product or service
  2. They are offered incentives
  3. They are interested in promotions
  4. They find the social media profile entertaining
  5. They wish to communicate with a brand
  6. Their friends or family follow the brand

And why people unfollow brands on social media:

  1. Too many promotions
  2. Too much tweeting/posting
  3. Irrelevant content
  4. Inappropriate use of jargon or slang that doesn’t comply with brand identity
  5. Erratic posting
  6. Failure to reply to comments /messages

(Source: sproutsocial)

So what social behaviors are most annoying to consumers? Here’s what to avoid:

1. Poor grammar and spelling

Poor spelling and grammar are the top most annoying things to social media users as a whole, according to market research. (A close second is the abundance of memes or political cartoons that have no place on a business social media account). It is way too easy to use spell check or hire a professional editor to check your posts before publishing them to make sure everything is correct. Your business page needs to reflect your brand identity, which should always reflect professionalism and attention to detail.

2. Begging for likes

If you are too focused on getting likes for your page you will lose credibility with followers. Social media should be used to engage with your target audience – not to boost your own ego with how many likes you have. Instead of blatantly asking for likes, shares, and comments, provide content that encourages your audiences to engage and gets them excited about being included in the conversation.

3. Improper hashtag use

Some people really love the hashtag – the more they can squeeze into a single post the better. But when it comes to any business profile on social media, you need to use hashtags wisely and appropriately. Use a limited number per post – two or three at most – and make them count. Only use hashtags that are appropriate to your business, industry, or individual post.

4. Ignoring criticism

No matter how great your company is, at some point in time you will receive negative feedback. It may not be deserved, but you should never ignore it. Always respond calmly, concisely, and offer to take the issue to a private forum such as a phone call, email, or direct message. Be polite and non-reactive – you need to be proactive, even in the face of negativity that is completely undeserved.

And address criticism quickly. The longer you wait to address complaints, the angrier the customer becomes. 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews. Read reactions thoroughly, respond quickly, and defuse the situation before it becomes a major deal. 

5. Posting too often

There’s a fine line between maintain an active presence on social media and completely overwhelming your audience.

Too many posts can be aggravating to the point that customers “unfollow” you or simply result in your posts becoming lost in your followers’ newsfeeds. Be aware that not every single follower will see every post. You should post to Facebook once per day – twice at most – during times when you have analyzed that your posts get the most response. This is critical!

6. Having a bad website

Every interaction a consumer has with your business counts…whether that is on social media, in a brick and mortar store, or on your website. 

For the 64% of you who have a website, remember that this may be the first impression someone has of your business? If they have a poor user experience, chances are they will not follow you on social media or become a loyal customer. The site should look professional and clean, include a menu so users can easily find the information they are looking for, and have links to your social media accounts.

The majority of website visitors (55%) spend less than 15 seconds on a page before bouncing. Make sure your website is worth the extra time.

A few other things to avoid….

  1. Liking your own posts
  2. Being spammy
  3. Following everyone who follows you
  4. Relying 100% on automation

On social media consumers are looking for deeper connections with the brands they choose. They take time out of their day to read your posts, watch your videos, and like and share your content. When done properly, social media marketing can create loyal brand ambassadors that will increase the growth and success of your company.

So work mindfully to make sure you avoid the above mentioned social media mistakes.

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Dirty Bathrooms and Messy Stores Still Hurting Retail

Retail Store

Can cleanliness and organization affect how a retail store performs? You better believe it. 2018 was a rough year for several retailers…proving that fact.

Toys R Us closed for good in the United States and was forced to liquidate because it was unable to sustain its debt load after a leveraged buyout in 2005. According to a filing with the bankruptcy court, Toys R Us had still been making $400 million payments on its debt every year.

Department stores, in particular, have been struggling because of declining foot traffic to malls, which has affected Sears, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, and Macy’s. They all have closed stores in the past year, and Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after years of declining sales.

The rise of e-commerce has played a huge role in the downfall of some retailers who can’t keep up with Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, etc. Although stores have been working on improving their marketing strategies, it hasn’t always been enough. Even on Black Friday, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, stores were relatively empty.

Maybe it’s because department stores are focusing on the big picture and not the details. During secret shopper visits to various stores, it was alarming what was discovered. Empty shelves, dirty carpet, displays so crowded you couldn’t sort through the inventory, and empty cash registers with no employees in sight.

Tom Buiocchi, the CEO of facilities management platform ServiceChannel, sees it over and over. Retailers cut back on store maintenance and improvements and end up on the fast track to bankruptcy, while those who invest in store improvements and upkeep are succeeding and expanding.

A study commissioned by ServiceChannel surveyed 1,521 consumers and 70% said they recently had a negative experience with a messy store, ranging from dirty bathrooms and broken toilets, to disorganized shelves and burned-out light bulbs. Over two-thirds said they have walked out of stores because they were messy or disorganized. Four out of five shoppers said they would rather have a clean store than ones with the newest tech, and two-thirds said retailers are forgetting the basics—like clean floors and well-stocked shelves—in the rush to add tech. “The vast majority of purchases are still being done by people walking into a location. And their experience of that location has never been more important,” Buiocchi said in an interview.

With so many other shopping options, retailers must be on top of their game. Consumers want to be rewarded when they make the effort to walk into a store and a dirty, disorganized store says the retailer doesn’t care—about the store or the shopper. Store maintenance used to be considered “a non-sexy part of the business,” Buiocchi said, “but now it directly affects the high expectation for an in-store experience. And facilities managers all have a role at the table now.”

Many of the new online brands that are opening stores are quick to recognize the value of rigorous maintenance and are signing up as customers. “There are the people that get it, and there are the people that don’t get it,” Buiocchi said. “Good progressive retail is investing in their brick-and-mortar experiences and enjoying the benefits of that,” he said. “Bad retail is not and they’re unfortunately being penalized for that.”

Although JCPenney has been struggling the past few years, new CEO Jill Soltau, is up for the task of bringing the stores back to life. Soltau, who took over the position in October, said in a recent earnings call that the department-store chain is failing to adequately deliver on some fundamentals of “good retail.”

On Tuesday, JCPenney reported first-quarter earnings for 2019; same-store sales during the quarter dropped by 5.5%, following a 6% drop in the previous quarter. “I am pleased with the strides we’ve made in setting key objectives, building our senior leadership team, executing significant changes in our assortment, such as eliminating major appliances, and mobilizing the entire organization around our priorities,” Soltau said in a press release on Tuesday. She continued: “JCPenney is an American retail icon that is very important to all of our stakeholders, and I am encouraged by the early signs I am seeing in our business as we work to realize the potential that lies ahead.”JCPenney, and other struggling retailers, are definitely capable of delivering on the fundamentals of great retail. The fate of the company now depends on its ability to execute this shopping experience across its entire fleet.

The problem is consistency. Visits to numerous JCPenney stores across the Southeast proved just that. Stores in Richmond, Virginia featured empty shelves, messy displays, and abandoned cash registers. The stores, which both anchored enclosed shopping malls, felt outdated and far too large. However, a third JCPenney store in a strip mall, revealed flawless design, layout, and presentation. This store obviously cared about presentation, reputation, and customer experience.

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