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COVID-19 Customer Service

ecommerce

Customer service adjustments. During the last several months we have all had to make a lot of changes to our lives. We all have our own personal story on hardships as well as new opportunities. Working from home for the first time. Working while trying to home school kids for the first time ever. Getting accustomed to wearing a mask for the first time. Social distancing all while trying to work and take care of our families.

During this time I think that most consumers have shown appreciation for the essential front line workers and we understood when our Amazon order took 2 weeks instead of 2 days. We appreciate those hard working people sacrificing for the well being of others.

Are Things About to Change?

While for the most part, people continue to have patience. Some people are showing a great deal of resistance to mask wearing and retailers and restaurant owners have had to quickly train employees on how to handle an unhappy guest who didn’t want to comply.

My concern is more along the lines of people using the pandemic a an excuse for poor customer service. I have two examples of what I am referring to.

Local Steals and Deals

I am located in the Charlotte, NC area, and I see their commercials daily. Sometimes as part of my local evening news (slower news days). They have a spokesperson who is very compelling and does a great job selling products. Their About Us section on their website states the following:

Local Steals and Deals is operated by Knocking (www.knocking.co) in association with Cox Media Group.

We connect the best brands with Cox Media Group’s audience, offering exclusive deals.

I like the concept. However what I wasn’t impressed with was the customer service. I placed an order 2 months ago and never received my purchase. I honestly think I would have forgotten about it altogether if it were not for the commercials! After emailing the company, I found out that the product is no longer available. It left me wondering how many people placed orders and then forgot about them? Automatically refunding customers on out of stock items, should be part of any e-commerce site these days.

Website Hosting

A quick chat with my hosting company regarding a log in issue I was having kept me busy for over an hour trying to trouble shoot with them in a chat. Finally, I was told my issue would be escalated and that I should try again in a few hours. Good enough. I did what he said and even waited until the next day. Still had the same problem. Got on the chat with them again, knowing full well that I would have to start from the beginning. Sure enough. When I asked if my issue was escalated as I was told, I received an awful reply. I was told that because of COVID19, they were working with reduced staff. Really? You are working on a computer from your home office, I would bet. How could COVID be affecting your customer service?

Don’t Neglect Your Customer Service

Times are hard and budgets are tight. Now is not the time however to neglect your customer service standards. In fact, I believe it is the time to make them an even more important priority. Evaluating what is happening when a customer engages with your business or brand is more important than ever before. People will remember the businesses who came through for them during this time.

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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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