The importance to millennials of brand presence on social media platforms is not a new discovery. 60% of millennials cite social media as having an influence on our purchases and brand loyalty. And considering that 87% of millennials in the U.S. are members of at least one, if not many, social media platforms, it’s a marketing channel that can’t be ignored.
In fact, 65% of millennials start interactions with a brand online by retweeting, mentioning, liking, and any other way of saying “I use this product; I trust this brand”; five out of six millennials in the U.S. connect with companies online, even if they don’t actively interact with them. In the face of those stats, many brands have learned to establish a robust social media presence. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough.
Yes, social media is a great way to inform millennial customers and followers of special promotions, product or service changes, and other messages, but it’s not what millennials crave the most from our online brands. In truth, millennials are seeking something more, and (ironically) something more personal. We are looking for a satisfying social media customer service experience.
For a generation that is often labeled as being incapable of traditional social interaction and communication (which is only reinforced by the trend of reaching customer service through social media), millennials have high expectations for the brands we follow to respond to our inquires, complaints, and tweets.
Platforms like Twitter make quick business of posting questions, comments, or complaints. They also offer the customer instant access to a group of other people who will back them up, especially if it’s a complaint. It changes the dynamic from “one customer making a complaint on a private phone call” to a public forum where hundreds, if not thousands, of others can listen in, chime in with their own issues, and demand an immediate answer from the brand’s social media customer service team.
Maybe social media complaining is popular among millennials because we have constant access to it through our smart phones (85% of U.S. millennials own smartphones, according to Nielsen, which we use an average of 45 times a day, according to SDL). It could also be that complaining is much easier to do when it’s directed at a social media customer service representative and not in-person. Or, maybe, it’s simply the idea that public shaming will garner a quicker, more thoughtful response than an email to a generic customer service account or call into a hotline.
Even if fellow followers of your brand weren’t privy to these kinds of posts, potential prospects are. According to SocialChorus, 95% of millennials in the U.S. rely on our friends for product information and are influenced by their opinions. Another 51% say that being able to see the opinions of other consumers—even if we don’t know them—has a great impact on our purchasing decisions.
Personal, timely, hand-crafted responses are needed to effectively manage dissatisfaction and start successful damage control. Here are a few tips on how to take your customer service to social media:
- Staff appropriately. Make sure you have enough bandwidth to respond to comments quickly and thoughtfully.
- Don’t be cute. The last thing anyone, millennial or not, wants when upset is to be pandered to. Save the hashtags and emoticons for another tweet.
- Be personal. Cookie-cutter, copy-and-paste responses are very easy to spot on social media, and your followers will not be kind when you’re caught.
- Don’t feel like everything has to be public. If someone is having a problem that isn’t widespread—for instance, one customer losing their luggage—make a public apology and offer to help them with the problem offline or through more private channels. That way, the public knows you’re working on it, while not putting the entire affair out there for the world to witness.
- Remember: online is forever. Once a post goes live, it lives on the web, even if you delete it immediately. While it’s important to respond quickly, don’t forgo taking a breath and thinking about how your response will read to the web and how it will affect your brand in the long term.
For more information on the impact social media customer service can have on how millennials perceive your brand, feel free to contact me today.
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