How to engage with customers online

The internet has narrowed the gap between brand and consumer, so here’s how to make the most of it as a business

It’s 2019, and more and more people are using social media to voice their opinions and experiences of businesses. This, of course, is a double-edged sword, leaving brands vulnerable to instant, public complaints. But on a more positive note, it also gives you the chance to connect directly with your consumers, improving relationships and protecting your brand’s reputation.

But knowing how to talk to your followers can be tricky, especially if you aren’t all that familiar with social media. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help you understand how to engage with customers online.

Why is online customer care important?

As social media continues to dominate modern society, it’s becoming more and more obvious just how important online customer care is for businesses.

Stats from Hootsuite really hammer this home. 67% of customers have used social media, live chat or texting to contact customer services, and more than a fifth (21%) of consumers say social media is the best channel for customer service.

More than 150 million people message businesses through Instagram Direct every month, and 69% of US residents say that directly messaging a company makes them feel more confident in the brand.

Your social media customer service can have a direct impact on your brand reputation. Customers who receive a response to their tweets are willing to spend as much as 30% more on a future purchase from that business, while 81% of Twitter users who don’t get a response say they won’t recommend that company to their friends.

Nearly half of consumers discuss ad customer service with friends, and 24% talk about it on social media.

So what should you do?

Respond to genuine contributions, and respond quickly

This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many businesses simply fail to respond to online comments and messages, or else leave it too long to reply. A Twitter study found that 71% of users expect a response within an hour.

Answering all questions on social media may take time, but it shows that you are a responsive, reliable and caring business. This is your chance to speak to current and future customers directly, so start building bridges.

The only exception to this rule would be when unwarranted negative comments are applied which are offensive, inflammatory or flat-out false.

Set tone of voice guidelines

Setting up guidelines for customer responses will make your replies faster and more consistent. These guidelines should cover all aspects of your comments, including tone of voice, response time, FAQs and protocol for more serious enquiries.

Tone of voice is the big one here. Whether your business is easy-going and conversational or more formal, establishing a voice for all your responses will help to give your business a recognisable personality.

Turn public conversations private

It’s becoming more and more commonplace for customers to seek answers to their questions and issues on social media, so you may find yourself getting Facebook comments or tagged Tweets asking for help with technical problems or complaints.

These kinds of issues are always best dealt with behind the scenes, otherwise you’re inviting others to watch you try (and possibly fail) to solve the problem. So reply to the comment and direct the customer to your Direct Messages or email address.

Offer solutions

Whenever you’re responding to negative feedback, don’t just apologise and move on. Instead, offer something the consumer can actively do in order to make things better. This will make it seem like you really care.

For example, if you’re a take-away company and a customer tweets about a problem with their food, replying just to say “we’re sorry” doesn’t really feel good enough. Instead, you could offer them a discount on their next order.

Looking to boost your business’s online presence and turn followers into customers? Get in touch with Clear Editorial today and find out what we can do for you.