Thursday, 23 March 2017 09:53

Customer Service in the 21st Century Connecting to Customers on Social Media

Written by   Kelley Moore

Great customer service is the cornerstone of any business – keeping clients happy with their services and overall brand will keep them coming back.

Customer service now goes well beyond talking to the front desk staff, calling the customer care line, or even sending an e-mail. Customer service lives on social media, which makes it a very visible part of the business' brand.

This news is great for businesses because social media offers an opportunity to immediately connect with customers, solve any issues, and keep the business at the top of the customer's mind.

Increases Accessibility
Regardless of the industry of a business, that business' customers are on social media: They are engaging with friends and colleagues and while they are at it, they may just engage with a business. Clients take to social media to share their experiences with businesses – good or bad – ask questions, and look for solutions to problems. Sending a tweet, posting to a brand's Facebook wall, or commenting on an Instagram picture can be easier than making a phone call or writing an e-mail because that customer is already actively on the business' social platform. As a business, this access provides an opportunity to answer clients' questions in whichever way is easiest and most accessible.

Engagement Begets Engagement (and Trust)
The more skin care professionals engage with clients online, the more others will begin to engage with the professional. If a client sees the professional answer another client's question or resolve a complaint on social media, that client will be more likely to reach out to the professional on social media. Responding directly to the client on the platform in which they asked the question also allows current and potential clients to see the great customer service the professional offers. This engagement not only encourages professionals to be more active with their online presence, but also builds trust with their clients. Furthermore, the more people the professional engages with on these platforms, the more searchable and discoverable their profile becomes, making it easier for new clients to find them.

Expanding the Relationship Beyond the Treatment Room
Building a social media presence for the spa and engaging with clients online allows the professional to foster and grow connections with clients even when they are not receiving a service. Extending good customer service to any feedback the professional receives on social media, positive or negative, reinforces the positive experiences the client has had within the treatment room and the spa. This response furthers the connection the client feels to the business and the brand.

Third Party Recommendations
Recommendations from friends and family can make a huge difference when potential clients are deciding where or from whom to receive a service. The same can be said for online reviews and conversations. The internet has opened up a world of research that allows people to explore others' experiences with something they may want to try and many people turn to social media for such research. Engaging in customer service online creates a history of those conversations for others to view when looking for a service, which could draw new clients to the professional's business.

pic-2Social Listening
Monitoring what people are saying about the spa on social media platforms is called social listening. Fostering conversations across social media also allows professionals another avenue to listen to their clients and gain important insight into what people think of their business. Clients will share both positive and negative experiences, which will help the professional understand what is going well in their business and what they can improve upon.

For example, the professional might see multiple clients raving about one product or service and consistently complaining about another. The professional may want to find ways to expand the service that is getting great reviews and reevaluate what is receiving criticism. The professional might find that a particular employee consistently receives positive feedback for going the extra mile; find out what that employee is doing and encourage the rest of the staff to do the same.

Negative feedback is not always so obvious. Take note of posts that receive high engagement and compare them to posts that receive little-to-no engagement. High engagement is telling of what is popular among clients, while low engagement will show the converse. Finding a common denominator between high-engagement posts can help determine what clients are most interested in hearing about. The professional can then apply that information to the rest of their social media content.

Putting in the Time
Managing customer service on social media requires a time commitment. The professional will need to dedicate resources to manage their accounts; someone has to post content, answer questions, and respond to any feedback. This time commitment does not mean the spa needs to have a staff member solely dedicated to social media, but they will need to have someone, or multiple people, responsible for monitoring their channels on a regular basis. Some businesses have one person that regularly monitors their social platforms, while others rotate the responsibility between multiple staff members. The amount of time spent monitoring the accounts will depend on the number of social media platforms being utilized, the size of the spa's following, and the amount of engagement from clients. The best advice is to start slowly. Pick one or two social platforms to use when getting started. The professional will be able to dedicate more time to each of them and better gauge what the overall time commitment will need to be.

Real Time Responses
One of the most important things to remember about social media is that it is immediate. When someone goes on social media, they are looking for instant gratification – a quick response to their question, an acknowledgment of their complaint, or even a "like" to their positive feedback. Businesses that are the most successful on social media acknowledge any comments as quickly as possible, even if they have to follow up with more information later.

Addressing Concerns and Negative Feedback
After a negative experience, people often turn to social media to either share their experience or look for a resolution to their issue. When the professional receives this type of communication, whether it is through a comment, review, or direct message, the best thing for them to do is acknowledge the client's concern in a timely manner. Even if the professional is not able to immediately answer the client's question or solve their problem, a quick response makes the client feel heard and goes a long way in resolving an issue positively. The professional should let the client know they are looking into the concern and will follow up with the full answer or resolution once they have it. It is also essential to thank them for their feedback, which not only shows the client that the spa wants to correct the situation, but also shows anyone else who sees the online interaction that client satisfaction is of the utmost importance.

Taking Customer Service Offline
Many customer service questions can be answered directly on the platform in which they are asked: operational hours, availability of a particular product, and whether or not a service is being offered. If the question can be answered thoroughly and concisely without additional information from the client, respond directly on the platform. Clients see the professional as the expert and are seeking their advice, but too many details can make the professional's response muddled and confusing.

However, the professional will run into issues that are better resolved in private messages or offline. These issues include anything that requires getting more information from the client, such as questions about which products they should be using to issues that would better be resolved over the phone, like a complaint about negative results from a service. When these issues come up, the professional can send the client a private message on the platform on which they reached out to them, or can ask the client for their contact information so the professional can reach out to them directly about the issue. Either way, be sure to acknowledge the action they are taking publically so others will see that they responded to the issue. For example: "Hi Katie. We are sorry to hear about your experience – that is definitely not typical. We would like to get some additional information from you so we can help resolve the issue. Look out for a private message from us. Thanks." The professional can also say, "Hi Katie. Thank you for your feedback. We'd like to reach out to you directly so we can solve your issue. We've sent you a private message asking for your e-mail address so we can contact you there. Thanks."

Engaging with Positive Feedback
Social media is not all about managing negative customer service complaints. There is plenty of positivity to go around. Clients also love to share what they love about businesses, such as awesome results from services, positive interactions with employees, and overall great experiences with the spa. Just as the professional acknowledges criticism and negative feedback, they should also acknowledge the praise they receive too. If a client leaves a comment thanking their aesthetician for their latest treatment, reply with, "Thanks for coming in! We always love to see you!" If a client shares a picture of their clear skin thanks to a series of treatments and homecare products, like the picture and leave a comment thanking them for sharing and telling them how wonderful and healthy their skin looks.

Finding Your Voice
Social media should be used as an extension of the professional's brand, be it large or small, so do not lose sight of the spa's voice. When posting or engaging with clients, channel the brand through a human voice; be relaxed, but professional. Customize responses like the client is being spoken to face-to-face. Using a familiar voice not only strengthens the professional's branding, but also helps clients feel more comfortable and loyal.

Surprise and Delight
While responding to clients on social platforms is very important, professionals also have the opportunity to give those clients who take the extra time to talk to them online something extra. This surprise will make clients feel special and encourage them to continue engaging with the professional on social media. For example, if one of the clients shares a picture on the spa's Facebook page after every chemical peel to show the professional, and all of her social media followers, her glowing results, the professional might consider giving her a free product when she comes in for her next treatment. The professional can comment on the post telling her that, as a thank you, something special is waiting for her the next time she comes in, so not only she sees that she is getting something, but others do as well, which also encourages them to post.

While the main principles of social media customer service apply to all platforms, the specific tactics of monitoring and responding vary by channel.

There are multiple ways clients may communicate with the professional on Facebook. Clients may leave a comment or image directly on the spa's wall or they may send a private message. The professional can easily monitor both avenues directly on Facebook. When the professional is logged into their business page, they will receive a notification within the Facebook page when someone has posted directly to their wall, when they receive a message, or when someone comments on, likes, or shares one of their posts. The professional can also change their settings to add more users to the business page and receive e-mail or push notifications to the mobile phone.

Once the professional receives a notification, they can respond directly to the comment on their computer or on their mobile device within the Facebook Page Manager mobile application. To make this process easier, the professional can get push notifications to their mobile device to know immediately when someone is interacting with them on Facebook.

On Instagram, clients may comment directly on the professional's posts, send them a direct message, or mention them in a picture they are posting. The professional can monitor comments, direct messages, and mentions of their Instagram account directly within the mobile application. Much like Facebook, the professional will receive notifications of all new activity when logged into their account. While the professional cannot post pictures from the website, Instagram does allow them to respond to comments and messages on both the computer and within the mobile application. However, Instagram will only show the professional the most recent notifications, meaning comments and mentions can get buried and lost. Be sure to scroll through the posts to check for recent comments that may have been missed. Outside platforms, such as Iconosquare, are also helpful with tracking engagements on Instagram.

Clients may contact the professional on Twitter by responding to a tweet, sending a direct message, or mentioning the professional in a tweet they are sharing. Monitoring Twitter activity within the platform can be difficult because it moves so quickly. When someone engages with the professional directly, the professional will receive a notification in the Notifications tab. Most businesses and brands choose to use a management tool to track their Twitter activity, such as TweetDeck or HootSuite. These platforms allow the professional to not only track all of their notifications in one place, but also track keywords people might be using about their business. This tool comes in handy if someone shares a tweet that includes the name of their business without tagging the business' Twitter handle. The professional can respond to clients directly on the computer, in the mobile application, or from a management tool if they are using one. Both TweetDeck and Hootsuite also have mobile applications, so the professional can respond on their mobile device.

Engaging with clients on social media is well worth the time and commitment to build the brand's presence and connect with clients. Showing clients that the professional cares about any and all feedback makes them feel connected to the professional and the spa, and not only makes them more willing to come back, but also more likely to refer a friend.

kelley-MooreKelley Moore is the digital media manager at PCA SKIN. She has a background working both on and offline with consumer retail brands in multiple industries. With a focus on content development, consumer communication, and customer engagement, she specializes in creating connections between consumers and brands.

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