Common pitfalls observed in social media customer engagement strategies

Posted by Rajesh Mallaya | 19 Jun 2012
SocialEngagementEffort

When you think about brands like Zappos and Southwest Airlines, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

It’s probably the fact that brands are becoming more than active on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and are highly successful at engaging with their end customers. Visit any of their social media streams, and you’ll find a number of conversations developing between the brand and their customers – and they make it all look so easy!

But that’s just the problem.

While we’re all familiar with the success stories of how brands use social media channels to put a finger on the customers’ pulse and generally to engage with them, do you ever think about the pitfalls of maintaining these communication lines? How can you ensure that you don’t end up making some common, brand-eroding mistakes in your efforts to leverage the power of social media?

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t manage your social media accounts like other channels:Email, chat and telephones are largely one- on -one channels of communication. Quite often, these channels use scripted responses to increase productivity.But what makes this work is the fact that these channels allow a customer to restate or repeat his questions – in fact, as many times as he gets a satisfactory response.But when you’re talking about social media channels, the scenario is very different. These channels are transparent – and archived for the world to see. Scripted responses often make brands look “un-engaging and synthetic” – especially when different questions by diverse customers are met with the same response!
  • Avoid diverting social media conversations to other channels:Are you primarily using your social media accounts to divert customers to your inbound or email channels – particularly when dealing with complaints and grievances? Not a good idea!
    Social Media Engagement StrategiesWhile this may work for confidential communication channels (like email, chat or telephones), this approach can backfire in the social media space. Remember, a customer contacting you via social media channels might have already tried to resolve his issues through conventional channels. He’s perhaps here on your social media page because his problem was not resolved elsewhere. Diverting him back to a conventional channel can only end up annoying him further – something you should avoid at any cost.
  • Understand which support window suits your business best: Decide whether using your social media accounts for offering support is aligned with your industry’s needs. Some brands specifically mention their customer support hours on their social media accounts. However, they also continue to service customers over the phone and via email practically 24×7. Real Time customer support on social media channel for Travel & hospitality, IT services industries might not work well, as customer issues in these verticals need real-time attention, than near real-time attention. Similarly delayed responses can only send out wrong messages about your social media strategy not to mention the damage caused to your brand and customer expectations.
  • Avoid a siloed approach to social media:With increasing volumes and complexity in customer support issues, a silo based team often becomes a hassled approach with an additional cost. For instance, brands create a dedicated group to manage their social media accounts, typically under their marketing team. These groups are great at managing your brand on Facebook and Twitter. But are they also skilled in handling one-on-one customer engagements, sales opportunities, and customer complaints? Perhaps not.This is why it’s best to have these teams work alongside other customer service groups.Make sure your customer complaint resolution groups are well-integrated across all engagement channels with only the front-line engagement teams kept separate, if required.

So think closely about how you’ve been handling your social media accounts – do you feel you’ve made some the mistakes we talked about here? Can you think of instances where a customer has been left frustrated after an interaction with your brand through a social media channel?

If yes, perhaps it’s time to do things differently.

2 Responses to Common pitfalls observed in social media customer engagement strategies

  1. Manish Mishra says:

    Excellent insight about Social media customer engagement Sir !

    We well observed that –
    “groups are great at managing your brand on Facebook and Twitter. But are they also skilled in handling one-on-one customer engagements, sales opportunities, and customer complaints? Perhaps not.This is why it’s best to have these teams work alongside other customer service groups.Make sure your customer complaint resolution groups are well-integrated across all engagement channels with only
    the front-line engagement teams kept separate, if required. “

  2. Arti says:

    Hey Rajesh ! Nice and well thought article. It does point out mistakes organizations make. A lot of these issues arise due to the underlying intention. Do you want to engage the customers in true sense or just get maximum “likes” and then bombard them with one sided messages?. I believe that the engagement should be a mix of fun, information and what your brand stands for.
    Also the focus should be on “quality” of engagement rather than “quantity”. I have seen that some brands go overboard in posting messages which can create negative sentiments among customers.

    Regards
    Arti

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