Remember the days when one had to call the generic 800 number on the back of a retailer’s receipt if he or she had any problems or praises relevant to his or her recent purchase? Or better yet when one had to wait in a long line stretching for what seemed like miles to return an object or complain about a service? These moments would be filled with impatience, anxiety, and overall discomfort for both the retailer and the consumer which would indubitably distort the customer service further as both parties would be irritated by their own emotions and external factors. Well, gone are the days of tedious waiting, periodical public quarreling, and blotched customer service!
Retailers have taken a new spin on things by incorporating the heavy use of social media in order to answer any customer questions, raise the overall customer satisfaction levels, advertise its expertise, and create accountability. Social media tools not only allow the retailer to address any problems, concerns, or praises quickly and efficiently but also open up a portal for an expedient two-way interaction between the consumer and the retailer that is founded on a friendlier more informal platform as opposed to one that is more cold and professional.
Even though, social media was not primarily focused with business ventures in mind, they have become increasingly popular with businesses (especially retail ones) because of their [social media] abilities to reach such a wide audience in such a short period of time and to open up a gateway for conversation with the consumer. Tools such as Facebook and Twitter allow the retailer to portray itself more humanly which evokes a sense of comfort, amicability, and sincerity from the consumer which eventually allows for more personable relations and honesty to and fro.
Also, with the aid of social media consumers are able to see the ratings of a retailer before he or she makes a purchase as a result of the posts and tweets made by other customers. Therefore, social media creates a concrete sense of increased accountability on the part of the retailer because there is such a natural and easy flow of communication to a broader audience. The way in which the retailer handles and addresses the concerns advertised on its page will eventually lead to its rise or demise. Hence, it is crucial that the retailer checks its Twitter, Facebook, etc constantly to satisfy any complaints and thank any praises. This eventually leads to an increase in customer satisfaction levels, increased customer loyalty, and even an increased customer following (as a result of referrals).
Furthermore, social media opens up a doorway for the retailer to not only advertise its products and services but also its expertise in comparison with its competitors. A retailer may use Facebook and Twitter to post in real times any promotions that may be coming and tag any of its followers in order to notify any potential customers instantaneously. In a similar manner, retailers may also use social media to tout their own expertise in that specific industry in relation to its competitors by posting customer reviews, pictures, etc. immediately on the company account.
Personally, I have seen the twitter accounts of Nordstroms, Whole Foods, Target, and Starbucks and all of these accounts establish a friendly rapport with the customers tweeting to them. These companies reply back to any complaints quickly and also respond back with personalized suggestions. However, they do not limit customer interaction simply to that related to customer service means (such as complaints and praises) but also start a conversation with a customer asking him or her which product they like the best or to send a cute picture using the company product in order to be featured on the company site. These personalized incentives allow for fun and easy conversation which ultimately build a strong bond between the customer and the retailer. It is the goal of the retailer to quell the unfortunate stigma that retailers do not care about the customers but only their money and it is amazing how far a quick response can go.
By: Anuja Gaikwad Team Groupsoft US