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16 Brands Leading the Way with Exemplary Social Media Customer Service

Lauren McCrea.

As social media continues to evolve over time, one thing remains constant when it comes to your business: the ability to connect with and serve your customers will always be crucial to your success. Creating that direct relationship with your customer can be achieved by reaching out through the same online tools that millions of people use worldwide. This is becoming the fastest and most cost-efficient way to build a significant customer service experience.

Countless numbers of industries that require direct and constant contact for business and service purposes, like retail, travel and hospitality, are already benefiting from social customer service. In today's online business world, a whopping 62 percent of customers have already used social media for customer service issues, including both positive and negative feedback. And turning a potential negative situation into visible positive sentiment is social media's biggest potential advantage.


Facebook Response Time

Timing is everything in customer service satisfaction. Traditionally, customers expect a response within 24 hours, but social media is bringing immediacy to interactions that cannot be ignored. To get an idea of what we're dealing with, we took the top 10 top brands as measured by their Average First Response Time to customer posts on Facebook.

Facebook Fan Posts With Company Comment

Another factor in satisfying customers is a brand's Percentage of Response Rate, or the amount of page posts by others that have a company comment. Investing time and effort to address customer problems and queries leads to a satisfied customer, and even avoids crisis. Hopefully at the end of a simple Facebook interaction you've gained one of the biggest assets for any brand on social media – a new brand advocate giving public recommendations.  In the same vein, positive posts warrant equal engagement, so enthusiastic and proactive fans are encouraged and included in the brand family.

Now that we've seen how the top companies compare, let’s take a closer look into each brand to see how successful social customer service on Facebook is done.

KLM

Since the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, KLM has become a leader in the social customer service field. With the volcano eruption, flights were cancelled and thousands of stranded passengers turned to social media for help. KLM was there, armed with the same channels to "respond more quickly to customer inquiries, re-direct them to other means of travel, and protect the KLM brand image," explains Viktor van der Wijk, Director of Digital Marketing at Air France KLM. It was the perfect example of a crisis averted with social media, and triggered a fundamental change in the way KLM handles customer service. Now, KLM places social media at the center of all their customer service efforts, with a precise goal to cut response rate to one hour and have all major issues resolved within 24 hours when dealing with posts and tweets. They do this well, with a 24 minute average first response time and a 92% post response rate to questions asked on Facebook.

KLM continues to go the extra mile to reach out and connect with customers through constant, creative social customer service campaigns like the Live Reply campaign or KLM Meet & Seat program, which they showcase on their Social Journey Facebook tab.

Next Online

Next Online is one of Britain's most beloved fashion brands, and also it’s largest e-tailer of apparel and homegoods. Next is also one of the easiest brands to contact via social media, with an average first response time of 36 minutes and an 87.8% fan post response rate in a personable and friendly voice. Instead of easily redirecting customer posts to a website, extra phone number or general email, Next Online representatives stay within Facebook as much as possible by using direct and private messages to solve personal issues or deal with sensitive information.

Walmart

With one of the fastest growing Facebook pages, the global retail giant Walmart has a lot of people to listen to. The brand encourages customers and employees alike to engage through social media and provides clear guidelines to help control the masses. They have an excellent 28 minutes average first response time, yet it is clear they do not respond to all of the posts. But hey, with a whopping 23 million Facebook fans as of October 2012, a lower engagement rate is expected.

Walmart's Facebook Feedback Tab employs the popular and efficient GetSatisfaction customer and community support tool. It allows the brand to better field customer issues, questions, ideas, problems and praise, while also providing consumer updates like product recalls. While Walmart does have an official Twitter account, they usually redirect those issues back to the Feedback tab.

Tesco

British company Tesco has grown to be the world's third largest retailer and is third on our list with a 79.20% post response rate. While not among the fastest response times, perhaps this is to their advantage. If you believe the premise that first-contact resolution leaves the best impression with a customer, then Tesco is a leader. Its first responses are information-rich and clearly delivered by knowledgeable customer service reps, under.

Tesco's Here To Help Facebook Tab provides a contact quick-list for the store's various Customer Service Teams with handy phone numbers and even a traditional contact form.

XBox

Xbox is doing big things in social customer service, and more than just gaming tween boys are benefiting. Not only do they have a Facebook page of almost 20 million fans, but their "Elite Tweet Fleet" earned the Guinness World Record for Most Responsive Brand on Twitter. Just as the @XBoxSupport handle provides rapid-fire, live gamer engagement, so does the Facebook team with a 38 minute average first response time and the use of the Xbox Live Support App, helping the support team solve problems before they become a live call (the most costly form of customer service).

AirAsia

On KLM's tail is AirAsia, with a high-flying 73.20% post response rate. The airlines cornerstone is represented with Lil' Miss Red: the cute and friendly avatar for the airline's online customer service operation AskAirAsia. With a website, Facebook and Twitter presence, AskAirAsia cheekily asks, "Tired of the Call Centre? Try AskAirAsia now!" Through social media channels, the customer service team is able to respond live to customer queries and avoid costly call centers, reflecting AirAsia's main goal to be "the lowest cost airline in every market they serve."

T-Mobile USA

T-Mobile USA is the only telecommunications-wireless company to make the lists with an average first response rate of 51 minutes and a post response rate of 70.40%. Impressive considering their service covers 129 million mobile customers as of the end of the first quarter of 2012. From good old-fashioned service and coverage gripes to new product launch questions, the T-Mobile Support Facebook App provides live chat with customer service representatives right on Facebook. The T-Mobile Twitter account is also a popular outlet for customer queries, and it will be interesting to see if T-Mobile USA can continue to keep up and satisfy customers in such a fast-changing industry.

CNN

CNN prides itself on providing "instant breaking news alerts and the most talked about stories." True to form, CNN averages a 49-minute first response rate, usually to viewers providing praise on an article or topic, while avoiding engaging the strong political opinions that frequent the page.

Ferrari

Chances are that the 9.6 million Ferrari fans on Facebook will not actually convert into purchasing consumers any time soon; which probably explains why the page shows a less than desirable percentage of post responses. However, kudos to the luxury sports car for engaging fans with a speedy 50 minutes average first response time. Touché, Ferrari.

Kohl's

Kohl's is one of the most proactive and accessible retail brands on social media today, reaching out to customers via Facebook, Twitter and incorporating social media for product reviews and shopping assistance into the Kohl's website for easy sharing. They have a good 1 hour & 12 min average first response time and maintain a strong relationship with customers on Facebook, be it a coupon code gone awry or positive experience in one of their 1,089 department stores across the US.

RedBox

Through the use of social media, the automated DVD-rental retailer RedBox has successfully merged offline rentals and online behaviors, and revolutionized the video industry along the way. Part of the company's success comes through engaging with customers on Facebook through constant deals and promotions (like Mother's Day and "Share your Love") with lightning speed – while they logged a 1 hour & 13 minutes average first response time, posts show the RedBox team answering almost immediately. They also boast a 62.60% post response rate and regularly engage the dispersed RedBox community online.

UPS

Something all social customer service operations should take note of, UPS puts names and faces to their Facebook Customer Relations Team. This behavior is fitting for the delivery giant, considering many UPS customers (especially small businesses) develop strong relationships with their local delivery person. Why not a social customer service rep as well? The team also sets expectations with a defined hourly schedule in which reps reply. Using this system, UPS boasts a 70.20% post response rate. The support app also offers a direct e-mail contact and easily accessible contacts for Twitter and on the phone.

Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's, providing "Subs So Fast You'll Freak," is a shining example of a customer service voice done right: a comical and accessible personality that totally relates to the customers on Facebook. That voice is made even sweeter with a 66.50% post response rate. As we've seen with many brands, fans can be counted on for overwhelming feedback of praise or unforgiving criticism, which Jimmy John's handles in stride with an endearing attitude and A+ engagement.

General Electric

GE is taking innovation beyond products and technology into the social media sphere, bridging the gap between B2B enterprises and customer and becoming more accessible along the way. A huge company with branches from Capital Finance to the more familiar Consumer & Industrial, the Facebook page (and GE Twitter account) acts as a hub for all segments and mainly receives posts regarding consumer goods or appliances with a solid 66.20% post response rate.

hhgregg

Consumer electronics and appliances retailer hhgregg has one of the relatively smaller fanbases on our list, yet makes up with significant engagement with a 63.9% post response rate. Using promotions and giveaways, they reach out to consumers and start a positive conversation, encouraging feedback both positive or negative to engage fans.

CBS News

As we saw with CNN, news corporations must be fast on their feet and flexible to engage viewers through Facebook and Twitter. CBS News is another organization doing this well with a 1 hour & 26 minute average first response rate.

Have you ever used social media to log a complaint or sing praise? What was your experience like?


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11 thoughts on “16 Brands Leading the Way with Exemplary Social Media Customer Service

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    One thing I've noticed; amongst the researched companies, only Next Online uses a customer service rep picture instead of the company's logo. In my opinion this is quite important since social media is personal in nature as well as the nature of customer service where you expect a personal care. I understand that many companies still can't accept to let this happen (providing customer service reps pictures I mean) since it may affect their corporate image, so probably a good solution is for the avatar to have the customer service rep picture combined with the company logo.

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