65% of consumers prefer dealing with brands they can reliably message on social media. 61% expect a reply faster than ‘a year ago’. If your business delays in replying to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter messages (or worse, ignores them altogether!) you could be alienating a large part of your customer base.

In a world where brand switching can be done with a few clicks, you need to be available online. If a potential customer has to wait more than a few hours for an answer to a simple question, they won’t think twice before contacting a competitor.

No one likes to be ignored
  • Have you ever taken to Twitter to air your grievances with a brand that’s treated you poorly?
  • Have you ever felt that your complaint emails have been ignored (cue the sound of crickets ringing in your ears).
  • Have you completely lost your mind whilst trying to reach a company by phone but spent hours on hold or being passed from one department to another?
angry man on phone

There are times when we’re all left thinking, “surely this company knows the answer to a simple pricing/delivery/quality issue … ” (ok, so our phrasing may be a little bit more colourful than that!!)

Do customers really use social media to reach brands?
woman, in a yellow dress, reading and messaging on her smartphone

Some companies are surprised that customers want to reach out to them via a Facebook or Twitter message. But with a phone in their hand and a quick tap on an app, it’s a fast, painless and cheap way for customers to ask questions and feel they’ve got a direct connection with your brand. Just because you don’t use direct messages doesn’t mean your customers won’t.

Many people still rely on email and phone calls as a way of reaching companies – but this is changing fast and companies need to keep up or lose out. Several surveys have shown that even though customers would prefer to use digital alternatives, such as Facebook messaging, tagging on Twitter and Instagram, or online chatting, business are forcing them to make phone calls or ignoring them altogether.

How often have you been infuriated by the endless telephone selection process, pressing an ever increasing set of 1-9s, ‘to connect you with the correct department’? Why would anyone put an already agitated customer through a system whose only outcome is to enrage them further?

The unreliability of businesses, when it comes to digital communications, forces customers to interact over a phone call against their wishes. This might not be seen as a big issue at first. However, it’s quite clear that giving digital more of your time could make a huge difference to your business and the way your customers think of you.

The added bonuses of digital communications and direct messages are both time and money savers. Digital interactions are usually faster, allow you to provide links if needed, highly personable, and can easily be kept for future reference and training.

How can you make your brand available online?

The first step is to have a strong online presence. If customers see your business is active on social media, encourages communication, keeps a regularly updated blog with customer focused tips, they’ll feel confident about contacting your brand this way.

Most platforms require manual responses to messages. One way of managing incoming messages is checking your social accounts regularly throughout the day. But that’s time consuming and not always practical, particularly for smaller businesses. Working with a digital marketing agency can remove this burden. Direct message management is an area that agencies excel at: quick, friendly, helpful on-message services without the need to tie up your internal resources.

A different way to offer customers instant solutions is the use of online text chats. There are two main ways to provide this service: directly on your website or through social network direct messages.

If you prefer to keep things ‘in-house’, a text chat service hosted on your website is a great option. There are plenty of services available and one of our favourites is LivePerson.

The rise of chat bots

As for the second possibility: Facebook allows interactive bots to be used within their Messenger platform. Facebook Messenger chat bots are a great way to solve your customers’ most common questions and problems immediately and without the need of a representative. There are numerous ways to pre-program a complete dialogue to resolve a variety of issues from subscription issues, order updates and FAQs. But you do need a real person to initiate bots, to monitor them and to ensure that actions are being taken correctly. The bots don’t rule, real people do!

The world of online customer communications is constantly changing, with new developments coming on the scene all the time. Working with a digital marketing company can help your business stay at the top of the social media game.

  • Does your company pride itself in excellent service but wants new ways to provide an even better experience for customers?
  • Do you want an affordable and efficient solution to manage direct messages?
  • Would you like to grow your business with a managed messaging solution?

Our friendly team are always on hand to provide advice & show you how to use the best digital marketing strategies.

It’s easy to set up a call, just click our ‘Free – How Can We Help?‘ link to schedule some time with us.