Loyalty exists when an existing customer chooses to do business with you even when a cheaper, more convenient or even higher quality option is on offer from another company. - Simon Sinek
There are plenty of cute cats, and indecipherable hashtag campaigns out there, but not all social media is white noise. Channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all rich sources of customer information and provide brilliant communication tools for supporting and delighting customers.
In other words, it's is a serious business asset for building and maintaining customer loyalty.
So why delight?
Consider the following:
- It is six to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.
- 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.
- Only seven percent of consumers report experiencing customer service that exceeded their expectation.
Delighting your customers means you continue to benefit from the investment you made in obtaining them in the first place as they renew licences, upgrade and cross-buy from you.
You also benefit from free media as happy customers turn into promoters. 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing. Delighting customers to such an extent that they undertake word-of-mouth marketing on your behalf provides you with the kind of marketing that money cannot buy.
Building trust and love
There are several specific ways you can use social media to delight customers, which we'll get to shortly, but first it's important to understand the spirit in which you undertake these activities.
More than what you do, delighting customers is about how you make how you make customers feel.
Hubspot highlights communication and education as core ideals for delighting customers:
Personal is better than impersonal
Teaching is better than neglecting
While the benefits are good for business, delighting customers shouldn't come from a purely mercenary place. The idea is to build lasting, trusting relationships by being personable and likeable, or even better loveable, as both a brand and as individual members of the company.
Pick your place, tailor your tone
The first thing to consider when delighting is your buyer personas. You need to know where your customers are likely to be, and what sorts of conversations and questions they are having.
It's important to pick the right place for different strategies of delighting people. Facebook is great if you have lots of followers already interacting with you on your page. However, if you are only just building your community, achieving personal interactions might be easier on Twitter where people can respond quickly and easily and find topics with hashtags and mentions.
You also want to consider your style of interaction. LinkedIn is professional and business focussed making it ideal for industry-insider tips, whereas Instagram is better if you're looking to post pictures of your office Christmas party and develop a personable brand.
Eight ways to use social media to delight customers
- Responsive customer service. Twitter and Facebook in particular have become the first port of call for many customers when they have a complaint or problem. Be sure to monitor any accounts you have for customer service queries and respond as fast as you are able. Ideally, you should include your operating times and ideal response times in your profile in order to manage customer expectations.
- Proactive problem-solving. Use social channel listening tools to watch out for comments or concerns around your brand, product or even general area of expertise. Customers won't always mention you directly in a post, and may not even be expecting anyone to solve their problem - so if you can spot their issue and jump in before they even realise you can help, you'll be creating a very happy customer.
- Listen and learn. 'Stalk a little bit,' as DigitalRoots suggests. Social listening can also be useful for doing a little bit of research into the frustrations, needs and interests of your customers to help you tailor your delighting actions better.
- Share in their success. Promote your customers and celebrate their success. Respond to positive mentions of your company, and help your customers to expand their reach through your social channels. After all, their stories are likely to resonate with similar buyer personas who may be earlier in the sales cycle and still deciding whether or not to become a customer.
- Share custom content. Inbound marketing isn't just about getting people into and through about the sales funnel: it's also about keeping them coming back even once they've made that initial purchase. Create content like webinars, training guides and how-to blog posts that help customers get the most from their purchase.
- Go above and beyond. Delighting customers can often mean surprising them. Aim to exceed expectations and offer more than the minimum. How you do this depends on your business and your customers, but WestJet offers a great example.
- Own up and update. You might curse social channels for its always-on, instant reaction culture, but when it comes to problems, it can actually work in your favour. Owning up to mistakes or technical issues straight away and keeping customers regularly updated as you solve the issue helps to minimise criticism and upset. 37Signals is a great example of this - just look at the comments below their update about a recent DDoS attack.
- Ask for feedback. Ask questions and find out from the people who are actually using your product or service how it can be improved. And be sure you intend to respond and react to that feedback and show you respect your customers' opinions.
Social media is one tool among many
Finally, remember that while social media is an incredibly useful and versatile tool, it's not the only one at your disposal for delighting customers.
Be sure to pick up the phone now and then, or, even better, send a hand written note. Above all, find out how your customers want to be loved and delighted and do just that.