Retailers fail at customer service on Facebook

Retailers fail at customer service on Facebook

More than promoting deals or driving retail traffic, engaging in social media can help stores demonstrate a commitment to customer service. For anyone who has found it difficult to find a store's Facebook page, let alone interact with anyone who works there, it's not surprising that many retailers are falling short. According to a study conducted by the customer service evaluation company STELLAService, not only do some big-box stores ignore shopper questions posted on Facebook, in some cases they actually delete them!

Of those surveyed, only five B&H Photo, Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Williams-Sonoma, responded to shopper questions within two days and left the questions on their pages. Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, and Rue La La, deleted shopper questions, though some did answer them before erasing. Unfortunately, the study did not address the likelihood of a shopper to frequent a store after posting a question and having it deleted by a retailer. I know I'd look for another place to shop.

From the beginning, natural retailers have separated themselves from conventional stores by engaging with shoppers and providing information. Extending those efforts online is an opportunity not to be missed. Here are a few easy tips to help your store shine:  

  • Remember, Facebook is for friends.
    You're not talking to shoppers, you're engaging with them. Get feedback on new products to stock and offer discounts to those who "like" you. Follow active users and comment on their posts. Show that you're interested in building a relationship, not just selling products.  
  • Timing is everything.
    In your store it may be perfectly acceptable to respond to customer queries within two days. Online though, two days can feel like two years. When Facebook users engage with friends, they're accustomed to real-time responses. Offer the same when they reach out to you, and keep the conversation going. What else do they have to say about their shopping experience? Should you offer more vegan options in the deli? Would they pay more for certified USDA organic personal care products?
  • Be consistent.
    Checking in on Facebook every day can feel tedious, but schedule at least 10 to 15 minutes. If two days can feel like eternity online, can you imagine five days of inactivity?
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