The internet never sleeps. Tiny sections of it may take an hour or two a week for routine maintenance, but for the most part, any presence generated there is available all day, every day, waiting for someone to access it. But what happens if someone interacts with it in the middle of the night?
The tenets of customer service dictate that keeping a customer waiting for anything is a cardinal sin. Inside the reasonable boundaries of the business world, everything is subjective. Delivering a pizza takes about 45 minutes. An auto insurance quote takes 15 minutes. And popular opinion dictates that if it’s available online, it should be instantaneous.
But is it really worth the trouble to have somebody managing a business’s social media accounts around the clock?
A Response is More Important Than Its Timestamp
The interesting thing about social media is that it frames organizations and businesses like people. They’re treated virtually the same way as an individual, be they a friend or family member, and like any individual, it turns out that people give them allowances for work, sleep, or any other necessity. According to interactive content specialist Chris Hall, it’s not being instantly responded to that gives people a boost of affirmation on social media; it’s simply being responded to at all.
A response a week or two after the initial question diminishes any sense of interaction and can make a customer feel like they’ve been lost in the shuffle or aren’t listened to, but as it turns out, there isn’t much of a difference between 10 minutes and 10 hours in the social media landscape.
If a user remembers before bed that he wants to order a product not yet on the market and tweets “When’s it coming out?�? to the manufacturer, an answer when that user wakes up is, in some ways, more valuable because it’s during business hours, and they have more resources available to place an order, or won’t forget by immediately falling asleep after receiving an answer.
Don’t Give Customers The Chance To Look Elsewhere for Attention
A key exception to this newfound wiggle room is in the case of customer support. If a customer of a cloud storage business is up all night working on a presentation that’s due first thing in the morning and suddenly all of his files disappear, he needs an answer now. After screaming and seeking spiritual guidance, the first thing he’s going to look for is what kind of around-the-clock support the business offers.
He notices that the phone lines are open only during business hours, and there’s no live agent chat, but that people post questions on the service’s Facebook page and get answers. So that’s what he does. At first, he’ll feel relief that he’ll have his files back in no time and can get back to work, but every minute that passes on the clock is a universe of anxiety and agony. Before more than a few minutes, he’ll start hitting up forums and searching all over Google looking for an answer.
If the business responds quickly, he’ll be loyal, grateful, indebted even. He’ll know he can trust the brand. If they get back 24 hours later with just the customer support number, the issue has already passed. It’ll be chalked up as “too little, too late,�? and even by being responded to, the customer will still feel unheard.
Strike the Balance Between Accessibility and Sustainability
In a perfect world, responding to every customer’s question, comment, or feedback immediately would be simple and cost-effective. Some businesses are actually able to afford 24/7 maintenance and support, providing multiple social media managers to make sure that someone is there to listen and respond, no matter when somebody has something to say. The average business operates in a more limited capacity, but their social media accounts don’t have to.
As Social Media Strategies Summit points out, doing this is often as simple as having the right tools in place to post regularly throughout the day to stay visible, and manage any communication that takes place.
Keeping an open ear to customers without losing sleep over responding can help your business look as human as its social network profiles suggest it is.