Over the past few years, social media has changed how brands communicate with their audience, offering a new way for businesses to build relationships with their customers online. Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a massive part of social media nowadays. So much so, social media has become an essential part of customer service. Yet, few brands have invested in social media for their customer experience programme. In fact, only 58% of companies have a defined strategy for integrating social into their existing customer experience programmes. With COVID, the specifications for a great customer experience have changed – making it even harder for brands to adapt.
CEM is all about fostering and maintaining relationships with your new and existing customers to meet and exceed their expectations. It is about creating an emotional connection with followers through personalised customer service, championing your brand culture/ethos, personalised marketing and effective social listening. Users are heavily influenced by their experience with brands on social media. In a recent survey, 71% of consumers who had a positive experience with a brand on social media agreed that they were likely to recommend the brand to their family & friends. So, it’s important to get this right!
It’s time to spend some time transforming your social media into a winning and fool proof CEM system. Here, we discuss how restaurants can use social media to create an awesome customer experience in 2021.
1. Personalise your customer service
Nowadays, customers tend to rely on social media to complain or ask questions. Replying to disgruntled or curious customers is an essential part of CEM, since it involves maintaining a relationship with your consumers and demonstrating that you really care about their needs.
Instead of calling or sending an email, many consumers use social media DM’s to instantly get in touch with brands and they expect a response, and they expect it fast! Did you know, 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours. You would never ignore a customer in-store, and this should be the same online! Failing to respond can decrease customer advocacy by 43%. Every question should be answered in a timely manner, if not, customers will go elsewhere.
If you struggle to stay active on social media and find yourself taking a while to reply to messages, consider hiring a social media manager to take over this responsibility. If this is not an option, set-up a chat bot will all the FAQ’s. This way, all the frequently asked questions concerning delivery, complaints and menu queries can be answered immediately. You can even attach your menu and other documents to the FAQs, so you are covered. Try not to rely on the chat-bot. Sometimes, customers will have questions that only a member of staff can help with. So, try to stay active when you can.
When you do reply to customers, be personable! This includes DM’s, comments and reviews. Use the customer’s first name and be informal (whilst still professional) if its appropriate. Customers often want to know they are talking to a human and not a bot - an informal and personable approach helps this.
By doing all the above, you are showing your customers that your social media page is more than just promotion tool but a place where you can engage.
2. Champion your brands ethos/culture (don’t just sell sell sell!)
CEM is all about creating emotional connections with your business so customers love your restaurant for more than just what you sell. At first glance, this can be tricky to grasp. How can a restaurant connect with customers without using their products? Well, it’s about championing a brand ethos or culture that your business cares for deeply. Do you only use sustainable/organic ingredients, do you only serve seasonal produce, do you only serve vegan food, do you champion a diverse workforce, do you donate to a charity? If any of these apply, you have found your brand ethos. Customers who share the same ideals and values will rally to your cause!
Make your brand ethos easy to see and understand. Add it to your bio and make posts that refer to your brand culture/ethos. This way, passing consumers can quickly pick up on your values. Take Burger & Lobster as an example, they frequently post about the fisherman who work hard to source the finest wild lobster in the Atlantic. It is their fresh, expertly sourced produce that defines them as a brand and sets them aside from their competition.
3. Personalise your marketing
Following on from the above point, your content should be a constant sales pitch. Ideally, you should be following the 80/20 rule of social media. Importantly, only 20% of your content should be promoting your brand and 80% should be dedicated to content that engages your audience and captures their interests. Think about creating new and exciting content to really connect with your customers. Use stories to run polls and ask questions. Or maybe you are about to release a new menu, why not let those who will be purchasing your product help to come up with a name or dish? Don’t just highlight your product, show off everything related to your brand, your brand ethos, your workforce, your produce sourcing etc… It’s the humanization of the brand which helps to engage the consumer and really improves the overall customer experience. Customers will love to get involved and will be eager to engage with your brand.
By using polls and asking questions, you can also learn a lot about your customers. Use the feedback and apply it to your brand (whether it be increased opening hours or perhaps more vegan items) and your followers will love that they can get involved.
During COVID, many F&B brands decided to really push helpful/informative content. From follow-at-home recipe live streams to mental health guidance, this type of content performed amazingly well. Followers felt heard and understood that their favourite restaurant really wanted to further their relationship with customers even if their doors were closed. Wagamama did an amazing job of CEM during the pandemic, promoting exclusive recipe content and working closely with students to champion mental health during an incredibly challenging time. Wagamama aims to befriend their followers by creating an emotional and meaningful relationship with those who reach out. This is what CEM is all about.
4. Social listening
Before knowing how to create an awesome customer experience, you need to know what your customers want! This is where social listening comes in. Not to be confused with social monitoring, social listening involves analysing the conversations and trends happening in your industry. This could mean finding trending memes or learning that fruity cocktails are the talk of the town this summer. Last year, the trend revolved around banana bread and stay-at-home recipes for foodies who wanted to re-create their favourite dishes at home. Through social listening, F&B brands were able to realise this and adapt their content accordingly.
With these insights, you can then improve content, plan campaigns and get ahead of your competition who have not taken customer’s needs into consideration for their CEM. Social listening allows you to create the content that you customers want to see and stay on top of ever-changing industry trends. As soon as you invest in social listening, you are adopting a consumer-centric marketing strategy - so you are guaranteed to improve your overall customer experience.
It’s so important to invest time into your overall CEM. Your social strategy should be geared towards creating a smooth and awesome customer experience. Essentially, you need to be constantly mindful and conscious of your customer’s needs (especially when they change). If you would like some further guidance on this important subject, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!