In today's hyper-connected world, your bus or coach business can quite literally become everyone's business! The average person spends more than 2 hours a day engaging on social media, 136 minutes to be exact. Therefore, it's important that your operation is part of the conversation when it comes to shaping how your brand is perceived.
The transparent nature of social media means that not responding to comments or mentions online is a sure-fire way to land your business in a PR nightmare. Consumers expect faster and more convenient methods of interacting with businesses. The ground travel industry is not exempt.
Is your business using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as effective customer service platforms?
Let's take a look at the main points to think about when developing a customer relations strategy for each platform, as well as examples of how bus and coach companies are using the online space to uplift their brand.
Developing a Customer Relations Strategy
At the backbone of customer service is your representative. When developing a strategy, you need to decide on who will take ownership of monitoring your social media channels. Is it your social media manager, or a dedicated customer service agent?
Then begs the question of how to handle the timing and response. When do you respond? Do you expect the team to be monitoring channels over the weekend? What sort of situations require escalation and a follow-up phone call or individual email?
Specific Channel Purposes
Keep in mind how people use the platforms, they don't all serve your customers in the same way.
People tend to visit Twitter for real-time information. In this case, using it to provide service updates would be helpful for customers looking for the most current route information, as we see Go Transit doing on their profile.
Facebook may be better suited for more branded content, running customer competitions, or perhaps for more extensive customer service inquiries. FlixBus manages this and more on their page.
Instagram could be better suited to growing brand awareness and introducing new products. It's also the perfect platform for sharing images of your team, bus, or passengers in action. Greyhound provides numerous examples of this on their profile.
Examples of How to Use Social Media to Deliver Great Customer Service
Never, Never Leave a Customer Hanging…
Can you think of anything more frustrating than a company not responding to your question or complaint? Being proactive here is key - as many as 7 out of 10 people admit to changing their perception of a brand from negative to positive after receiving a response to their post on social media.
In our example below, an irate passenger uses Facebook to contact FlixBus about an issue that hasn't been resolved.
In the thread, the passenger mentions not having time to resolve the issue on the phone, demonstrating how Facebook is used as a quick, real-time response platform to solve queries. After a series of interactions, the passenger receives the information they require and ends off thanking FlixBus.
Respond Promptly…Even if You Don't Have an Answer
People have high expectations for businesses responding online, in fact, 80% of them agree that their loyalty is influenced when they receive an immediate response to a request for help. For example, if someone is irate about an issue, thank them for bringing it to your attention and let them know you're looking into it right away. By indicating that you are ready and willing to engage (even if you don't have an answer) will give you a better chance of retaining their business in the future.
In this case, MegabusHelp did have the answer to a passenger's query about the status of a bus that was running late. In a matter of 10 minutes they tweeted a reply with the expected arrival time. When you're a passenger sitting at the bus stop waiting, receiving a prompt response like this can be key to keeping your sanity.
Let Customers Know That You're Great
Leveraging social proof and favourable online reviews can be an effective way to build trust with people. Specifically, potential new passengers. 93% of us admit that online reviews have an impact on our purchasing decision. Therefore, the more reviews and social proof you display which attest to your competency as a bus or coach business, the better.
City Link Ireland have chosen to include a recommendations and reviews section on their Facebook page. Judging from the number received, they have put a great deal of effort into asking their customers for the feedback.
The intended result? To build trust and improve customer relations. As a visitor to their profile, you get a better idea of the business' values after reading through the commentary. With nearly 20k followers, using this strategy has clearly worked to their advantage.
Bus and coach companies on top of their game know that social media can be used as a tool to really connect with customers and let them know that they value their business.
It’s not simply all about the customer either. Interactions on social media on average can cost six times less than using telephone as support. Reducing business expenses is as smart a tactic as keeping customers happy and engaged.
The sooner your bus or coach operation takes to managing relations on social, the quicker you can enjoy fuller brand advocacy and gain an edge over your competition.
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