Social media and customer service – it seems an unlikely combination, however, it exists and is increasingly getting traction. Customers connect to businesses over social networks and use their pages as channels to request support and assistance. With 3.6 billion social media users in the world, this trend is hardly surprising.
And that is not the only way customers interact with brands via social networks. 43% of users research products and services via social media before making a purchase. With such user activity in social media and social networks, it would be smart to use this trend to generate new leads, increase your customer retention and engagement rate, and, generally, promote your products and services.
In this context, I recommend that you use your social media presence as a customer service platform. This move is going to bring multiple benefits if you consider the important components of customer care and support over social media.
Essential elements of a successful strategy of social media customer support
Surely, all businesses are different, and you may have already learned social trends and designed your social media marketing strategy accordingly. However, some key practices of customer service apply to everyone.
Monitor social media
Through social media monitoring, you pick up each occasion when your brand or name is tagged. In this way, it is different from social media listening. Listening brings all mentions of your name, while monitoring helps to find posts where customers specially tagged you to draw your attention to the post.
When a customer tags a brand, they never do it just for fun. They either have a problem with your product or a question that they want to be answered. Sometimes, it may be a positive review. In any case, it is a good practice to respond to such tags quickly. This way, you show that you care for your customers and want them to have the best experience with your product.
There are reliable monitoring tools that can assist you in detecting all such tags quickly. Check, for example, Google Alerts that will inform you of all mentions of your name or another keyword in social media.
It is not enough to just note all posts where you are mentioned or tagged. The key thing is to respond to them, and respond quickly. 40% of customers expect that businesses respond to their tagged social media posts within one hour. However, businesses reply, on average, within five hours. Such a discrepancy between customer’s expectations and companies’ behavior is often the reason for complaints.
Responding to a direct question as quickly as you can is going to improve customers’ satisfaction with your brand which is one of the essential social media customer service goals. For that purpose, you need to hire dedicated personnel to post, comment, and respond on social media. Needless to say, such personnel should have enough experience and skill to represent you properly in social networks.
Always answer to negative comments
Let’s face it, comments and posts on social media are not always positive. Lots of customers use their social network accounts to describe their bad experiences with a certain brand. This trend is on the rise – in the USA alone, one-third of the entire population complained about brands on social media.
If you are a customer-facing business, you will get your share of bad reviews and comments. The reason is not necessarily your poor service or product quality. Sometimes, people write bad reviews just because they need to vent. Still, you need to handle all such reviews in the same friendly and polite manner.
In dealing with negative comments, follow some basic rules:
- Act quick. The shorter you take to respond, the higher your reputation will be. Don’t wait for more negative comments from users who might think you are ignoring the original post.
- Always post the first response publicly. The complaining customer posts on social media, primarily, to create exposure for their bad experience and draw attention to you. Answer in the same public space, so that your answer is seen by the same number of people as the complaint.
- Do not ask to post any personal details in public. Suggest moving the discussion to the private channel where the customer can describe their experience in more detail.
- Be sincere and empathic. Empathy can help you set a calm and friendly tone to the conversation, which, in turn, can lead to working out a solution acceptable for both you and your customer.
Dealing with negative comments is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. If you can show respect to the customer and offer them an appropriate solution to their problem, they may even follow up with a positive post.
Go private when necessary
There are many reasons why you should move your communication with a customer to a private channel. The most frequent case is handling a negative comment or review. Apologize publicly but ask for details in private. A negative comment is usually associated with the customer’s personal experience, and its discussion might require details that must not be publicly disclosed.
The same refers to responses to customers’ inquiries about a specific product. Sometimes, to help the customer select the right item, they need to provide personal data, such as height, size, weight, etc. It is much more suitable to have such discussions privately.
Besides, think about your – and your customers’ – subscribers and followers. They will receive a notification about each message in your conversation, even when it has nothing to do with them. Thus, go private!
Offer self-service resources
Analyze the questions and issues that your customers refer to you via social media and try to identify patterns. Maybe, some question is asked frequently by different people. Or, you may be getting similar comments about your website or app experience. In that case, you might benefit from offering various self-service resources and should promote them proactively via your customer service on social media.
Depending on the type of product or service you provide, you can maintain different self-service resources – tutorials, knowledge base, FAQs. The key thing is to make sure they are updated regularly and contain answers to the popular questions you are getting via social media and social networks.
Measure your social media customer support performance
Your social media is another customer support channel, in addition to email, live chat, and ticket system. Include it in your customer support performance measurements and evaluate how successful it is.
The methods and techniques are traditional – reach out to customers for feedback to gauge their satisfaction. A high customer satisfaction rate is an important component of your success, as it means you retain your existing customers and may have more – 71% of your users will recommend your business if they had a “great experience”.
You can also track other metrics, such as the average response time or the net promoter score. The knowledge you get from them will help you improve your customer service and detect problems quickly.
Take your customer service where your customers are
The number of social media users is growing steadily, which means that your existing and prospective customers are very likely to be there already. An average user spends about 2.5 hours on social media every day, and it is up to you to carve some of that time for your business.
Be visible and proactive online, and you will get lots of satisfied customers!
About the Author
Julia Serdiuk is an outreach specialist at HelpCrunch, an innovative platform to build relationships with customers. She is a seasoned traveler and yoga enthusiast. Appreciates life and believes in the cloudless future of our planet.