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5 Essential Elements of Social Media Customer Service and Why You Need Them

May 18, 2017

If your business isn’t active on social media, it needs to be.

 

Seventy-four percent of consumers use social networks to help them make purchasing choices. This study of more than 23,000 online consumers who interact with companies via social media found that 67% of these interactions were for customer service reasons.

 

What can we conclude from this? Firstly, that the impression you leave on social media is crucial to influencing your customer to buy. Secondly, if people are seeking you out on social media, it is most likely for service rather than for an interest in your marketing.

 

So why do customers choose social media instead of the traditional phone call or email? Convenience is the answer. In today’s fast-paced society, consumers don’t want to waste their valuable time on hold to speak to customer service. Forty-two percent of customers who reach out through social media expect a response within 60 minutes. While social media hasn’t yet replaced the telephone or email, it is quickly becoming one of the main forums customers use.

 

Keeping this in mind, how can you best use social customer service to benefit your business? Here are some strategies for you to consider:

 

1. Consistently monitor your social media pages and respond to customer inquiries ASAP

Keep your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. pages open and refresh them as often as possible. Since customers expect a response within 60 minutes or less, you will want to check frequently for any inquiries or comments, as well as direct messages. You can keep most social customer service conversations public—customers who are leery of buying online or from your company will gain confidence that your brand can be trusted when they see proof of great customer service. Any inquiries that require follow up or that involve personal information (tracking numbers, payment information, or account details, to name a few possibilities) should be moved to direct message if it is available. If direct message is unavailable (for example, on Instagram), ask the customer to send the information to you through email and make sure that the proper follow up is provided. Be sure to post your hours of availability on your pages so that customers will not be frustrated if they reach out to you outside of business hours and need to wait for a response. You will also want to have a link to your website posted so that they can look there for more information.

 

2. Be proactive

Show your customers that you have an ear to the ground for their needs and that you truly care. It is one thing to respond to a customer, but finding customer issues and resolving them before the customer complains provides a high level of service. For example, you can search for your business name on Twitter and bring up conversations that are about you but aren’t directly tagging you. You may also Google search your business name and keywords to bring up relevant posts (i.e.: your business name + review). If you find positive comments or discussions, it is courteous to thank them for their words. If you find a situation that needs addressing, you are able to solve the problem and impress your customers with your thorough attention.

 

A different way of being proactive is by preventing customer complaints through social media in the first place. You can effectively reach your followers with important messages that may have an impact on your service. For example, you can tweet and post on Facebook that you are closing early due to inclement weather before the customer shows up and leaves upset. This kind of gesture changes the framework of the customer service conversation into a positive one rather than always doing damage control.

 

3. Make it personal

Although customers expect quick responses, they do not want to be given a cookie-cutter or thoughtless answer. When space permits, use the customer’s name and sign off with your own. (Note that initials are acceptable on Twitter due to character limits). Ensure that your responses match the tone of the person reaching out—it’s appropriate to be more casual with social media than you would in email.

 

4. Surprise and delight

Sometimes it is beneficial to go above and beyond good customer service when addressing concerns on social media. Many companies have had random acts of kindness for customers go viral—this is the kind of attention you want drawn to your brand. See the example here of what Lego did for a little boy who lost his toy. While it is not feasible to offer free product to everyone who asks, from time to time you may wish to do something special for your followers to see.

5. Know when to ignore someone or delete a post

Although you definitely want your customers to see you turning upset customers around, there are times when it is necessary to end the conversation before it starts. Social media is an excellent way to reach a lot of people, but this can backfire when your customers are exposed to posts or comments that are inappropriate or insulting. Be sure to delete posts or comments that are belligerent to other customers, use foul language, or are discriminatory in any way. These people likely cannot be turned around anyways and are using social media as a way to vent and spread negativity for their own enjoyment.

 

While it reflects poorly on the company to ignore posts directed at you, if you are socially sleuthing and come across someone that repeatedly complains despite multiple attempts on your end to make things right, you can let it go. Some customers will become more annoyed if you reach out to them too many times asking if you can assist them, especially if these are conversations that are going on in the background and not on your pages.

 

 

The more you reliably interact with customers socially, the more likely your other followers are to reach out in the same way. You will develop a rhythm and a style that works for you and helps you to address all inquiries efficiently and effectively— and your customers will trust your brand as one that offers comprehensive and conscientious social service.

 

Written by:

Jaimie VanAmerongen

Book Depot Marketing Team

 

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