It is easy to look at social media and see it only as a fun distraction. However, as a small business owner, you should be looking at social media as an incredibly powerful platform for sharing content that amplifies your expertise with others.
You may also want to consider using social media as a customer service tool to further engage with and serve your customers. Haven’t considered it? Perhaps even laughing at the idea? Well, let us explain why it is not such a bad idea and give you some tips on how to nail your social media customer service strategy.
Social Media Customer Service: Yay or Nay?
According to data from Sprout Social, social media is the most popular channel through which customers seek support with 34.5 percent of people preferring it over all others.
That said, did you know that most businesses have done a pretty poor job of using it to handle customer service inquiries? Sprout found that, on average, only 11 percent of customers are responded to on social media. That is bad, bad business. If you are wondering why (and we are a little concerned if it’s not obvious), this stat should be considered: 88% of people surveyed say they are less likely to buy from a company if they saw that they left customer questions unanswered on social media.
So, the choice to provide customer service via our social media channels may not actually be a choice we make as business owners. Instead, it looks as though it’s going to become a necessity demanded by our customers.
Knowing this, you may want to start thinking today about how to create an effective social media customer service plan for your business and then slowly work it into your business process.
12 Tips for Kicking Ass at Social Media Customer Service
We all know that customer service can make or break a business. So, let’s look at what it takes to create become truly great at providing social media customer service to your repertoire.
1. Use a Dedicated Team
You should have a team dedicated specifically to handling customer support across all channels to ensure consistent and comprehensive coverage. However, you should still use your social media manager to monitor these channels to weed out the noise. Conversocial says that only 50% of messages on social media are worth looking at and, typically, about 10% deserve a response.
2. Staff Accordingly
Just like you would with any other customer support channel, ensure you have extra coverage during peak times, days, and holidays.
3. Monitor Your Most Active Platforms
If you are like most businesses, you are using multiple social media platforms. Customers tend to use Twitter most often for customer service inquiries, but that doesn’t mean your other channels should go unmonitored. Make sure you are paying close attention to your most active platforms as a priority.
4. Make Software Your Friend
Watching your social media channels specifically for customer service questions and inquiries can be tough. To ease the burden, make software your best friend for social listening. Tools like HootSuite and Mention can help you easily monitor your channels for engagement that needs an immediate response.
5. Watch for Specific Keywords
You should constantly be on the lookout for customer dissatisfaction so you can jump in and try to make things right. You don’t just wait for them to come to you. So, set up your monitoring software to watch for direct mentions, related hashtags, your company name, your products or services, etc. By doing this you can quickly jump in to help resolve issues.
6. Create Canned Messaging
While you want to come off as sounding human and genuine, consistency and careful responses are critical in handling customer service properly. Check out how Dominos handles their always thoughtful, yet consistent responses:
You deserve better than this! Pls DM your email, phone#, & store info so we can help make this right. *TH https://t.co/Cf8BiToVpb
— Domino’s Pizza (@dominos) October 25, 2017
Don’t just send out an automatic response to every customer complaint. Listen to the problem and respond appropriately. (And don’t get defensive!) Tesco does a great job of this:
Can you please DM me your full name, address, email, barcode, supplier code and also a clear copy of your receipt? 2/4
— Tesco (@Tesco) October 25, 2017
8. Balance Public and Private
Always make the first response to a customer issue in public. Just keep it brief and provide clear next steps. Then move the conversation behind the scenes (usually a direct message (DM) is your best choice).
9. Let Customers Interact Where They Want
Don’t try and force customers to another channel simply because it’s more convenient for you. If they reached out on social, you need to respond there. Old Spice has a very bad habit of apologizing and then just giving a phone number:
We are sorry this has happened. Please call us at 1-800-677-7582 so we can learn more about your situation.
— Old Spice (@OldSpice) October 16, 2017
10. Answer Promptly
Your customers expect an answer within hours, not days. JetBlue is in a league of its own when it comes to expedient customer service:
We apologize for the maintenance delay. We’ll have you on your way as soon as possible.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) October 25, 2017
11. Close the Loop
Always ensure that you have resolved all issues and bring the conversation to a close by confirming with your customer that you’ve effectively solved the issue. And don’t forget to thank them for their patronage.
12. Analyze the Data
Collect and analyze the data you’ve gathered from your social media customer service interactions. Are there common problems that continue to arise? If so, what can you do to fix or put a stop them? Could you put together an FAQ or knowledgebase to specifically deal with these issues and outsource/offload some of the customer service work that way?
Social media has given consumers another outlet to get what they want and most users have very clear demands. They expect prompt customer service. They expect a human touch. And they expect a fair resolution.
If their needs aren’t met, their retaliation will be just as swift and clear: don’t answer us and you will lose our loyalty, business, and get a nasty review in response. So, start today to accommodate these customers and if you do it right, you may have a life-long customer and brand ambassador.