Social media is no longer just for viral memes and cat photos — and if you’re a business reliant upon excellent customer service, then using social media to reach and respond to customers is something you won’t want to miss out on. According to a study by J.D. Power, “67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing.” And yet, according to the new data insights by Sprout Social, “89% of social messages go ignored.”
Despite its convenience and widespread usage, businesses are still letting their social media become a missed opportunity when it comes to customer service. However, while providing social media customer service presents a great opportunity, it may also backfire if you are unaware of the best practices in using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms as a means to respond to customer queries and complaints. Below we outline 5 tips on how to improve your social media game and bring your customer service into the future.
- Quick and consistent response is key. The very nature of social media is that it’s quick and always online. If you include your social media as part of your customer service initiative, your customers will expect the same from you — always online and quick to respond. It can be challenging to get there, but it’s an opportunity to provide excellent customer service. According to The Social Habit, 32% of the customers expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% of customers expect a response within 60 minutes. If you wait until the next day – or worse, days – to respond, you’ve already lost some valuable opportunities.
- Add a human element or touch to your social media. Your business’ social media gives you a presence on the wide world of interweb. It’s an opportunity to give a voice and “face” to your brand. When it comes to customer service, your clients would mostly prefer dealing with someone they perceive to be a “real person” as opposed to an impersonal email or recorded voice. Responses via social media can typically be more casual but still remain polished. Tailor your social media script or create a guideline for your social media managers to follow. This guideline should include macros for responses as well as the right tone of voice to use. The goal is to ensure that your customers won’t feel like they’re responding to a bot or automaton while still remaining professional.
- Hire your social media positions carefully or outsource to professionals. When it comes to hiring for social media positions, you might be tempted to hire someone who “knows social media lingo, has several social media accounts or is savvy with Facebook.” Take note however, that someone who knows how to use Snapchat doesn’t necessarily know how to deal with customers. Anytime you give tasks that deal directly with clients, you will need to carefully vet and check them. When it comes to customer service, the right experience, the right know-how and the right attitude are key. Outsourcing companies are a great alternative hiring in-house. Because they’re so specialized, you won’t have to waste any time with training, saving you even more time and money.
- Use CRM software as a tool rather than your main social media manager. The main goal of a branded social media is to create connections and humanize a business or company. If you rely too heavily on CRM software, you run the risk of becoming counter-productive to this goal. This is because while CRM softwares can help you track a client’s history or manage the volume of queries, you will still need human eyes, and more importantly, human interactions, for your social media accounts. Think of how your clients would feel if they only get automated responses from bots. You should instead see your CRM software as a complementary tool instead, helping to integrate all your customer service platforms. At the same time, your social media team should provide the compassionate and personal service that’s so important to all customers.
- Take complaints offline tactfully. It happens; a customer with a complaint can become demanding and irate. Being unable to handle such instances on social media can quickly turn things into a PR nightmare. When dealing with such customers, it’s important to take the conversation into a more private or offline channel like through direct chat , messaging or via phone call. When doing so, make sure you are able to first, pacify the customer and second, make it clear to others who are able to see the conversation that the issue is being resolved.