Building a great relationship with your customers is essential for a successful business. In today’s world ignoring the effectiveness of including social media in your business plan would cripple your success significantly. However, using social media in ways that are not well thought out and intentional can turn off current and potential customers as a result.
As social media continues to rise in popularity among ways to best promote, manage, and advertise businesses and brands, entrepreneurs, managers, and independent contractors are sharing all the ways that they use these platforms to achieve their goals. Great customer service can make or break your company’s reputation and with the large outreach and accessibility that social media provides you must stay at the top of your game when handling inquiries, complaints, compliments, and requests from potential, current, and former customers.
Pick the Best Platform
There are so many social media platforms that exist it can be a challenge to keep up. Not to mention these platforms flow in and out of trendiness with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Instead of constantly chasing the carrot, spend your time learning about what each platform has to offer and making a concerted effort to then determine where to start. You do not need to launch multiple social media accounts at the same time for your brand, and a false start can prevent users who saw what was basically your rough draft from returning once you have worked out the bugs.
What is most important to focus on here is where your customers are. If you do not know the answer to this question, a simple one question email survey can provide you with enough data to analyze to know where to start. As it pertains to customer service, having a Twitter account, for example, might not be helpful to your customers who are primarily Instagram users when they are seeking resolutions and communication from your team. Knowing where your customers are can also be helpful in terms of SEO. Understanding the habits of your existing customers can teach you how to optimize for new ones and ultimately rank higher with intent SEO.
Use Support Tools
You cannot sit in front of your social media feed all day staring at a screen waiting and waiting for a customer communication to come into your inbox. And even if you could, this is not an efficient use of your time. Instead, take advantage of tools that are available to help with monitoring social media mentions so that you can prioritize your responses and also create visibility for places that people are talking about your business or product outside of your website or social media accounts.
At a certain point collecting and analyzing this data is going to be too much for one, or even a team, of people to manage. Look into software dedicated specifically to monitoring mentions so that you #1 do not miss anything and #2 do not have to employ a 24/7 team to do so. Bringing in software tools can also help you with other automated customer service tasks like initial responses that messages have been received which is helpful to manage customer expectations and display a genuine investment on your end from the get-go.
Respect the Clock
Speed might not be the single most important best practice in other areas of customer service, but regarding social media specifically, it trumps everything else. When people reach out for support typically they are in the midst of an unexpected issue with your product or service and are at a minimum looking for confirmation that their request was received. If that request goes unresolved, or even worse, unanswered you are putting yourself at risk for a social media blast with the musings of a highly unsatisfied customer. Since social media is based around live feeds this creates a different expectation of time in peoples’ minds and it is important that the team you set in place to handle the influx of issues is attentive to and aware of these expectations.
Set the Right Tone
Handling customer service over the phone gives both you and your customer the advantage of being able to hear each other’s voices, tone, and conversational intent. This is lost in the social media space. Here customers have only your written word to infer your tone from, with the exception of punctuation and the occasional emoji. A best practice for setting the right tone is to match the tone of each specific customer. People want their interactions to have a humanized aspect to them and firing off stock phrases takes away from the personal touch so many people appreciate in conflict resolution specifically.
Have a Dedicated Handle
Creating a handle that is exclusively for customer service benefits both you and the customers in many ways. For one, it can cut down on the possibility that an issue goes unresolved or unnoticed by funneling all similar communications to one place. Secondly it ensures that you are assigning the right team member to monitor the right types of incoming public messages. Keep in mind that people are also creatures of habit and if someone is already familiar with your main account they might continue to submit their issues there. When this happens having a separate team in place means that you can quickly and efficiently shift that customer to the proper account to service their needs.
Pay attention to the complaints, feedback, and inquiries you are receiving and use the proper tools to track the similarities between them. If you are receiving a high volume of messages that all circle around one common topic, that is a sign that you might consider getting in front of the problem moving forward. A FAQ section on your website, and link to it on your social media accounts is a great practice for customer service because it puts control back in the hands of the consumer and gives them the ability to solve their own problems whenever possible.
Know When and How to Take Things Offline
We have all seen the message threads on social media that have grown to such a lengthy chain that everyone has lost sight of the original issue. Knowing when, and how, to take customer service issues offline is an important best practice. One of the best, and more tricky things, about social media is that it is incredibly easy for anyone and everyone to engage. The last thing you want is a representative from your account or page getting involved in a multi message ambush with tons of users online. Many platforms have their own specific versions of private messaging making it easy for your customer to shift from a public chat to a private one to get their issue resolved. Follow the cues from each specific customer to determine the best medium for communication and do not be afraid to use traditional methods like phone and email for those who prefer it.