Gone are the days when customers had the patience to wait on phone calls or emails for customer service requests. “Social care” has replaced these outdated forms of customer support channels.
Today, social media is the most prominent and powerful customer service tool. Studies reveal that 80% of consumers use social media to engage with brands. Also, solving an issue on social media is much cheaper than a call center interaction. Hence, social care seems to be a perfect win-win for both businesses and consumers.
That said, customer service on social media can be tricky. Since it is a space that is open to the public, one small mistake can cost you lots of new customers and lead to a bad online reputation for your business. Moreover, handling trolls and negative backlash on social media can put your brand in a spot.
In this brief guide on social media customer service, let’s look at the importance of doing so, along with some top best practices that you must follow.
Why is Social Media Important For Customer Service?
Social media indeed is very important for customer service and will be in the upcoming years. This is because a vast majority of your customers are already on social media. Hence, building a strong online presence and enabling the free exchange of issues and feedback can be extremely beneficial.
Moreover, since social media channels are open to the public, using them for customer service can be a great way to improve brand affinity and build a positive online reputation. You can build a loyal customer base by taking up social media customer service more seriously.
Through social media customer service, you can let your customers know that you are there for them at all times. This is of immense help in building trust with the audience and winning over their loyalty for a long time.
Best Practices to Provide Excellent Customer Service on Social Media
Now that you know how important it is to use social media networks for customer service, let’s look at some of the best practices that you must follow. These will help you have a more strategic approach to building social media customer service while building a positive online reputation for your business.
1. Choose the Right Social Media Channels
Before anything else, it is crucial that you pick the right channels for customer service. If you pick the wrong channels, then you might end up wasting most of your resources while offering ineffective customer service.
Hence, monitor your customers’ online presence and pick a social media platform that your customers are most likely to hang out on. Usually, Facebook and Twitter are the most prominent and widely used channels for customer service. You can also monitor your competitors to see the customer service channels that they rely on.
2. Set up Brand Monitoring
Setting up brand monitoring on social media platforms is one of the first steps you must follow. This will help you have a proactive approach to customer service on these platforms. You can use brand monitoring tools for this.
You can set up streams to identify any posts or content with your brand name. You can set up streams for both positive and negative words with your brand name.
3. Create Dedicated Customer Support Handles on Social Media Platforms
Another great idea for offering more effective customer service on social media platforms is to have dedicated customer support channels. You can create Facebook pages, or Twitter handles that are specific to customer support.
This will make it easier for your customer support team to sift through issues and queries. By having dedicated customer support handles, you can separate your content marketing from customer service.
Moreover, having dedicated customer service pages or handles will also be of great help to your customers. They will be able to go through older requests and queries with ease. Having a handle specific for customer support will also assure your customers that your team is there to tend to their complaints and queries.
4. Make Response Times a Priority
Compared to other customer service channels, the expectations with social media is quite high amongst customers. With social media as a customer service channel, customers expect much quicker responses and resolution times. Therefore, it is crucial that you make response time an absolute priority.
Even if you do not offer quick resolutions, it is vital that you acknowledge the customer query and assure them that your team is on it. Late responses may lead to negative backlash from customers, negative reviews, and a bad reputation for your brand.
One of the best ways to handle social media customer service requests in the quickest and most efficient way possible is to set up an internal system where responsibilities are shared amongst the team. Specific types of queries can be taken up by specific team members. This way, the response times will be drastically reduced, and queries will be handled more efficiently.
5. Be More Specific and Personal With Your Responses
This is a common mistake made by many brands – copying and pasting the same responses to all customer queries and complaints, irrespective of the needs of the customers.
Customer service is at the heart of any business and plays a major role in determining the customer retention rate and lifetime value. Hence, it is important to take special care while responding to requests, especially on social media channels where everything is open for everyone else to see.
It is crucial that your customer service responses be more personalized and specific. Generic responses will lead to unhappy customers and increased customer churn.
So, ensure that your customer support team acknowledges requests and queries with responses that are more specific. For example, if a customer is struggling to use your product, you can guide them and offer in-app assistance with the help of digital adoption platforms such as one of the Applearn competitors.
You can make the responses more personal by stating the first name of the customers. Another great way to make the responses more personal is to use the first name of the customer support person. This way, your customers will associate responses with a real person instead of a brand. This instills confidence in the customer that an actual customer service representative is looking into their request. This ultimately makes the customers less agitated and more patient.
6. Always Take an Optimistic, Customer-First Approach
Just like in the case of any other customer service channel, positivity is crucial in social media as well. In fact, negative and pessimistic responses may hurt your brand’s online reputation and affect your business.
Many requests that you receive on social media may not be customer support complaints. Instead, they may simply be trolls and people unnecessarily talking bad things about your brand. Even in such cases, it is important to tread with caution and not resort to negative responses or trolling back.
Always taking a customer-first approach will be of immense help. No matter whose fault it is, you must be apologetic in your responses. You must also ensure that you end your responses on an optimistic note assuring the customer that you are doing your best to resolve the issue.
It is also important to be transparent with your responses on social media. Instead of resorting to false promises, you should let the customers know about what exactly is going on behind the scenes. Stating the accurate resolution time beforehand will also help.
7. Create an Internal System For Social Media Customer Service
As mentioned above, trolls and negative backlash are common on social media platforms. Hence, it is crucial that your customer support team is well equipped to handle all kinds of comments in the best way possible.
Creating an internal system of guidelines and SOPs can be very helpful. You can create specific guidelines along with templates for the customer service team. You should brief your team on how they are supposed to handle each and every kind of request that they may receive.
For creating these templates and guidelines, you can go through the social media comments for your brand or your competitors. This way, you’ll have a fair idea of what type of issues your team should expect and what type of responses are the best fit for each of these types of queries.
Having an internal system will help you build a strong positive online reputation for your brand. Your team will handle requests quicker and more efficiently. Moreover, you can also avoid feeding trolls and other unnecessary comments. You can rest assured that you are in for fewer surprises since you are already prepared for all kinds of social media comments.
8. Take Conversations Off Social Media Whenever Necessary
As discussed earlier, every conversation you have on social media will be open to the public. Hence, it is very important not to be reckless with the things that you put out. Not all conversations are meant to be open to the public. You must ensure that you educate your team on the same so that they can take the conversations to a private platform.
For example, sometimes, you may need the customer’s personal information for the resolution of the complaint. In such cases, it is not wise to ask for personal information on public platforms. In such cases, your team should take the conversation private by connecting through private DMs or emails.
Sometimes, customer support conversations may get heated up, and it is not wise to resolve these issues on public platforms. Instead, your team should take the conversation private and ensure that the customers’ service request is resolved.
9. Respond to Every Feedback and Comment That you Receive
One of the worst possible scenarios in social media customer service is not responding to customers’ comments. Unfortunately, we can see many brands doing this. Social media is an important customer service channel because it instills confidence in your customers as well as your people who are wanting to turn into your customers.
When your team doesn’t respond to comments, people will perceive your brand in a different light. This may lead to increased customer churn. Also, people who are considering taking up your products or services may refrain from doing so after a negative experience with your social media handles.
10. Track Important Metrics and Constantly Improve
As with anything else, it is vital that you measure and track the customer service offered by your brand on social media. Tracking and measuring important metrics will help you consistently improve your customer service. This will lead to better customer retention, increased customer loyalty, and higher brand awareness.
You can start by identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will help you keep track of your customer service efforts on social media platforms. Common metrics you can use are average response time, number of resolved issues, response rate, first contact resolution, customer retention rate, customer churn, etc.
You can also use sentiment analysis tools to understand and gauge the overall sentiment of social media users towards your brand and the customer support that you offer. Consistently tracking these metrics will help you make an effort to improve on them. This will work great for your business’s profitability and brand reputation.
11. Consider Using AI Chatbots for Social Media Customer Service
Adopting AI for customer service can be another effective way to handle social media requests more efficiently. You can consider employing AI chatbots that will respond immediately to customers’ comments on social media platforms.
AI chatbots can respond to customer service responses 24/7, so you do not have to worry about slower response times. Chatbots can even offer resolutions to common FAQs and complaints that are easy to resolve. For complex questions, the chatbot can provide the initial acknowledgment so that the customer is at ease that your team is working on resolving the issue.
Social media is easily accessible and used by the majority of your customers. Therefore, handling customer service on social media can be one of the best ways to offer quick, more efficient, and budget-friendly support to your customers.
Since social media platforms are open to the public, things can easily get reckless and go south. Hence, it is vital that you follow certain guidelines and best practices to turn things around and make the best use of social media as a customer service channel. The tips and strategies offered in this guide will help you with just that.
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.