During ancient times when the internet was but a fledgeling piece of technology, man relied on archaic ways like the reliable word-of-mouth when looking for reviews about certain consumer products or services before procuring them. If you need to purchase a new television, you ask a relative, a friend or a co-worker to help you make that decision.
These days, things are done differently. There are now a variety of sources where you can look for information to help you make a sound buying decision. But despite this new shopping behaviour, the old word-of-mouth method still lives on albeit taking a more modern approach: through the continuously evolving world of social media.
With people spending a lot of time on the internet, social media has changed human behaviour in such a way that word-of-mouth marketing still lives on through posts that have gained considerable engagement. The difference is the scope has grown massive in size, so it’s not just people we know who influence us in making informed decisions, but also Facebook posts, tweets and online reviews from strangers on social media that tell us where and what to eat, what to buy and even who to vote for.
Internet users spend an average of up to 135 minutes on social media per day, and Facebook still reigns supreme as the most widely used social media platform, at 2.23 billion active users with 1.47 billion of them logging in every day.
This has drawn businesses to utilise the service to their advantage, and at the same time consumers flock to the social networking site to find useful information before making a purchase. Now, social media has turned into a place for business, too. As such, marketers are encouraged to provide an efficient customer care service to help grow their business. Here’s how:
Every business endeavour regardless of function has a higher chance of success if approached with a concrete plan. Having one when establishing social media customer support is critical in making it efficient.
A. Know where your customers are
The first step in creating a social media customer service strategy is to know precisely where across different social media platforms your customers are trying to reach out to you and in what context. The way you can do this is to run a comprehensive audit.
Through this, you will be able to find if more of your customers post questions and complaints on Twitter while sharing photos and tagging your brand on Instagram. Running an audit can help you figure out how to formulate your strategy, which may include hiring a social media customer service professional who can handle all your customer communications.
B. Setting up tools
Once you’ve determined where your customers are connecting with your brand on social media, you will need to figure out how to communicate with them quickly and efficiently when they do it in the future. You can do this with the help of tools like TweetDeck and Conversations to help you customise streams and lists according to your preferred segments and respond to them accordingly.
Building a System
Now that you have a solid strategy, it’s time to execute it through an effective system that’s going to help you achieve your goals of delivering outstanding customer service across social media platforms and boost your brand’s value.
A. Set up monitoring streams
Your streams are going to be crucial in your social listening efforts, so you will need to customise them according to your needs. This allows you to cover all comments, feedback and questions that you need to address.
B. Look for positive and negative comments
A stream that is set up to include a mention of your brand with positive and negative comments can help you know in which areas you are doing well and which ones you need to improve on. Quick tip: include common misspellings of your brand name to cover them in your streams.
C. Respond to questions as soon as possible
Customers who are trying to contact you on social media with a question would want an answer sooner rather than later, so you should also set up a stream that can help you focus on responding to messages quickly.
Majority of Twitter users (72%) expect answers to complaints within an hour, so it would be best to get on with it without delay. Facebook has attempted to speed up response rate by adding a badge on top of profiles as an indication that users are responding promptly to direct messages.
You should set up your stream to include messages that contain your brand name, a question mark and your website URL to help you get to your customers’ queries faster and provide outstanding customer service.
D. Share content regularly
Sharing content on the regular on the company’s blog page boosts the likelihood of your social followers to engage with you about what you are writing about on social media. This may be the responsibility of your content marketing team, but if you’ve been getting a lot of responses on your posts, it would be best to assign a dedicated individual to engage your customers and keep the conversation going.
E. Set up a dedicated channel for support
If you have come to a point where you are addressing a large volume of customer questions and complaints on social media, it may be prudent to create a dedicated social media channel focused on customer support. This is an effective way to separate all the customer service requests from your social media marketing efforts.
Best Social Media Customer Support Practices
In setting a standard that’s going to help you handle all your customers’ concerns, building the best practices is the way to go. Once you’ve firmly ingrained these into your process, you will be able to solve their problems straightaway, while cultivating a positive attitude towards your brand.
A. Stay positive
Always keep things light and positive when engaging customers on social media, unless they make it palpable that they’re joking around with you. In which case, you should avoid sarcasm or humour at least until the issue has been addressed. But despite the tension you may experience, don’t hesitate to show your personality when engaging customers on social media. And once you’ve solved the problem, don’t be afraid to use emojis to let your personality shine and make your customers smile.
B. Be honest
There will be times that you will encounter tough customer complaints that you don’t know how to resolve. While you don’t have to know the answer to everything during your initial response, you need to be is honest about the time it will take to solve the problem.
If you need to go as far as filing a ticket with your production team or you honestly don’t know how long it will take until your service is back up and running, be truthful about it. Your customers will appreciate the honesty more than having to get back to you for the nth time until their issue is resolved.
C. Know when to take it ‘offline’
Some customer issues can be addressed with a quick exchange, but there are times when you will have to take the conversation ‘offline’ to solve them effectively. You may ask your customers to send you a direct message or email if personal information needs to be shared or if the conversation is increasingly getting tense. This takes the discussion out of the public eye and can potentially solve the problem faster.
Reporting and Measuring Success
It is always important to keep track of your engagements and implement ways to measure the number of conversations, the topics you talk about and the sentiment analysis, if possible. All these indicators can help you determine the success rate of your social media customer service strategy.
1. Document tracking of comments and feedback
It is ideal to keep results of qualitative feedback on hand after tracking frequently occurring comments—both positive and negative—in a document. This allows you to determine which aspects of your social media customer support strategy needs to be retained or improved.
2. Quantify your efforts through customer satisfaction surveys
To follow through on your results measuring efforts, you can send a customer satisfaction survey via email and find out if they were happy with the service you have delivered through social media. The data you collect can be used to determine if you need more resources so you can provide more assistance to your customers across different platforms.
Delivering topnotch social media customer service doesn’t seem to be daunting when armed with the fundamentals. When successfully integrated with your social media strategy, you won’t have to seek outsourcing services to achieve your goals. You will now be able to handle all your customers’ concerns in such a way that you not only address them but also leave an impression that will leave them delighted to a point where they even recommend your brand to others. It’s customer service and marketing at its finest.