Whether you are a small startup or a large enterprise, social media is now a common channel for customer service interactions.
The world around us is completely online. People stream news, sports, and entertainment through numerous mobile devices every day. In fact, the majority of customers are now engaging with brands through mobile. The stats are not even close.
Most people now prefer to get their news, business messages, and general information online. So, it makes sense for businesses to find ways to interact with their customers where they are. Most often it begins with people venting or attempting to be heard, but most companies are quickly learning to use social media interactions as a serious customer service tool.
Angry tweets or frustrated Facebook rants are opportunities for companies big or small to provide stellar customer service and either save existing customers or win over potential new ones. And you better have a strategy to deal with customer service on social media.
A recent study shows that negative and positive messages can go viral in minutes if you are not careful. This was certainly the case with companies like Netflix in 2016. It only takes one misstep to create a tidal wave of angry feedback.
Using social media as a new part of your brand's customer service strategy can quickly become fast and easy to implement. And anyone interacting with customers through social media should follow basic customer service protocols. But here are a few quick tips to put into practice great customer service by using social media.
1. Create a Customer Service Account
Everything starts with your strategy. Even if your company is smaller and just getting going, you should not use personal accounts or profiles to interact with customers. And you should definitely segment your own personal social accounts from your business accounts. This will help create some division and protect your reputation from being overwhelmed with complaints.
First, create and use profiles just for responding to customer service complaints and feedback about your products. You can use unique names on Twitter for example, similar to @YourCompanyHelp or @CompanyNameSupport. Fill out these profiles of course with information about the company and with a professional demeanor and appearance.
There are many benefits to keeping your customer service accounts separate from your main corporate accounts. It creates clear lines of communication and allows everyone to focus on the right jobs in front of them. It affects everyone in your company, all the way to the executive boardroom. Ultimately, creating clear customer feedback channels will even keep your own companies CEO from having to field angry customer letters when they cannot find anywhere else to get satisfaction online.
2. Personalize the Experience
Nothing can feel more disingenuous when trying to interact with a company online or attempting to bring attention to an issue than a response that feels prewritten. Did an automated system just receive my question or a customer service individual? If their name is viewable, use it in the response. Personalize the experience, and here is how.
Give them your name and attempt to address what the need or issue is that has created the interaction. Do everything you can to make the customer feel unique in the situation. That means using every character of Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to provide a warm and thoughtful response that includes acknowledging their problem too.
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But unfortunately, there are many examples of businesses going about this the wrong way. Last year, Hyundai motors issued a major recall on their cars without using social media to communicate the message. The result was thousands of upset consumers flocking to their Facebook and Twitter feeds looking for answers, but getting nothing in return.
One of the easiest ways to let your customers know they have reached someone that cares is attempting to create a relationship and show them another human is listening. There are many tools and apps out there that allow you to create a more personalized experience. And that is a very good thing.
3. Act Fast
It's amazing what we can do quickly with our phones. We can pay for things electronically, check up on the funniest videos spreading like wildfire over social media outlets, and interact with people a few miles or several time zones away. That means when it comes to responding to your customers, you need to act fast as well. Doing so can turn an average interaction into an awesome experience, just by moving quickly.
One of the early problems, when customers started reaching out to companies online, was the waiting period between responses. In some cases, customers have reported spending up to five hours waiting on hold on the phone. That means more people are turning to the instant feedback of social media networks.
Many large companies now have live support through their websites that provide chat features with customer service staff, but social media results in a gray area. Social media companies like Instagram are even struggling to keep up with the volume of customer service inquiries. Their community guidelines online simply are enough to manage the thousands of users each day who try to contact the company after encountering problems using the service.
For your company, there might be someone to respond immediately but at times it just is not possible. But at all times when it comes to social media and customer service, speed is key. So, respond to your customers really fast. Even if the response is simply letting the customer know someone has seen their message and who should be getting back to them.
4. Have a Goal
Finally, have a goal with everything you do on social media. And that includes customer service. Respond quickly and make sure that in doing so the issue is resolved or being worked on. Always interact in friendly and professional attitudes and do not get lured into letting customers with aggressive or negative responses create further issues.
Many technology brands like Intel have a sort of guidelines that all employees follow with engaging with customers online. With most social media formats the interactions are all public, so they present great opportunities to not only resolve customer issues but draw attention to win additional customers over.
If the issue happens to be a larger situation that needs to be taken into private messages, emails, or offline, make sure your company makes the effort to respond and address the situation publicly before taking the interaction elsewhere. And always thank your customers for using social media to encourage future interactions when they need assistance.
Using your company's social media pages can become a strong tool for the company's growth and positive feedback when you are able to start providing solid customer service. And learning how to interact with customers online and infusing customer service into your brand's digital strategies will also help retain customers. Ultimately, this will allow the rest of your company to attract more new ones, and do what they do best.