Social media platforms are among the best sources for lead generation and brand awareness. Yet, businesses and entrepreneurs often overlook the value of using them for customer service.
Connecting with customers through their preferred communication methods tends to result in greater satisfaction. Most consumers are already using social media to reach out to companies so it’s a no brainer that you should be as well! One study found that about half of all social media users have used these platforms to contact businesses.
Whether you are already active & knowledgeable with social media, or you have no idea whatsoever how to navigate it, this article will break down the key things you need to know.
So let’s find out how to leverage the power of social media to gain and retain more customers..
Why Use Social Media for Customer Service?
Many businesses use email, phone, and online chat to communicate with customers. While these methods are effective, social media offers so many more additional advantages:
- 24/7 customer service
- Better reputation management
- Access to useful metrics
- Greater overall convenience
Customers may not be able to reach your business via phone or online chat outside of standard business hours. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms are available 24/7 to view.
Social media is also the most common platform for customers to share their views on products or services. Actively monitoring your social presence provides better reputation management. You can quickly respond to both positive and negative comments so you stay ahead of the competition.
Social media is also a more convenient option for your customers. As most people already use social media daily to communicate, you can connect with customers on their preferred platforms. Emails, text messages, and phone calls can often go ignored, as people are bombarded with messages every day. Yet, a notification from their favorite social media channel is more likely to grab their attention.
So, how can you use social’s to deliver better customer service? Below are seven tips for increasing the effectiveness of your business strategy.
1. Respond to Comments in a Timely Fashion
If you plan on responding to comments on social media, respond quickly. As with any communication channel, customers expect swift responses to their inquiries. A consumer survey found that about 42% of consumers expect responses within an hour.
Assigning certain employees to monitor & respond to comments can help you deliver quicker responses. Small businesses and entrepreneurs may not always be able to monitor social media 24/7, though. Additionally, not all comments are sent directly to your social media profiles. Some customers may simply mention your business in a public post without tagging your profile.
Using a brand tracking tool allows you to receive notifications whenever your business is mentioned on social media. Hootsuite and TweetDeck are a couple of the most popular tools for tracking social mentions. After receiving a notification, you can craft an appropriate response as soon as possible.
2. Address Complaints Through Private Messages
The next challenge is determining whether to respond to comments publicly or privately. Complaints & negative feedback should typically be addressed privately. Try to resolve customer complaints through direct messages to keep the situation between just you & the client instead of going back and forth publicly.
Public responses can bring increased attention to the customer’s initial comments. This may lead to follow-up comments from other customers with the same issues. Send the customer a message letting them know that you would be happy to resolve their issue via email, phone, or direct message.
Always start by thanking the customer for their input & restate their complaint to show that you are actively listening. Follow up by offering support and a swift resolution to their problem. You also have to decide on how far you will go to rectify customer complaints. Some situations may warrant a full refund while others may be satisfied with a gift card or discount on a future purchase/service.
Whether the customer accepts or rejects your proposed resolution, it’s always important that you do the best you can to try to make it right. You can’t obviously please everyone, but we gotta give it our best shot. Just being understanding & kind goes a long way, which most customers will at least appreciate.
You can also ask if there is anything that your business could do to increase their satisfaction, such as replacing or refunding the product. You may be surprised (in a good way) at the outcome of simply asking.
3. Use Hashtags Sparingly and Strategically
Hashtags help users navigate social media content and find relevant posts or tweets. Using hashtags can also help with customer service by making it easier for customers to find helpful information they can actually use.
For example, you can use hashtags for posts about product updates, recalls, or tutorials. Adding the right hashtags helps customers find answers to their questions without needing to contact customer support right away.
Bare in mind though, hashtags are useful but adding too many can have a negative effect. Posts that contain dozens of hashtags appear unnatural, distracting, and spammy. Try to limit yourself to two or three hashtags per post on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags but should still avoid using more than a few.
4. Establish a Dedicated Profile for Customer Support
Create a dedicated social media handle for customer support instead of using the same handle used for marketing. This helps reduce the number of customer interactions visible to the public, as more customers will submit inquiries directly to customer support.
Your business may also have separate marketing & customer service departments. Giving each department a separate social profile helps keep their duties and responsibilities separate as well. Using separate profiles also helps filter customer support issues from general comments on your main profile.
Keep in mind that customers will still attempt to contact customer support through your primary social media profiles. You should continue to actively monitor both sets of profiles for customer support issues to avoid overlooking any inquiries.
5. Respond to Feedback, Comments, and Questions
Effective customer service requires a proactive approach. Instead of waiting for complaints, respond to all types of comments involving your business or brand. Customers may use social media to ask questions, provide feedback, or simply praise your products or services. So keep an eye!
Responding to all types of comments demonstrates that you truly value your customers’ thoughts. Simply thanking customers for positive responses to a product or service may drive customer retention rates and lead to increased loyalty.
Monitor social media posts for all mentions of your business. As mentioned, you can use software or an online tool to track online mentions and receive notifications. Along with using a tracking tool to monitor complaints and negative reviews, you can track questions and positive comments.
6. Grow Your Customer Advocacy Base
Having a solid customer advocacy base is one of your best defenses against negative online reviews. The best way to fight negativity is with positivity. Always try to find a solution when a customer posts a negative response publicly.
Unfortunately, you cannot please everyone & some negative reviews and comments may remain online indefinitely. Avoid deleting negative comments posted on your social media channels, even as tempting as that may be.
Your customer advocacy base provides a way to deal with the negative comments that you cannot get rid of. That also includes loyal customers that do not hesitate to advocate for your business when someone attacks it.
When a devoted customer sees a negative comment related to one of your products or services, they may offer suggestions to the customer or post their own positive experience. These interactions help overshadow the negativity.
7. Develop Guidelines for CRM on Social Media
Create a set of instructions that outline how you want staff to deal with customer interactions on social media. Consider each of the strategies discussed and how you plan on responding to customers. Establishing guidelines allows you to provide much-needed consistency. It also makes it easier to analyze your strategies to find areas for improvement.
Having simple things like templates for dealing with common issues can make it that much easier for your staff to handle things seamlessly.
If everyone goes off script, it becomes harder to learn what works and what doesn’t. Use templates & standardized greetings to provide a uniform response to customer complaints or questions.
Grow Your Loyal Customer Base
Entrepreneurs and small businesses alike need a social media presence to help build their brands and reach a wider audience. However, it’s also a really valuable tool for customer service.
To successfully resolve customer complaints on any platform, remember to:
- Respond quickly to all complaints
- Acknowledge the customer’s complaint
- Attempt to resolve complaints privately
- Send a follow-up message to show continued support
Along with providing a way to address complaints, social media allows you to address all types of inquiries, feedback, and praise. Consider using tools to monitor mentions of your brand on all channels.
Remember that there are real people behind those likes and comments, people who can convert into customers and produce great value for your business. If someone posts a comment under one of your posts and you never respond back to that person, it can easily alienate them from your company.
In the end, social media allows you to be more interactive and responsive with your customer service. Use this to your advantage to grow a loyal customer base.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.