Customer service is definitely not what it used to be. Thanks to the interconnected world we live in, businesses are able to right their wrongs, and please their customers better and faster than ever before.
This goes for everything from fixing shipment issues, to unexpected travel changes, as well as correcting wrong sizes, or gadget glitches. Consumers can now get the answer to pretty much any customer service issue from their smartphone or tablet.
One of the biggest reasons this is possible is the growing use of social media customer service. Companies aren’t having users contact hotlines or send emails anymore.
Instead, they’re creating an open line of communication between support personnel, and real people who use all kinds of products. It’s a conversation you need to be a part of if you’re not doing so already.
Here’s a closer look at how customer service works via social media.
What is Social Media Customer Service?
If you haven’t caught on yet, social media customer service is the practice of offering customer support on social channels. It’s something companies all over the world are doing to facilitate more efficient lines of communication and create innovative customer service solutions.
You may not have noticed how big a trend this is already but using social media to solve customer service issues is already happening thousands of times a day.
Airlines are answering unhappy customers and restaurants are giving their audience a seat at the support table via social conversations. Clothing companies are celebrating their loyal shoppers, even tech companies are jumping on board.
Everyone’s doing it, and for plenty of good reasons.
The Reasons Why Social Media Support Works
Whatever happened to picking up the phone and calling someone, whether to make a product complaint or say hello to a friend? Why is writing an email to a customer service account not as appealing as sending out a Tweet to an entire company?
These things are still being used by companies and consumers alike to solve customer service issues, but many argue that social media is still the best option.
The following are a few simple reasons why social media servicing works so well.
The thing about calling a hotline is that a consumer is likely going to end up on hold with elevator music or silence. They might also be received by an automated voice message machine, which can only do so much to solve a problem.
People want their problems solved as fast as possible. They want to feel like they’re a valued customer. More so, they need to know they can count on you, or else they’re going to start looking for some other company to fulfill their needs.
Social media helps you be fast and efficient. It gives you the chance to sympathize with consumers, let them know you’ve heard them, and start working towards a solution.
Think about it, it’s much easier to respond to a handful of tweets than to dig through incoming customer service emails. The same thing goes for responding to negative Facebook reviews, or writing a quick response to a service-related Instagram direct message.
It’s one thing to be fast, and quite another to get straight to the point. Think about how many times you’ve been the consumer with some sort of service need, and a company has given you the run-around. Doesn’t feel too good, does it?
You can pretty much guarantee this won’t happen within your own customer service department when you use social media customer service. This is because you only have so many characters to work with on Twitter, and so much time to respond to everyone on Facebook and Instagram. It’s in your best interest, and your consumers’, to be straightforward.
Plus, you’re more able to give direct answers when consumers give direct summaries of their experience. It’s almost like there’s an unwritten rule to keep things short and simple when taking customer service to social media. Use it your advantage.
It’s Great for Your Brand
Speaking of using social media customer service to your advantage, think about how good it makes your brand look. Seriously, every time you solve a customer service issue through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you’re doing it on a stage for all to see.
This can’t happen via email or phone calls. It’s not possible for other users to know what someone else is going through in such situations, or how well you’ve responded to their needs. With social media though, every part of the service process is transparent.
Other consumers are able to see what someone has come to you for, and how well you’ve stepped up to solve their issue. This can create quite the buzz when you really hit the nail on the head, which does wonders for your brand image and overall digital reach.
Who knows, just one genius social media customer service solution may make your company go viral! How’s that for a marketing campaign and a satisfactory customer experience?
How to Improve Your Social Customer Service
Before you get carried away with viral dreams or becoming the next big thing within your industry, you have to focus on the basics. Yes, social media and customer service go hand in hand, but only when you know how to best merge them.
Maybe you’ve taken a shot at using social customer service already, or you’re just starting to consider this tool. Either way, you’ve got to be sure you’re doing it right.
Keep these tips in mind while starting and building on your social media customer service efforts.
Be Where Your Consumers Are
Which social channel does your company get the most interactions on? Are you constantly getting new Instagram followers, or does your Facebook seem to get the most traffic? How many Tweets are you mentioned in every day?
These are questions worth asking yourself from the get-go. You can’t expect to “set up shop” for your customer service social media campaign if you’re not in the right location. In other words, it does no good for you to be building your Instagram presence if your audience is more active on Twitter.
Go where your consumers are and let them know you’ve arrived. Create social media posts based entirely on your customer service and tell them you have a team ready to answer any questions a customer may have.
Better yet, start using social media as a platform to display customer service wins you’ve already achieved. Share amazing testimonials to show how much you care and wait for customer service inquiries to come your way.
It won’t take long before customer service needs start piling up on your main social media account, and the other channels you use too. In fact, you may realize you’ve done a bit of social media support already without even noticing, considering how much of our lives this tool has become.
This is just one reason why you have to make monitoring a key part of your social customer service management. Monitoring allows you to prioritize users’ needs based on when each person sent in a request and how much support they’re asking for.
It gives you a big picture of what’s going on with the orders you’ve sent out, the new products you’ve launched, and the user experience as a whole.
To be sure you’re doing the best monitoring that you can, look for a full-scale social media support program that can help you. Something like a reputation management tool or a 24/7 remote team can significantly improve how well you keep an eye on everything.
Create a Solid System
It’s one thing to be aware of all the customer support issues going on, and another to give each issue its due diligence. The best way to approach each problem is by having some sort of response system in place.
More than that, you have to be able to tell the high-priority service requests from ones that may just be someone asking for a freebie or making a big deal out of a minor issue.
When it comes to the latter however, remember that some people really do care about small mistakes. Be careful of overlooking something that seems minor to you but is a deal-breaker for a consumer.
Personalize Your Responses
While it’s good to have a system for doing things, you can’t make it too concrete. It’s better to leave room for personalization and being creative about customer service solutions.
Personalization in terms of social media support means anything from addressing users by name to changing your tone to match theirs. This means being professional when someone is formal or knowing when to crack a joke if there’s a bit of sarcasm to a user’s tone. Meet users where they are, then speak their language.
Keep a Proactive Mindset
Another thing to consider about social media customer service is that sometimes it’s better to own up to mistakes before you have multiple users coming to you about them. Be mindful of your shortcomings, and don’t be afraid to talk about them online.
A customer service approach like this shows accountability and encourages trust. It tells users you really are always thinking of them and working to fine-tune who you are and what you do.
Have Fun with Your Audience
Here’s something you may not have considered yet: customer service can be fun. Yes, you read that right. Righting wrongs isn’t always about calming down angry customers or getting through one situation, so you can move on to the next.
Sometimes, it’s about turning a bad experience into a fun memory. This can be by cracking a joke, as previously mentioned, or with something much bigger. Don’t be afraid to use memes, create your own pictures, or even come up with a witty hashtag when answering customer service problems online.
This works in your favor more than you might think. Not only will you make a less-than-satisfied customer happy, but you’ll put a lasting smile on their face.
Do the Unexpected
If you really want to have some fun with your audience, do the unexpected. Go above and beyond what the problem at hand is and fix it ten times over.
For instance, what if an airline passenger that booked their ticket through your third-party service misses their connection due to a delay? Or if a user jokingly tags you in a bold request? Give the passenger a free ticket to a destination of their choice and consider fulfilling this brave user’s desire if you can.
This is the secret ingredient to social media customer service. When you match quality care with a little imagination, amazing things happen.
Make Sure Your Efforts Are Sustainable
Whether you’re sending a user on an expense-paid spa day or meeting someone at the airport with a full meal, you have to make sure your social media support efforts are sustainable. You can’t just give free things to everyone who has a problem. It wouldn’t be sustainable for your business and, over time, it would lose its touch with your audience.
You have to find the sweet spot between the solid system mentioned above and the opportunity to have a little fun. Create your big customer service moments when they’re available to you, but not at the expense of your business’s budget or overall productivity.
Use Social Media to Please Customers, Boost Sales, and More
Social media about much more than content marketing alone. It’s an incredible branding tool when used correctly, especially when you know how to do things like social media customer service or create lead generation campaigns from these channels.
This is a lot to handle on your own, though, which is why we’re here. Our team of digital marketing efforts is ready to handle the ins and outs of your social media strategy so that you don’t have to. Let us handle your social support and overall engagements while you worry about other aspects of your business.