When customers have a complaint, question, or problem, many turn to social media. This is because social media is low effort, fast, and convenient: customers can leave a short message, it’s easy to find the brand they’re looking for, and all they need is an account on the platform.
If you’re not using social media for customer service, you’re missing out. In fact, around half of customers may have a more favorable view of your brand if you respond to their queries on social media. Nonetheless, simply offering customer service is not enough. To distinguish your brand from the competition, retain customers, and gain referrals, you need to provide an outstanding service.
1. Develop a Customer Service Strategy
Create guidelines for your team to follow when interacting with users on social media. In these guidelines, specify when it’s appropriate for employees to handle the situation themselves and when they should escalate. You can even write some standard responses that team members can use as templates and examples of what to do in a variety of situations.
2. Measure Results
As with every strategy, you need to measure your performance to confirm the tactics you’re employing are bringing you the results you want. Identify what KPIs you’ll use — perhaps customer retention, complaint escalation rate, or number of resolved issues. It’s also worth measuring your strategy qualitatively, such as with customer feedback about how well you’ve resolved an issue. Use all the information to keep improving your customer service strategy.
Measuring your performance can also reveal if you are receiving the same queries or complaints all the time. In the case you receive many of the same questions, you could create content with answers to post on social media, add an FAQ page to your website, or include the information in confirmation emails when customers sign up for your service. If you are receiving the same complaints, you may need to examine how you can change processes at your company.
3. Monitor for Mentions
Sometimes, customers may make a complaint or comment without addressing you directly or even tagging you. If the comment is negative, other users could notice and form a bad impression of your brand. For this reason, it’s important to be on the look out for mentions — which you can do with a social listening tool like Sprout Social. As well as your brand name, it’s worth monitoring words that are likely to be about you. This may include product or campaign names.
4. Decide When You’ll Respond
When you start out on social media, it’s possible to respond to every comment. As your follower count grows, though, this becomes both too difficult and unnecessary. A better approach is to just respond to any comments (both positive and negative) that require a proper answer.
No matter what stage you’re at with your social media strategy, though, you must ignore trolls: negative comments that have no basis in reality or that are just intended to bother you. If possible, delete the comment and ban the user from interacting with your page.
5. Infuse Responses with Your Brand Voice
Everything you do online is part of your branding. You will influence how customers think about you depending on both what you say and how you say it. Whenever you respond to a user for customer service reasons, you need to think about how to use your brand voice — but you also need to strike the right tone.
For instance, your brand voice may typically be upbeat and informal; you may even include humor and emojis in your messages. In many cases, it may be appropriate to use exactly this tone in customer service messages. However, if a customer is upset, you may need to take a more formal tone, although being careful not to lose your brand voice.
6. Personalize Messages
Team members can personalize responses by adding customers’ names and even signing off with their own names or initials. This shows customers both that you see them as individuals and that there’s a human on the other end, rather than a faceless corporation. Plus, customers who want to follow up with their issue and would prefer to talk to someone who is familiar with their situation can ask for the same team member again.
7. Counteract Negativity with Positivity
Negative comments are some of the most difficult to respond to, as you want to maintain a good image for your brand. However, arguing or saying that the customer is wrong is an easy way to turn everyone against you. A better approach is to stay positive: empathize with the customer, apologize, and promise to investigate further.
8. Choose Between Public Comments and Private Messages
If a user leaves a comment that’s visible to everyone (such as a comment on a post or through a tweet), you need to decide if it would be more appropriate to respond publicly or send a private message. The advantage of a public comment is that everyone else sees your response. If the customer is complaining or the issue will take some resolution, though, it may be more appropriate to have a private conversation.
9. Strive to Be Transparent
Only make promises to customers that you’ll be able to keep. If you fail to resolve the issue in the timeframe you promised, you’ll ruin the customer’s trust in your brand. If the issue will take a while to resolve, send the customer updates, explaining what you’re doing.
10. Respond Fast
One of the reasons users prefer social media for customer support is the possibility of instant response times. In fact, 42 percent of customers expect to receive a response within one hour. If you fail to respond in a timely manner, customers may turn to another brand for a solution, tell others about the bad experience, or even post publicly about their disappointment.
If you’re using Facebook for customer service, it’s extra important to respond to direct messages fast, as your response time appears on your page. Maintaining a fast response time will give customers the confidence that they can expect an answer from you soon. Bear in mind that you’ll need to be the one who answers last for Facebook to consider that you’ve responded. For instance, if a customer says “Thanks!” you need to answer with something like “You’re welcome!”
11. Use Chatbots
A chatbot is an excellent solution for times when you’re unable to respond immediately (such as outside business hours) as well as for frequently-asked questions that don’t require live chat. Program your chatbot with the queries you receive the most and appropriate responses to what a customer is likely to say. Since chatbots use AI, they improve as they interact with more users — meaning you continuously improve your customer service.
12. Focus Your Efforts Where Your Customers Are
It’s more difficult to manage your customer service strategy when you’re on multiple social media platforms. The likelihood is there are just a few platforms where the majority of your customers spend their time. It’s best to stick to just these instead of spreading yourself too thin.
13. Consider Creating a Customer Service Account
If you receive a huge number of queries through social media, it may be worthwhile setting up an account dedicated to customer service. Make it clear that the account is for customer service through the page name and bio. For instance, you could add “Support” or “Help” to the end of your brand name. You’ll still receive customer service requests through your regular accounts (and you should still respond to them), but having the separate account should keep you more organized.
14. Contract a Virtual Assistant
To offer outstanding customer service on social media, you need to be active. This means your team needs to spend several hours a day just on social media, which can be difficult to fit around all your other responsibilities. A better solution than dividing your time is to delegate social media tasks to a virtual assistant.
In fact, the right virtual assistant can handle your entire social media strategy. At MYVA360, we have specialist social media management virtual assistants, who can provide your customers with the highest-quality service. Schedule a consultation to receive a 10-percent discount on all our VA services.