Have you ever spent hours on the phone trying to get through to a customer service representative? Or endlessly clicked through a company's website just trying to find a way to contact them? We’ve all been there and have experience that frustration. That’s why social media customer service has become a preferred channel for customers seeking support.
Social media used to mainly be viewed as a way for companies to gain brand exposure. Now, many consumers use social media as a way to interact with companies, ask questions, and voice concerns.
According to Smart Insights, 4.62 billion people use social media worldwide. That’s more than half of the world. Now more than ever it’s important for your company to not only be active on social media, but to also use it to provide exceptional customer service.
In many ways, social media is similar to other customer support channels, but what makes it unique is that it is public. This can be both good and bad because your online reputation has a large impact on your business.
If managed properly, however, social media customer service provides an exciting opportunity to attract new customers and delight existing ones, all while building a positive brand reputation.
Why do customers reach out on social media?
Customers are more and more frequently turning to social media to ask questions and voice concerns about companies. This often happens for three main reasons:
- They have tried other channels and didn’t receive a response.
- They didn't receive the response they were hoping for initally.
- They want an immediate response.
No matter the case, social media gives your customer support team the opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one and build lasting customer relationships.
How can you provide the best customer service on social media?
Have a Strategy in Place
To boost your company’s social media customer service, it’s important to have a strategy in place. This strategy should be included in your company’s overall social media plan.
According to Statista, 59% of global consumers have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer questions or complaints on social media.
As more and more consumers rely on social media as a customer service channel, not having a strategy in place is no longer an option. If your company doesn’t have time to provide customer service on social media, it's better to not have a social media presence at all. By ignoring comments and questions from customers, you can harm your brand reputation and customer relationships more than you know.
A simple social media customer service strategy could include the following:
- A plan for monitoring mentions, comments, and messages.
- An established brand voice to create consistency amongst responses.
- A protocol for responding to different types of questions and concerns.
- A timeframe in which customers should expect a response.
Consistency is key because customer service is more than just a one-time interaction with a brand or business. Inconsistent interactions can both damage your brand's reputation and be detrimental to maintaining loyal customers.
Your customers want to know that there is actually a human on the other side of a conversation. Your team should add a personal touch to each customer interaction and be themselves while still staying within brand guidelines. Even just a little bit of personalization can go a long way to make people feel heard and valued.
For your customer service to be authentic, it needs to be handled by your internal team. Unlike outsourcing social media content creation, social media customer service should not be outsourced. There are many situations someone external wouldn’t be able to handle, such as questions about a specific order or product.
Being authentic also means admitting when you’re wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. Admitting to mistakes gives companies a valuable opportunity to gain respect and loyalty from their customers. The more honest you are, the more trust you will establish.
When customers have a question or concern, they want it resolved quickly. This is why they probably came to your social account in the first place. Responding promptly gives your company more control of the situation as well. Since social media is public, by giving the problem time to escalate, you can quickly lose control of the situation.
Also, the longer you wait to respond, the less the customer is going to think you care about their concerns. Responding promptly reminds customers that they are the most important part of your business.
Even if you may not have the answer to their problem immediately, you can still acknowledge their issue and show them that you are at least looking into it. Quick responses = more loyal customers.
Public vs. Private Conversations
When you receive a question or concern publicly, it’s important to address that concern publicly as well. This shows other customers that you care. Without a public response, other customers may assume that you are ignoring the concern.
Sometimes, however, issues may involve sensitive information. One example of this would be an order number. In cases like these, you will need to continue the conversation privately through something like a direct message.
If a situation starts to spiral out of control where there's multiple complaints, you want to respond publicly with a private way that everybody can contact you like an email address or a contact form.
Optimize Helpful Tools
Managing your social media customer service doesn't have to be difficult. HubSpot is a great option that offers many tools to make the process seamless. Not only can you use HubSpot to publish social media posts, but you can also easily monitor social media interactions, conversations, and inboxes.
By using HubSpot’s Social Media tool, you can limit the places that you have to go to be able to monitor all your customer service channels by viewing and responding to all of your interactions in one place. HubSpot also allows you to set up monitoring streams to ensure your team to never misses critical interactions.
Hubspot Conversations tool unifies conversations with customers into a shared inbox across email, social media, live chat, and other outlets into one place. You can use this tool to assign specific customer interactions to different team members while prioritizing the most important issues. HubSpot will automatically route chats and messages to the person on your team who is most qualified to provide support.
If your store is powered by Shopify, you can seamlessly connect your HubSpot to pull purchase histories and further centralize your customer service efforts.
When it comes to social media customer service, your customers should always be top of mind. With a strong social media customer service strategy in place, it can be one of the greatest tools to connect with and provide value to your customers.
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