Is Customer Service On Social Media Killing Your Online Presence?
We all know that social media is an excellent place for any business to promote its services, build a loyal audience, strengthen trust and keep customers updated.
However, have you ever thought about the true impact that it has on your business?
How you interact with your social following is crucial, it’s open for all to see and you really don’t have much control over the narrative if negative customer feedback spirals.
So, what is social media customer service?
Despite traditional customers services being conducted via email or phone, social media customer service is possibly the most important part of the overall customer support ecosystem.
Social channels have rapidly gained popularity which means they are too valuable to ignore!
There are multiple ways that contact can be initiated on social channels:
- People tweeting their concerns or complaints about products and services
- Asking questions related to technical features
- Sharing experiences with brands (positive/negative)
- Leaving reviews online
These are just a few examples of the kinds of posts and comments that customers can make.
Is social media customer service really a bad thing?
Social media is more than a platform for marketing.
It’s about engaging with customers to maximise their experience, strengthen loyalty, and maintain brand identity.
In a recent study by Salesforce, it was found that 84% of consumers felt that how they were treated by a company was just as important as the products and services that they bought.
So, you can probably see that customer service is super important especially on social media.
Being able to provide customer service on social networks can be hugely beneficial not only for your business but also for your customers’ overall happiness!
Social media is an incredible tool for marketing your business and can be used to create more relevant customer engagements, be that good OR bad.
Social media today is a real one-to-one connection with your customers
Before social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. In fact, even before the internet, if a customer needed help or support, they would pick up the phone and call your customer services department.
Hopefully, they would have their issue resolved and they left happy, but if they didn’t that was really the end of the story.
Only you and the customer would know the issue and the outcome.
Then came the age of email, again, should a customer need to get in touch to speak about an issue they had, they would contact you via email.
Only you and the customer would know the issue and the outcome.
Fast forward to today and it’s a whole new ball game.
If a customer is not satisfied with something, the first thing most will do is jump on social media and leave a comment for the entire world to see, hoping for a reaction from you.
Your customer service and how you handle the issue is no longer behind closed doors!
The real issue here is that you can no longer rely on sloppy or badly handled customer service.
How you handle a comment or post, will not just impact the customer concerned, but anyone that can see it will judge you on your feedback and how you dealt with the issue.
Listening to feedback and comments from your social channels is key.
By doing so, it will help you shape your strategy and create relevant responses so that people will be happy with how you are performing.
Be strategic with social listening efforts such as reading blog posts or comments online, exploring hashtags/keywords within Facebook and Twitter, etc.
How to effectively handle social media customer service
Here is a quick breakdown of five key areas of what we will cover
- Choose which comments get responses
- Ensure you have a system in place to handle the customer service
- Do you need a specific support channel?
- Set up a best practice guide
- Measure your effectiveness
Choose which comments get responses
With social media and especially from a customer service standpoint, you’re going to get both positive and negative comments and questions.
Reviewtrackers, conducted a recent survey and it found that 34% of consumers said that they are likely to leave negative feedback or review if they received a bad experience.
So the point we’re trying to make here is not to disregard negative comments on social media as companies will tend to get a few, which is only natural.
Responding to them can actually win over new customers and turn a bad experience into a positive one.
However, since it’s probably not really the job of your marketing social media team or person that handles it, it’s however, worth training them a little in how to respond or passing it to the relevant person.
Your customer support team needs to be switched on to social, to handle all those responses.
Establish clear guidelines for your team members to follow when responding, making sure it’s easy for them to handle both positive and negative comments.
Determine what is most important by creating a priority list of which to deal with first.
Train all of your team members on how to deal with different types of feedback online: good or bad!
Establishing ground rules will help ensure everyone knows their role in managing this situation effectively.
Ensure you have a system in place to handle the customer service
Responding to inquiries on social media can be difficult to keep up with.
Even if you answer a question late, it may seem like no response at all because of how quick social channels update, basically in real-time!
The best way to handle this issue is by creating an organised system with a dedicated customer care person that handles these types of requests or feedback.
This team member shouldn’t just be the one to turn to for social media feedback but also be the person that handles the customer support phone line, live chat and emails etc.
This is only really possible if you have a smaller business with fewer enquiries coming in from all sources.
Bigger businesses will have to organise better to make sure that the right type of support team is in place and synchronised to handle this across all channels.
By having a system that unifies all customer issues in one place, you can quickly assign specific messages to particular team members.
This enhances the efficiency and speed of resolving customer issues as compared with managing multiple social media platforms which tend to take up more time.
This nicely leads on to the next point about how to handle customer service on social media
Do you need a specific support channel?
Social media platforms have evolved from just a marketing channel to also become a customer service platform.
Having dedicated social support teams is not always possible for many small to medium-sized businesses.
This can make it difficult to keep track of all social customer support issues and delivering consistent quality in response times.
A better option would be for companies using social media as a marketing platform to build a separate customer support account/channel that addresses issues specifically.
It will allow you to keep your marketing efforts and customer services in two separate channels.
The benefit of this is that if someone posts a customer service issue on your main social channel, your team member that handles the general marketing account could politely say
“Would you mind leaving your feedback questions on this channel please to get the fastest response?”
It will mean that everyone that sees the original question or comment, will know that you’re handling the request professionally.
Another great option could be to get the team member responsible for the main social media account to again politely ask, “would you mind please sending a direct message to…..”
This means that the person that handles all of your social media customer services can have a more focused approach, instead of looking through hundreds if not thousands of general responses.
It will help you become more streamlined which reduces frustration and ensures everyone gets an appropriate answer from qualified individuals rather than just reading responses written solely by marketers whose goal isn’t solving problems.
Set up a best practice guide
Customer support is about more than just about fighting fires and getting the job done, hoping that the client will just ‘go away or quiet down’.
It’s a key way of strengthening your brand image and building trust in your customers.
By having best practice guides you can ensure your team not only solves an issue but goes above and beyond to amaze the customer.
People expect a seamless and perfect experience right off the bat. They expect you to meet their expectations every time.
So when issues happen and customers aren’t satisfied, think of it as an opportunity to really showcase how you treat customers and value their business.
It may seem strange but think about it.!
For example, how many times have you ordered something online and the item has gone missing in transit?
A bad way to handle this would be for your customer support team to give the customer a hard time in asking lots of questions, with the final response being:
“We will need to wait 5-7 days to see if it turns up, if it doesn’t please contact us again and we will sort the issue for you”
What does that say to the customer, how does that make them feel?
They bought something from you, paid money for quick delivery and now you’re not even meeting their initial expectations.
Not only that but your response is again frustrating the customer more asking them to do further things to get what they wanted, which should have been easy in the first place.
A better response would be
“I’m so sorry to hear that, not to worry, we will resend you your item again on next day delivery. I’ll also pop a 10% voucher in there to spend on your next purchase. We will also post you a free return label, when the original item shows up it would be great if you could return it to us – thank you so much for bringing this to our attention and we hope to fix this immediately”
As you can see, most customers will be overjoyed with this. You have listened, responded and taken their issue seriously.
Now the above is an extreme example and perhaps not possible, but it is used to illustrate that you should ALWAYS put the customer first try to delight them with the outcome.
A customer is more likely to look on you as an amazing company to deal with and become loyal, they will remember you and your legendary customer service.
So back to the topic.
Ensure that you have a list of problems and a standard system in handling them, e.g.
- What is the go too response and outcome on a non-delivery?
- How will you handle a response if someone says they found the product elsewhere cheaper?
- If someone leaves a negative product or service review, how do you respond?
- Someone receives a broken/damaged item, what is your policy and how will you treat the customer?
By having a set of guidelines, you will quickly be able to respond and deal with the request efficiently and more importantly, keep the customer delighted!
Measure the effectiveness of your social media customer service
Once an issue is resolved with the customer, a great idea is to get feedback from them.
Now, this is not only helping you understand how you are doing once you have had a customer service enquiry resolved but again you will show the customer that you value their business.
An easy way to do this would be to send a link to an online survey, send an email asking how you did, send them a direct message or even pick up the phone and speak to them.
If you’ve followed this guide, in the previous point we mentioned having effective customer service guidelines.
This is the follow on to that.
By knowing that a customer that didn’t receive a delivery as an example, what your go-to response is and the outcome, it allows you to contact them to find out how they felt about their experience.
Only by doing this can you shape your guidelines and how you handle social media customer service in the future.
If the feedback you receive is really positive, then you know your guidelines and customer service is spot on. On the flip side, if negative, you know you have work to do, either your policies need to adapt or your team handling them needs better training.
The end goal as with anything customer-facing is to ensure that they leave, regardless of the situation feeling that they are valued and important to your company.
The old saying “the customer is always right” is still true today, even if they aren’t, make them feel that you listened and do everything in your power to resolve the issue.
It’s far easier to retain a customer and make them loyal than losing one forever.
Some top tips on how to handle customer service on social media
Now we have covered that customer service on social media is something that all companies will need to deal with regardless of industry, type of business or size.
If you have social accounts, then it’s part and parcel of it.
Below are some quick tips to allow you to effectively handle customer service on social media.
1) Social is fast-moving, aim to respond immediately or within hours – customers won’t wait.
2) Be honest with your response, if it will take you a few days to sort an issue, tell the customer that, again let them know straight away that you’re dealing with it and when and how they can expect a response.
3) Try and take customer service response off social media, even if you have a dedicated customer service channel. We don’t mean deleting the original post, we mean, respond to the original post and comment that you will look into the matter and for them expect an email or call to resolve the issue. Don’t keep the thread running back and forth on social.
4) Respond to everything, good or bad. Also even if it’s not directly a customer service issue, it could be a comment like “love these new earrings” as a post, say a little “thank you – we love them too :)”
5) Remember that you need to be human in responses, although you have guidelines, don’t sound like a robot.
6) Ensure that what you respond with is positive always in nature, nothing is too much trouble! If you know the client is incorrect politely let them know – again make sure this isn’t on a social feed.
7) Never argue and agitate the situation further
If you have social media accounts then you know your customers will engage with your brand, so you need to know that their voice is being heard and seen by others.
Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter have the potential for a business to communicate with its audience in real-time, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction because people are able to get answers quickly no matter what time of day it may be.
It’s important for modern businesses to use social media as part of their customer service strategy so that they’re prepared when an opportunity arises.
What do you think about how to handle our customer service through social media? Let us know!