By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff
A formal customer service social media group could be a boon to your contact center. It could be tasked with developing an efficient strategy to manage channels like Facebook and Twitter—to benefit customers and the business.
Assign members to the group who are socially savvy. For the uninitiated, social media can be intimidating, so give some of your in-house millennials (who grew up in the Digital Age) a shot at wrangling the social beast. Be sure, as well, to add experienced customer service staff to the team.
When handled skillfully, customer service via social media can enhance the customer experience and even create brand loyalty that is infectious. This is the potential impact of 24/7 customer access, instant communication and quick problem resolution.
In a nutshell, social can be a valuable ally for your brand, so it’s worth making the effort.
A very public forum
Social media is also a highly visible forum for disgruntled customers to complain. A gripe can speed around a social platform, spreading vitriolic negativity wherever it goes. This is even more of a reason to manage social media for your brand.
You need to be where your customers are—both to boost engagement and to thwart destructive comments. And your customers are on social. In one JD Power survey of more than 23,000 online consumers, 67 percent of respondents claimed to have contacted a company via social media for support.
Customer expectations are rising when it comes to social media. It used to be a pleasant surprise when a brand responded to a customer care issue on social media. Now, it’s become de rigueur for companies, meaning that sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become important channels through which consumers solicit and receive customer service.
Social media and customer lifetime value
With social media in your pocket, you have a better chance of retaining customers—because you have a better chance of keeping them happy.
Here are seven ways to provide great customer service through social media:
- Choose the right platform(s): Determine where to focus your social media time and resources by searching for mentions of your brand within popular social sites. If your customers aren’t talking about your brand online, look for ways to include yourself in conversations and add something of value.
- Monitor for mentions: Use available tools to automate the process of searching for mentions. Collect and analyze customer activity to better understand their issues and to respond appropriately. Use insights to make decisions for improving customer service.
- Respond quickly: Your company size and industry vertical will affect your social metrics. You may need to sift through a lot of “noise.” You may also need a customer service platform that can integrate with social media and turn certain messages into tickets—with a caveat: In the fast-paced world of social media, speed of response is critical, so assign priority accordingly.
- Adjust your tone: Be friendly, but not too friendly. While chumminess, including emojis, is acceptable between friends and family, don’t necessarily expect a warm welcome when they come from your business. As a general rule of thumb, keep language concise and professional, but avoid canned responses and be personal. You may have to strike a different tone with each customer, adjusting based on the responses you receive. What tickles one person might offend another.
- Take heated issues offline: Customers can be unfair and demanding. Tactfully and quickly, take negative conversations offline before they do damage to your brand. Placate the customer while signaling to online observers that the issue is being handled. Don’t simply pass the customer to another channel, like email, as that can come off as rude and non-empathetic.
- Leverage your database: Save yourself time and make life easier for your customers by linking to knowledge base articles. Rather than explaining complex processes over social media, provide easy guides built to help. Furthermore, use your CRM software to leverage customer histories that can add value to social media conversations.
- Know when to switch to crisis mode: One or two complaints are manageable. If 100 customers are mentioning the same problem, it’s a crisis for your brand. Make sure you have a planned response: Have a trusted PR firm on retainer, or a company leader prepared to address customers directly.
Use these seven social media best practices to deliver great support on the social platforms that your customers already frequent. You’ll build stronger relationships and create more loyal customers.