Social media is THE place to build relationships with customers, and how this journey is managed is an essential part of a brand’s ultimate success. Social media customer service has a direct impact on sales, but also brand loyalty and reputation. It gives you the opportunity to not only deal with issues, concerns, and questions, but to build stronger and closer bonds with your customers while doing so.
Why use social media for customer service?
Your customers are already engaging on social media every day, so it’s your job to meet them where they are, and where it’s most convenient for them. Statistics reveal that after a poor customer service experience, 56% of consumers will never use the company again, 40% will tell friends and family, and 20% will post a revenge review online. On the other hand, studies suggest that when businesses respond to customer service requests successfully over social media, those customers spend 20 – 40% more with the company. When people have a satisfying exchange with a business on social media, they leave that interaction feeling more connected and emotionally invested than before. Even better, social media encourages sharing: this means when you do right by your customers, they are more likely to tell others.
What does this mean for Black Friday?
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are finding that they have become more active online – whether by choice or not. Without an in-person, in-store service desk to approach, many consumers’ first port of call is their favorite social channel. What’s more, if your business is taking part in Black Friday, you’re likely to sell more, and therefore have more general activity over this period: which means the possibility of more returns, issues, and a larger volume of inquiries being made. And, with all the extra activity on your pages, if you have a service blunder, it’s also more likely to be witnessed by a larger audience. It’s always a great idea to optimise your social media customer service, but it has now become even more vital to put some solid best practices in place.
Our top tips for social media customer service
1. Listen and converge
Unfortunately, you won’t always be tagged in posts where your business is being discussed. So, to make sure you know what is really being said about you, employ some social listening tools to track online mentions. You should focus your customer service attention on the platforms where your business is being talked about most. Also, analyse what is being said, positive or negative, and let it shape your approach.
Tip: Don’t assume that people know your Insta or Twitter handle: include variations in your search. Also, humans make spelling errors – so look for common misspelling of your brand name.
2. Create social media customer service guidelines
It doesn’t matter why your business is communicating with someone, your brand should always come across as a cohesive persona.
Brand guidelines for social media customer service should contain:
- Tone of voice: include differences for dealing with severe complaints that require a more serious response.
- Answers to FAQs.
- Protocols for escalations (when a complaint is serious and needs extra careful attention).
- Think about what (and when) you’re comfortable offering as compensation – like a freeby, money back, or formal apology.
3. See a need, fill a need
If you notice that the same questions keep coming up, why not create some useful content? Produce visual posts (like Instagram stories), how-to videos, or blogs with tips on how to best use your product or service. You’re helping your customers to enjoy your brand more, and at the same time, reducing the workload of future enquiries. Rather than overwhelming people with information, it’s far more effective to direct them to content you’ve created for more detail. The best balance is to give them just enough guidance to solve their core problem immediately, and then enrich your response with links to resources.
4. Manage those expectations
Every business has different customer service resources at their disposal. But, there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling ignored: so make it clear when your service team is available, how long it may take to get a response or resolve an issue, and point them to where they could get answers faster. On Facebook you can also use automated message features to immediately tell customers when you’ll get back to them. These are especially useful during busier-than-usual times. Similarly, on Instagram, you can set up Quick Replies.
5. Reply real fast!
According to statista, 83% of people on social media expect a response on the same day, and 28% expect it within the hour. Facebook, for example, will only give your business a ‘very responsive’ badge if you respond 90% of the time within 15 minutes or less – day or night. When it comes to Twitter, people see it like a text – studies suggest 64% of twitter users expect a response within an hour.
6. Automate speediness with AI
If you don’t have the resources to respond to customers 24/7, consider chatbots which can be integrated into your social pages, and ensure that every single message or mention is acknowledged immediately. It’s a great way to offer basic customer service, at all hours, and works best for simple questions that you get often. But, make sure to regularly check how your bots are doing, how well they’re being received, and if their tone could do with some humanising. The trick is to never stop learning, which also gives you the insights to keep training your robot to do its job better.
Quick pause. Let's learn from an expert!
Meet Shana Weeder. 💙
Shana is Yoco’s very own Customer Engagement specialist. You can find Shana on our social media doing her thing! We had one important question for her ahead of Black Friday.
Q: If you had to give business owners one really good piece of advice for doing a GREAT job of customer service, what would you say to help them?
A: Servicing customers via calls, emails, Social Media, live chats, etc., has become the norm during the pandemic and can work really well for your business. But it can sometimes lead to a bit of broken telephone which makes the situation worse.
To make it a great experience, you need to be prepared to go the extra mile and in some cases, find solutions for your customers proactively.
Providing service for our business has taught me that you firstly need to listen, and listen to understand. Apologise, if need be. At the end of the day, we’re all customers and know what it’s like to have a terrible service experience. And then lastly, assurance that you are there to help and to resolve the issue. Following up is very important to ensure that you close the interaction only when the customer is ready.
It’s always great giving 110% and what’s more, hearing from your customers that “you’ve been so very helpful” will always put a smile on your face!
7. Handle complex things privately
Often, it’s better to handle the meat of a query or complaint privately. But, make this easy for the customer: e.g. on Twitter, set up the “Send a private message” button; on Facebook, message them privately from the comment; on Instagram, DM them and leave a note in the public comment to check their messages (others will also see you have done so).
When to go private?
- When you’ll need confidential information in order to address the query e.g. booking numbers, serial numbers etc.
- Any type of conversation that could get heated or escalate – hopefully before things get ugly.
- When you can’t respond properly in a limited amount of characters or space.
Once things are sorted, you can signal to others that the issue was resolved, by finishing off with a “thank you, we’re happy we could help” back in public. It’s also important how you ask someone to take the conversation offline: you need to show that you take things seriously, and appreciate the urgency required to handle the issue.
8. Respond to everything…?
Ignoring customers on social media is the online equivalent of allowing the phone to keep ringing. In general, it’s good practice to respond as much as is feasible and productive: say thanks for a positive comment or review, or admit to a mistake and apologise for bad experiences. At the very least, if you’re inundated, you have to respond to every direct question. Don’t ever delete a comment you don’t like, or be defensive – the customer has presented you with the opportunity to make it right, no matter their delivery.
9. Be a human
When responding online, include a greeting, and sign off with your name or initials. Use the customer’s first name, and try not to sound too scripted or robotic. Even when your responses are automated, enrich them with words and phrases that show empathy. You want every customer to feel appreciated and valued. Even better, if you have the time, follow up with clients who have had technical or user issues, by asking them how things are going a few days later.
10. Make lemonade
People who review or comment on social platforms may well already have become frustrated, before they got to you. Diffuse things as fast as possible by keeping your response light and positive, and reinforce your sincere commitment to finding a fulfilling resolution. Never argue with someone online – you’re more likely to get a huge backlash with a frenzy of unwanted activity. Whenever possible, learn something from negative interactions, and look closely at how you can avoid them in future. Remember that handling a bad situation in the right way, can actually attract fans who appreciate your attitude!
Tip: Get some perspective, and monitor your social media customer service – here is a list of great tools with analytics capabilities.
Ultimately, encouraging happy and loyal customers is the best way to secure a bright future for your business. Meet your market where they are, show flexibility in how you problem solve, and demonstrate to your followers that you are a brand of substance that puts them first – no matter where you connect.
Ever wanted to have a say in what businesses create for you?— Yoco (@Yoco_ZA) November 11, 2020
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