We've had enough experience with social media now to realise how effective it is as a customer service tool. Even my Mum now knows that if she's unhappy with the customer service she receives over the phone or by e-mail, her next move will always be to take to Facebook to ensure she gets optimum attention.
So the question is; as a business how can you make the most of this opportunity bestowed upon you, to both prepare and act upon the customer engagements you encounter on your Facebook Page?
- Don't delete user-generated content.
Only recently I’ve seen a business who had received quite a lengthy complaint from a customer on their Facebook Page, decide to deal with it by simply hitting the delete button. The result was the customer responding by highlighting the fact they had deleted their previous comment. The only thing the business had achieved by taking this course of action was to frustrate the customer more, causing an initially straightforward customer complaint to develop into an enormously embarrassing situation.
If you delete negative comments they aren't going anywhere and it won't solve anything. As a result customers may get savvy and end up sharing their experiences on other platforms out of the reach of your trigger happy delete button! Of course there are exceptions to this rule; if the comment is quite clearly spam or is using offensive language for example.
- Use the private messaging function.
A fantastic feature implemented to Facebook Pages along with the timeline update was allowing fans to privately message the Facebook Page directly. Once a private message has been sent by a fan it opens up the ability for the Facebook Page to respond and develop into a private discussion to and fro.
Some customers will already be aware of this feature and are likely to utilise it, others however, may not be aware of the recently implemented feature. You can direct customers who are unaware of the private messaging function by offering it as a solution to customers who require assistance with an order which may involve giving sensitive information such as order numbers, contact details etc.
This feature is not compulsory and can be enabled or disabled through the Facebook Page's admin panel.
- Respond as soon as possible.
Time is most certainly of essence; do not ignore your customers! Even if you don’t have a fully comprehensive answer immediately it is much more courteous to at the very least acknowledge the customer’s enquiry rather than ignore it.
Ignoring customer enquiries and requests will only succeed in burning bridges. Even if it's not initially a complaint, customers will become irate if they're comment or question isn't at least acknowledged by the Facebook Page in some form. Even if it's a positive review or recommendation, a simple 'Like' of that individual's post may be sufficient.
The very reason people opt to comment on Facebook and turn to the internet in general for their issues with companies is because they are guaranteed recognition. Even if it’s not from the brand itself they will still generate engagement from existing users who will add fuel to the fire.
- Be personal.
You have the customer's name, use it. And let them know they're talking to a real person, not a faceless corporation.
It's easy to shout and hurl abuse at a logo, but as soon as they discover they're talking to someone called Jack from the customer service team who is actually quite a nice chap and promptly responds, it's a little harder for a customer to then continue to direct so much anger towards that individual.
Essentially what your customers really want is acknowledgement, that someone is listening and ready and willing to assist them. When customer service is done well it has the potential to improve brand reputation. Done badly however, you risk jeopardising the loyalty and continued profitability of customer relationships.