These days, social media interactions can make or break a business.
Various studies have shown that the majority of consumers now expect a response from a brand on Twitter within an hour, while on Facebook the expectations are similar, with 42% of customers also expecting a response within one hour of posting.
If you don't respond to messages within that time frame - let alone the same day - chances are your customers will lose faith in your business, and potentially move on.
Brands that stand out are the ones that respond swiftly, both to messages and reviews.
In this post, we'll look at four actionable ways to ensure that your customer service lives up to expectation, and is boosting your bottom line.
1. Quickly Respond to Messages
When you receive a message from a customer, it's important to quickly address their concerns and answer their questions.
Increasingly, people are using Facebook Messenger to reach out to businesses - in order to respond to them quickly at scale, Facebook Messenger chatbots can help.
You can set up Q&A triggers so that the bot answers frequently asked questions immediately - for example, if your business often gets questions about location, you can set your chatbot up to provide your address, and even offer directions whenever "location," "address" or "directions" are mentioned over chat.
You can do this for a variety of queries, and a live operator can always take over at any time if the queries are overly complex.
2. Respond to Every Review Respectfully - and Never Argue
As a business owner, you have to maintain your cool.
No matter how rude a query may seem, or how untrue a review might be, you have to remain calm in your responses.
Fighting back against a negative review or complaint will only make you look bad, and potentially result in more negative comments and responses from the reviewer. Instead, try to approach every interaction as an opportunity.
Someone didn't like your service? Take the time to ask them why. This will ensure the customer feels heard, and you might also learn something you hadn't considered in the process.
If you're able to fix their problem, or clarify a concern, it's likely that you'll turn them around, and they may even edit their review for the better.
This is key, as reviews impact not only your online reputation, but your Google Local listing rank. It's worth taking the time to address such concerns where possible.
3. Create a Facebook Group
Building an online community centered around your business is another way you can help boost your brand reputation and presence.
You can create a Facebook group for your customers to join - members of your group can then start discussions, share opinions, ask questions and communicate about your products or services.
Make sure you establish your community rules, and assign moderators to keep the group running smoothly.
If you choose to make the group 'Public' instead of 'Closed', you can add questions which interested people will need to answer in order to join. This can help prevent bots and spammers from swarming in and hijacking the conversation.
4. Be Friendly, Respectful and Helpful
Whenever you interact with a customer online, be warm and welcoming.
It probably goes without saying, but it's key to be friendly and helpful - rather than stuffy and... well, business-like.
The same applies to your Facebook Messenger chatbots - when you create scripts for your chatbots, make them as human-like as possible. Even though it is a chatbot talking, it shouldn't sound robotic.
You should also ensure you maintain a consistent tone and approach in groups, ensuring there's a clear understanding of what members can expect from your business and related discussions. Establish a style guide to keep all group admins on the same page, and ensure that when you address any issues, that you do so objectively, and that you document any relevant decisions.
As noted, social media has become a key platform for modern customer service, one which, if you're not tapping into, you're definitely missing out.
And that expectation is only going to increase - as more brands offer improved customer service interactions via social, they also raise consumer expectations overall. If you're failing to meet that, you're failing. Simple as that.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.