According to JD Power and Associates, 67% of consumers have used a company's social media page for customer support. Social allows customers to access support from your company conveniently without leaving the network, whether the network is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. This creates a 'right next door' feel; it also creates an entire arena of customer service that feeds off of quality relationships.
In the social media model, the user wants to view your business as a responsive contact in their sphere of relations-not just another faceless entity or voice on the other end of the line. A quality relationship you cultivate and maintain on social media equals excellent customer service.
With the importance of the relationship in mind, here are some tips for improving social customer service.
1. Optimize Response Time
The nice thing about social media is that anytime a customer attempts to contact you, you are notified immediately. Especially if you have a team dedicated to social media support, this enables you to field questions and respond to problems just about as fast as possible. Fast response time is one of the keys to achieving the 'next door' feel. According to Social Media Content Strategist Jay Baer, 42% of customers expect a response time of sixty minutes or less, and 32% expect to hear back within 30 minutes. Make sure your social media presence is prepared for that type of response time.
2. Minimize Awkwardness
Social media can be a great place to speak to a customer's needs, but it should not become a place of constant escalation. Salesforce's Lead Solution Engineer, Thomas DePew points out, "When social is used to fix the problems that arise in other channels, your company may be socially awkward." A company's social media customer service is only as good as the other legs of its traditional service.
3. Consider Creating a Separate Account
A separate social media account will tell your customers you are dedicated to customer service. Unlike your company's social media marketing, your customer service account will exist solely for the purpose of helping solve customer problems, and it will help gauge customer satisfaction. Having a team dedicated to maintaining this account will ensure quality of service, and having that team communicate consistently with social marketing will ensure brand continuity.
4. Maintain Consistent Branding
The face you put on your social media accounts should be personable and consistent across all networks. If you're using Twitter, think carefully about your company's handle and how it represents you, and once you've got it, stick with it. Make sure all posts and tweets have an accessible, friendly tone, and all responses to queries maintain the polite, personable tone. If a customer is angry, it means the issue is important to them. A response that recognizes this while simultaneously maintaining the friendly tone you've used in status posts will increase the chances of the user mentioning your brand to friends after the encounter.
5. Streamline Response Content
Short, to-the-point responses of fewer than 140 characters are optimum. Additionally, create a list of links to troubleshooting resources and other customer service resources. The social media support specialist can then pick from this list when tailoring responses to each individual costumer. Or, the list can be tailored to fit different scenarios.
6. Come Close to Constant
Some companies boast 24/7 support, and those operating on a global scale pretty much have to. Depending on the size of the operation, any number of employees might be necessary to achieve 24/7 social media support, but the pay-offs could be huge in terms of conversions. A social media user who experiences support at any hour is more likely to talk about it online. Right now the power internet users wield is unprecedented and 24/7 services helps harness that power. If it's simply not possible to offer constant support, communicate clearly the times you'll be away from the computer.
7. Integrate With Other Facets of Your Business
The emerging picture is one in which a company's entire approach can hinge on social media. This is a good way to monitor customer satisfaction with products, track the particular issues, and respond with product strategy accordingly. It's also a good way to monitor the questions customers are asking. You can compare standard customer satisfaction (CSAT) reports with what they tell you on Twitter as well.
Many customers are still used to looking for a phone number, or on a website for customer service info. But if your presence on social is consistent and can back up the quality service you offer elsewhere, you're going to appeal to a vast audience, and you'll get five stars from the people who are out there online, talking about it.