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Social Media for Customer Service (and How to Make Most of It)

social-media-for-customer-service

Social media is the new wave in forward thinking customer service. Social media for customer service has gained significant importance along with the proactive customer service approach. With social media, you can connect and interact with your customers in real time.

Generally, when people have a query or problem they look for a quick solution via using social media. Actually, 67% of consumers have engaged a brand’s social media for customer service needs. Following the best practices for social media customer service are essential for keeping your customers happy, satisfied and retain them long term.

What is social media customer service?

Social media customer service refers to the practice of providing consumer support via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin to quickly answer questions. Customers choose social media as the main source to interact with brands as they get instant attention.

Sprout Social Index says 90% of surveyed customers have used social media in some way to communicate with a brand. Over 34.5% said they preferred social media over reactive support channels like phone and email.

Social media helps to accelerate your business growth by following ways:

  • Brand awareness: Use social media customer service best practices to increase brand engagement and win new customers. Learn about your target audience and position your product or service as the best option for them.
  • Social listening – Social listening is all about how you engage with your customers. Active listening allows your brand to monitor, respond and further engage with your customers across social channels to improve customer service.
  • Brand reputation – Social media plays an important role in shaping your brand reputation. It is an important source by which customers encounter brands and their messages.
  • Word of mouth 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others, says Ambassador. Happy customers become brand advocates by sharing their experiences and stories about your brand.

Social media customer service best practices

When you focus on social media customer service strategy, it is important to use it in the right way. Let’s find out if you are using it in a fair way for your business. Here are 10 main strategies on how to make most out of your social media for customer service.

1. Be prompt with your responses

Unlike customer service by reactive approach (phone and email) that is not ideally active 24×7, social media customer support has come up with ‘always-on’ expectation. Know exactly where your audience is talking about you. Suppose you are on Twitter, but your main audience is on Instagram. Thus, it becomes important to know where your brand is being mentioned and engage audiences on that platform.

Research says that 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes. The below chart shows how social media reduces the response time to the customer’s queries or complaints, unlike other customer support channels.

brand-response-time-to-customer-complaints-over-social-media

Source: Social Media Marketing University

The slow response for customer service negatively affects customer experience and they tend to:

  • Share their experience with family and friends
  • Move to another channel to escalate their concerns
  • Don’t prefer the brand for future purchase
  • Do not recommend the brand’s products or services
  • Complain via social media

Facebook for customer service

The rate of Facebook support response time rate can be viewed on your company’s Facebook page. Facebook rates your business as “quick or very responsive” when it answers customers queries in or less than five minutes 24×7. For monitoring social media accounts 24×7, you can add programmable messenger bots and customizable away messages for off hours that allows other effective options for providing customer service on Facebook.

Social media customer service example: Facebook Messenger Bots

An inContact survey concluded that 87% of customers like proactive customer service communication and 73% of those who had a positive experience said it improved their perception of the company.

So, how Facebook Messenger can answer proactively to customers’ questions?

Chatbots can proactively send urgent alerts via Facebook Messenger.

social-media-customer-service-omega-air

Source: astutesolutions.com

Chatbots are 24×7 available to provide information. Omega Air uses Facebook Messenger to notify the customer that her flight has been delayed, instead of leaving her to face the issue once she has arrived at the airport.

2. Measure your social media conversations

If your company is following social media customer service strategy, you have to respond to your customer questions, follow post news updates, new releases over the Twitter account, Facebook page, Pinterest boards and thank your brand advocates.

But are you tracking and monitoring your social interactions?

If you are using social media for customer service then it is important to measure those activities. Social interactions differ from one business to another. But like any other customer service channel, social media also needs to put time and resources. So measuring how your customers are satisfied and your team performance is important.

The main KPIs and metrics to measure social media customer service are

  • Response time – Measuring the wait time for a response is key to maintaining a standard for customer satisfaction with your chat conversations. It helps you to understand and measure the effectiveness of your team to handle customer queries.
  • Total resolved & pending conversations – With the resolved and pending conversations, helps you to know how effective your social customer service team is. It helps to know the total number of resolved and pending conversations.
  • Customer satisfaction metrics (NPS survey) – NPS survey helps you to gain an understanding of how your support service is perceived by your customers. It helps you to gain customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction with each agent’s performance.

You should only focus on the social media KPIs that are most relevant to the platforms your brand is active on and that have the most relevance to your customer behavior.

3. Social Listening

“Proactive listening is one of the most underutilized aspects of social media today, and probably the most powerful.”

Social media listening is about analyzing the brand conversations happening around your industry and use the insights for better business decisions. It helps to understand why, how and where these conversations are happening, and what customers think when they are mentioning your brand.

With social media listening, you can figure out where the customers are talking about you.

 

social-media-listening-dashboard

Source: sentione

Every comment, post, feedback, suggestion, and review over social media should be acknowledged. This is one of the social media customer service tips that should be followed by companies.

The customer comments can be viewed publicly, businesses have an incentive to be attentive to everybody via social media. Not replying means you are ignoring the customer. Just like businesses value customers they should value their feedbacks and comments.

Streamlining your support process by following:

  • Prepare preset answers for common customers queries for social network moderation
  • Email replies are more of words so it should be written on way that is not misunderstood
  • Customers love personal attention so send personalized replies based on the case 

Social media customer service example: JetBlue Airways

Often customers take to Twitter and Facebook to voice their complaints on social media publicly.

social-listening-example

Source: JetBlue Airways

The above situation relates to an issue that acknowledges the frustration of an angry flyer and how a JetBlue customer service rep calms him down. While replying to such responses mirroring words can make customers feel heard.

4. Keep your tone conversational

Social media allows brands to become more conversational and approachable. A friendly jovial tone and humor can humanize brands, and this gives companies new ways for connection.  84% of millennials don’t rely on traditional advertising. It means brands have to get creative in attracting their attention.

According to Nielsen Norman Group, friendliness and trustworthiness are highly valued by the customers. And tone has a big impact on how trustworthy a brand appeared.

The banking sector is also benefited from conversational language. It has been found that those banks that used casual language to provide straightforward information were considered more trustworthy and approachable, while banks that adopted formal tone were considered dull.

Starting the conversation with a simple “hello” or “hi” along with the name reaches out with a personal touch to your customers. Opening and closing social media customer service responses with friendly tone add a human touch to the response. It definitely creates accountability from both sides.

Here are some of the don’ts that you need to consider while conversing over social media.

  • Don’t neglect your customer’s feedbacks – Providing customer service over social media means every direct query should be responded.
  • Don’t hide or delete comments/posts – Removing customer’s negative comment in order to maintain your brand image might affect the customer relationship.
  • Don’t be defensive – Be thankful to your customers for reaching out to you and reporting the issue and apologize for the trouble they encountered.

When your support representatives follow these customer service etiquette it helps to soften replies considerably.

5. Look for opportunities in feedbacks

Receiving negative feedbacks from customers is an open invitation to improve your brand image, reputation, and your relationship with the customer. The customer must feel like they are heard, valued and this makes them happy.

A customer wants to be heard. It is as simple as that. So respond to every post, comment, suggestion and make the best use of it for your brand development.

The customer service reps should consider the below things to proactively engage customers:

  • Respond even if the user has not directly tweeted at you or asked for help. When you answer brand mentions or comments it shows you are paying attention.
  • Promote your customers by retweeting a happily resolved support interaction. It is like giving your customers a big thank you.
  • Give your customer service team a public face. Use a team photo or an agent spotlight. It’s nice to connect the face of the brand with the names behind it.
  • Try to follow-up a resolved interaction with, “How is everything?”

Social media lets you engage your customers directly. When your customers have some feedback or complain they can interact directly with your team.

6. Social media IS your branding

Social media customer service strategy should be the primary choice for all businesses to improve brand image and reputation. Social media branding refers to using the right ways to engage customers on social media platforms.

Branding is an important part of any business to prevail for the long term. And the purpose of social media is to boost brand awareness.

Social media helps to differentiate your brand positioning and shows your customers that you are accessible. An easy approach to your brand develops a better connection with customers.

Example of social media for customer service: Wayfair

Wayfair is known for selling affordable furniture and home goods. As a large group of the audience was active on their Instagram, the big challenge for them was getting followers to go from looking at a photo to going to their website and making a purchase.

Apparently, it changed in the year 2017 when Instagram rolled out new shopping features. Wayfair has done a great job of implementing this feature into their social media strategy.

wayfair-instagram-shoppable-post

 

Source: Wayfair

Wayfair has done a great job of implementing this feature into their social media strategy.

How social media impacts branding

  • Sustainability – Social media is the best platform that helps your business to match the level of competition.  By following the social media customer service best practices you can boost your brand reputation.
  • Quick response – Customers can easily share their feedback over social media that helps you to identify the white and gray areas.
  • Add customers – Due to the use of hashtags and keywords, a business can easily identify the number of interested customers who can be easily converted into potential users. After you find reliable customers, you can direct them to your business page for completing the sign-up process.
  • Cost efficient – The cost of business promotions can be reduced with social media as compared with other channels.
  • Build social circle – Building a strong social network helps your business to develop a good social environment. The customers are easily notified and informed about your brand, product, and services.

You can lift up your company’s position on top search results by implementing the social media customer service strategy.

7. Social messaging is the future of customer service

Social messaging has become an integral part of customer service. WhatsApp has become one of the popular channels for customers service globally. It has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users, sharing more than 60 billion messages per day, a huge amount of on platform activity.

WhatsApp has launched it’s WhatsApp Business app, which enables business users to “interact with customers easily by using tools to automate, sort, and quickly respond to messages”.

Example of social media customer service best practices: Hellman

Hellman wanted more Brazilians to cook with their mayonnaise and they thought of a campaign using WhatsApp. The campaign gave people the option to connect with a real chef through WhatsApp. When the chef got in touch, they clicked a picture of their fridge and send. The chef would plan a recipe quickly out of it and cooked the meal together, staying connected through WhatsApp.

whatapp-for-social-media-customer-service

Source: Hellmen

The campaign gave people the option to connect with a real chef through WhatsApp. When the chef got in touch, they clicked a picture of their fridge and send. The chef would plan a recipe quickly out of it and cooked the meal together, staying connected through WhatsApp.

8. Handle negative comments positively on social media

When a customer posts a negative comment, businesses tend to defend themselves. Always try to meet negative comments positively. A complaint on social media is noticed by every single customer as it appears in their news feed. Being positive towards also helps to breed support from your loyal customers.

A negative comment brings other followers around your business and depending on how likely your business is to be on the receiving end of social media negativity, brainstorming positive responses is vital for your customer service social media strategy.

Social media customer service example: Applebee’s

Applebee’s, known for its quirky and humorous responses over social media, handled an issue so smartly.

applebees-social-media-customer-service

Source: Applebee’s

Applebee’s replies customers comments on time greet customers with the first name, apologizes and give a phone number for offline conversation. And it does all these under 280 characters.

9. Streamline your social media customer service process

No matter how hard you try to take your business to new heights, but without social media, it is difficult to reach the goal. Your customers may connect with your business through various social channels. Research says, 90% of businesses are predicted to leverage the power of social media for better customer service.

Managing all social media conversations over all channels such as  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram is hectic. Social media tools can be a great help for monitoring and listening to your audience and offer consistent service across all social platforms.

With the help of social media tools, you know how effectively you can use social media for better customer service. Here is an example of two great social media tools that can be used for your business.

  • REVE ChatREVE Chat is an omnichannel live chat platform that streamlines customer conversations across social channel like Facebook and other channels like Viber, Telegram to deliver unified support to the customers over their preferred channel.
  • Brand24 – Brand24 tool allows you to gain all your social insights. You can listen to your social audience, what they are saying about your brand. These insights help to respond to your positive and negative comments over the social platforms, to stay engaged with customers.

10. Social media is all about visual engagement

Social media is a continuous engagement process. It plays a key role in today’s customer communication. According to visual content marketing statistics, 32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business.

Using visual content obviously increases brand awareness. Visual content is more appealing and engaging with the social media audience. You can create your own graphics or images and post them on social media.

Almost every business on the market uses social media to tailor their messages and promote their offers by posting content on social media networks. As a matter of fact, 140 million tweets are generated and over two million videos get uploaded to social media every day.

In order to connect emotionally with your customers, you have many options that can be used such as:

  • Videos
  • Memes
  • Gifs
  • Images
  • Sneak peek
  • Behind the scenes
  • First look

Visual content can help customers to connect with your brand and visuals convey and connect more quickly than simple content.

Final thoughts on social media for customer service

Social media customer service is the future of business customer interactions. It plays a vital role in customer service strategy and results in brand success followed with loyalty and advocacy. With the right planning and executive of the strategy can your digital community to a higher level.

Key takeaways for your social media customer service strategy

  • Reply to social comments promptly
  • Measure and monitor customer service via social media tools
  • Maintain your social tone for a social audience
  • Respond to both positive as well as negative comments

 

Author’s Bio

Anurag Mehra is a Growth Hacker and a Digital Marketing Enthusiast who believes that learning never stops in this ever evolving domain. He likes to share his knowledge and learn form others.

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