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How to provide awesome customer service on social media

Social media has become has become ingrained our daily lives.  f you’ve never used it to discuss or get the attention of a bu...

Social media has become has become ingrained our daily lives. f you’ve never used it to discuss or get the attention of a business, it might surprise you to know just how much customer service activity is taking place on social media. Take a look at these stats:

  • A 2013 JD Power study found that sixty-seven percent of consumer respondents have used social media to contact a company for help.
  • A 2012 State of Social Customer Service report states that of those who made a customer service inquiry via social media, only thirty-six percent felt the issue was resolved in a prompt and efficient manner.
  • Customers spend up to forty percent more with businesses that respond to them on social media.

On the flip side, a Gartner study found that failure to respond to social media inquiries can produce a fifteen percent churn rate. There’s a big opportunity to get involved with your customer base, both to grow and retain customers. So what can you do to give great customer service on social media?

Get educated before taking action. Learn as much as you can about the landscape before implementing a social media plan. First, figure out which platform your customers frequent. You may already know this by using social media, or you might need to ask your customers.

A quick survey asking which platform they frequent can get you the answer. Next, start following companies that provide stellar social media customer service. Watch what they do and consider adding specific tactics to your social media playbook.

As you follow these companies, listen to their tone on social media. Think about what you want your business’s tone to be. Following businesses similar to yours that are active on social media can help you decide how formal or casual you want to sound.

Set up your social media infrastructure. Now that you have some information, start setting up your home base on the platform of choice. Remember that this is an extension of your company, so you’ll need to post information like hours and days of availability to set customer expectations.

Create some parameters around when you will respond, as not all customer comments on social media require (or desire) a response. Personalize all your company’s interactions by using first names of the both the agent and the customer.

And last but certainly not least, implement a social media monitoring tool that captures social media mentions across all platforms. Even if your customers are mainly active on Twitter, there still might be a few talking to you on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can even implement a tool like a Facebook comment moderation tool. Don’t lose those interactions by focusing on just one platform. 

Dive in and start responding. When you do respond, do it quickly - even if you don’t have a resolution. In the social media landscape, customers are two times more likely to recommend a brand that gave a quick yet ineffective response than a slow, ineffective one. It turns out customers just want to know you are listening, even if you can’t answer their question right away.

And make sure your responses display honesty and empathy to your customer. They need to know their problem is important - even when you can’t fix it now. And if that’s the case, or you made a mistake, be honest and work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

There also may be cases where you have to move the inquiry to another channel, and when you do, be careful: forty-seven percent of customers report contacting a company several times as the main source of frustration in a poor customer service experience. Strive to keep interactions in the channel they started, but if you need more detail, make the call (or email).

Measure your success. As you build activity across social media platforms, make sure to measure what’s happening so you can see where you are performing well and where you might improve.

How long does it take you to respond, what is your resolution rate, and what is average time to resolution? Are you experiencing a high drop-off when trying to move customers from social media to email channels? What is your customer sentiment on social media - positive, negative, or neutral? These metrics can be your guide to finding what’s going well and what needs a little TLC.

Providing superior customer service is one of the building blocks of a successful business. Customers on social media are no different than those in your phone or email queue - they’re just contacting you in a difference place. All you need to do is apply those tried-and-true customer service strategies and tactics to social media.

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