How Social Media Can Be Used as a Customer Service Tool

How Social Media Can Be Used as a Customer Service Tool

Increasingly, social media is being used as a cost-effective and user-friendly customer service tool. Learn how your company can benefit.

How did this trend start?

In the early days of Twitter and Facebook, brands signed on to promote products and to test out new styles of marketing to online savvy audiences. As those readers started to use the same platforms to complain about problems with those brands, smart companies turned these negatives into a positive. They began responding to questions, providing technical service and building positivity about their brand by enacting “above and beyond” customer service.

What Has Changed in the World of Customer Service?

These days, many customers prefer texting, emailing or writing short messages on social media, instead of dialing a 1-800 number and dealing with hold music or getting transferred from department to department.
According to recent statistics, 33 percent of customers prefer to contact brands using their social media rather than the telephone.

There used to be a time when customers would be pleasantly surprised to receive a reply from a company on social media. Now they expect it. But it is more than worth it for brands to offer superior customer service over social media.

According to a Bain study, customers who engage with brands on social media spend up to 40 percent more with that company.

It is also worth your while to amp up the quality of your customer service. Instead of offering and responding to inquiries with “adequate” service, think about what it would be worth to provide “best in class” customer service.

According to a recent McKinsey study, shifting a customer’s experience from “average” to “wow” is worth up to 50 percent more on metrics like the probability of repeat purchases.

Of course, there is a dark side to social media. It is easy for social media users to complain about your brand, products or quality of service. And unlike the telephone, everyone that follows them can see those complaints.

Great companies use these complaints as an opportunity to turn active online dissenters into public advocates for their brand. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of hustle, but statistics show that it can be worth it in the long run.

So how do you implement an effective social media customer service strategy?

Let’s dive in:

Be Where Your Customers Are.
Do searches on the major social media sites for mentions of your brand and interactions with your brand to determine where your customers are.

Twitter and Facebook will cover most brands, but if you have a huge following on other channels (for instance, Google+ or Instagram), you may want to add support for those channels too.

It is important not to overstretch your team, though. The most important thing is that you can support the channels on which you choose to operate.

If you offer customer support on Facebook, but only one person is monitoring your feed for 8 hours a day, why would you even bother?

If using Twitter, use a secondary handle to deal with CS.
Your team should be searching and replying to customer complaints in real time. This should always be manned, and your team should be able to respond within 5 minutes or so. Customers do not want to hang around for hours waiting for a response about their issue.

You can hire a virtual receptionist firm, which can monitor your social media channels 24 hours per day.
When issues arise, reply to the customer’s tweet publicly, then take the chat to DM. That way, you avoid clogging up everyone’s timeline with your CS tweets and can exchange information like phone or account numbers if needed.

Be friendly and helpful!
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t help your brand if you appear defensive or try to blame the customer. Do your best to solve their problems in the most positive way possible.

These positive moments can have long-reaching effects. Check out this tweet from JetBlue. Do you think their social team secured the company a life-long customer? I do.

Personalize the interaction.
By including information like a first name or even initials, you can help remind the customer they are speaking with a real person. This makes the interaction more personal, and also allows your customer service team to inject their personalities into the interaction. This leads to better branding for your company, better company morale and a better experience for the customer.

Audit your CS results.
Every week or so, do an audit of your company’s customer service interactions. If you find something in those interactions that is not up to par with your standards, address it immediately with the employee or the firm you have hired. If there are common complaints with the product that keep popping up, bring it up to the appropriate team to solve the problem at the source.

In this way, social media customer service can be a boon to your product development team. You can learn about new ways customers might be using your products, and about how you can improve your products to serve your target audience better.

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