Great customer service is the key to keeping everybody happy but in our changing world where customers are increasingly online, gone are the days of in store help desks, telephone helplines and even email assistance. Customers want their customer service online on social media and wise businesses know that wherever your customers go, you should follow. Enter social customer service.
Social customer service means transferring your customer help desk from your store to your social media profiles. A recent report by Accent Marketing revealed some staggering facts about social customer service – that nearly a third of customers use Facebook to contact a customer service representative, that half of those people believe Facebook is the fastest way to solve customer service issues and that nearly half of those expect to have their comment or query answered within an hour. With statistics like that, any business that does not consider social media a customer service tool should be changing their tune and getting on board with social customer service – fast. But how do you do that?
Getting started with social customer service
1. Create your social customer service strategy.
Many people think creating your social media pages is the first step in executing your social customer service plan, but it’s not. The first thing to decide is how you’re going to approach your online customer service.
– What kind of tone are you going to use?
– How are you going to respond to happy customers?
– How are you going to respond to angry customers?
– How are you going to find out what people are saying about you in the first place?
– What time are your online customer service channels going to be open?
– How long is it going to take us to respond to each query?
Remember, customers expect a response within an hour, regardless of whether it’s day or night. It’s important to let them know exactly when you’re open and give them realistic expectations of when they’ll get a response. For most customers, that’s usually perfectly acceptable. Once you’ve created your plan, make sure it fits into your existing social media strategy and that anyone in your business who’s responsible for your social media channels is trained in on the plan.
2. What channels are you going to use?
Are you a financial services company? Then the visually driven social media channel Pinterest is probably not for you. When it comes to offering social customer service, it’s important to pick the right channels – the channels that your customers are actually on.
Overall, Facebook is the preferred customer service network in the U.S., but Tuenti is popular in Spain, Nasza-Klasa is popular in Poland, so it’s important to profile your target market to see where you potential customers are hanging out.
You might even consider creating separate social media profiles for general interaction and customer service. Many companies have adopted this practice recently, allowing them to easily keep track of everything and have a clear point of contact for customers. Once you’ve decided this, let your customers know. There’s little point in having great social media profiles for customer service if none of your customers know about it. Why not send them an email newsletter announcing the service or put a link to your customer service page on your existing social media profiles? Make it easy for the customer.
3. Keep track of your profiles
Once you have your plan in place and your profiles set up, make sure you’re dedicated to responding on these channels. Setting up customer service profiles and then not responding to people on it will look a lot worse than if you never had any customer service profiles to begin with, so stay dedicated to them.
Keep in mind that even if you let your customers know about your new profiles, it’s possible not all of them got the message. That’s why it’s still important to keep up your digital listening strategy, so you can locate people who may still be asking your company questions through other channels.
Doing social customer service well
Although the needs of each business are different, when it comes to doing social customer service well, there are a few golden rules to follow.
1. Always respond
Always respond to things people say about you as quickly as possible. This includes the good, the bad and even the ugly. Gone are the days of traditional media when a big budget and an iron fist could squash negative comments. In our hyper connected world, deleting comments will be viewed negatively by your customers and word will spread rapidly that you did it.
Doing it will make that angry customer even angrier, will make you look like you don’t really care about your customer or at worst, make you look like you have a bad service that you’re trying to hide. There’s always an appropriate way to respond to someone and how you respond should be decided in your social customer service strategy.
2. Don’t defect – educate
There’s nothing worse than asking someone a question only to have your question defected. A surprising number of businesses still do this, or meet their customer with a generic response which adds nothing of value to the conversation. A better strategy is to just give people the knowledge they need. If you don’t know the answer, it’s better to just say that you’re going to go find the answer, rather than ignore them or recite some generic business garb.
3. Always say thank you
When someone says something nice about you, follows you on Twitter, re-pins your pin, or likes your photo on Instagram, say thanks! It’s nice to be nice and being nice will foster great feeling about your company, boost your brand and improve your reputation.
4. Talk like a human
Social media is interactive, it’s engaging, it’s personal -it’s social. The worst thing you can do in this kind of environment is to baffle people with corporate babble, respond to them with needless formality or bore them with lack of wit. Be personable, helpful and engaging. Let your customers know you care and they will care about you too.
The bottom line is simple – for your business to be exceptional you have to offer exceptional customer service and social customer service is what your customer expects and deserves. Interacting with the customer when it suits you is not enough – the modern customer wants more. They want to interact with you, ask questions when they want to and get exceptional customer service when they need it through social media. So if you’re not onboard the social customer service bandwagon yet, now’s the time to hop on.
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