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How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

Eighty-five percent of small to medium size business users, use their Twitter for customer service.  At least, that’s what they say.  But simply having a Twitter Support page doesn’t make you a customer service pro.  You have to use social pages to engage with over two-thirds of internet users today who say they go to Twitter and Facebook first to make direct complaints to businesses.

That stat is on the rise. The younger the generation, the more they expect an instant, personalized response. Gen Z is the ‘On-Demand’ generation. That’s how they play the game. The question is, are your clients even in it?

With the rise of social media based chatbots and e-commerce, especially during the holidays, businesses of all sizes can’t afford to not be responding, constantly.

Why is Social Media a Necessary Part of Customer Service?

More than ever, customers are using social to reach a brand whenever they have questions, have an issue with products or services, or just want to leave feedback about a purchase or experience.

Social media is where consumers are already spending their time, and social media is where brands are initiating a lot of contact with them. It’s only natural that consumers expect to receive a response when they initiate contact through social media in return.

Social media is convenient. Social media cuts right through the hassles customers encounter when they try to find a customer service representative for a brand through other means. Nobody likes hunting down those customer service phone numbers. One in three social media users prefer social media customer care services to telephone or email — and 32% of consumers think the phone is the most painful way to handle a problem in the first place. Contact forms and email seem impersonal, and the wait on a response can be agonizingly slow. Social media offers easy, back-and-forth communication when consumers have questions or brands need more information about an issue. You can’t beat it.

Communication on social media is almost immediate. Social communication is easily tailored to the individual and far more constructive. Customers can ask their questions — and answer them — in real time.

How Your Brand can Make Social Media a Key Part of Service

Year by year, customer expectations surrounding service are rising. Consumers expect to get a response in 30 minutes — and they expect round-the-clock support.

This is the kind of information that makes you aware that you can’t treat social service as an add-on task each day. Social service has to become part of your standard of customer care.

Here’s how you start meeting those customer expectations right away:

Utilize Chatbots

One of the primary problems companies can have with social media as a service is an inconsistent response. A good chatbot can help provide the near-immediate service that consumers expect. That can prevent your clients from having a lot of customer messages that get repeated — or simply go unanswered.

Just make sure that the chatbot is actually doing the job you need it to do. A good chatbot is a thing of beauty but a bad chatbot can just become one more pet peeve for customers to hate when they’re trying to get service.

A chatbot needs to actually be responsive and useful. In essence, it should be able to answer simple service questions, provide instructions, take messages and give updates. For more information on what makes a chatbot good, read this.

Be Responsive

Consumers have a tremendous amount of power on social media, and they want to be heard. Every single social post, comment, or question needs some kind of acknowledgment. A lack of response on social is the same thing as ignoring a customer standing right in front of you.

Marketers can retweet praise on Twitter, respond to customer experiences on Facebook and generally find ways to interact with customers around their social feedback toward a brand. Each interaction on social media, no matter how small, tells the consumer that they have value — that they matter. Marketers need to constantly reinforce that message through social to be effective.

Stay Positive

Brands — no matter how perfect — are going to see negative comments on social media from time to time. Marketers need to know how to handle negative comments and feedback before it happens to mitigate the potential damage.

Here’s a good way to approach it: Ask what you would do if a customer were complaining in a store where others could overhear? Social media amplifies that exact situation. Social feeds have the potential of putting a single complaint in front of hundreds of customers at once.

Move negative interactions with consumers offline whenever possible. Quickly acknowledge the customer’s issue, show care and empathy, and offer a solution that can take place via a private channel.

Sometimes brands just can’t seem to get away from a negative customer interaction, however. They may even be the target of an online “troll” who wants to simply create trouble. When brands are just being harangued, marketers need to resolve this issue by killing the customer with kindness — even if that kindness seems unwarranted. A positive reaction to someone’s hostile interactions can actually help your client gain emotional currency from other customers who see the exchange.

Humanize Your Responses

Finally, marketers shouldn’t overlook the importance of greetings and signatures within each communication.

If your customer gives a name or has a name as part of their social profile, make sure that it’s used within greetings. When you end a communication, make sure that it is signed off with a name or initials. Not only does a signature humanize your response, it helps consumers feel like there’s real accountability for the conversation or problem.

Personal touches are an important part of any relationship-building process. Consumers don’t want to reach out to a nameless, faceless entity. Consumers want to be able to address someone directly and feel like they’ve made a genuine connection with someone.

Final Thoughts

Social media’s ability to raise awareness for a brand and attract new customers has helped breathe new life into many marketing campaigns. However, brands know they also need to focus on nurturing these relationships through great customer service — and social should play a big role in that process today.

Brands tend to fall short on social media as a vehicle for service by just not engaging actively enough, often enough, and consistently enough with their customers. Figure out the right balance between automated chatbots and personal responses in order to give each consumer the efficient, effective service they deserve. In today’s world, online interactions can be just as important — or more so — than physical ones.

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