For businesses, social media is a platform which can boost sales, marketing, branding and customer support all at once, if done well, and if not done well, it can harm just as much.
Did you know that just on Facebook, 5 new profiles are being created every second? That’s how powerful social media is.
As we all try harder to build a more customer-centric organization, and as long as customers are thriving on social media, businesses don’t have a choice but to embrace this powerful tool.
Using social media to provide great customer service and experience can bring multifold results for your business.
So what are the best practices of providing customer support on social media?
Here we go:
1. Ensure that your social media team knows the product well
I have often encountered social media teams that give vague and generic responses to customers, probably because they don’t know much about the product themselves.
The problem with that is it doesn’t add any value and leaves a bad impression on your social media audience.
One solution is to for the social media team to seek the help of the product team every time a complex problem arises. But from my personal experience, I will advocate a different solution where you take the time to train and educate your social media team.
Here are some tips:
- Let your social media team sit in on meetings with the product team.
- Have them experience and use the product/service for themselves. At my startup Hiver, we insist that all the employees, even in marketing and sales, use our product on a first-hand basis every day to understand it better.
- Create training programs or information sessions to help the understand the length and breadth of the product/service.
- If they don’t know the answer to the customer’s questions, instead of giving a flaky response, ask them to forward it to someone who can solve the problems.
Remember, your responses must add value and solve problems.
2. Invest in a 24/7 social media response team
True, ideally you can allow yourself a response time of 24 – 48 hrs for a customer query, but consider this – what do you think will impress your customer the most – you solving their problem within hours, be it night or day, or you solving their problem after a day or two?
Providing customer service on social media is a powerful business tool, which can help you generate good word-of-mouth, and there is no customer acquisition tool that is more powerful than a great word-of-mouth.
Consider this, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. [Ogilvy/Google/TNS]
Remember, solving customer problems promptly can help you generate a great word-of-mouth and so, employ a team that works 24/7 to ensure that you respond to a customer even in the middle of the night if need be.
3. Use social media to change a negative review to a positive one
We must learn to address each and every customer’s point of view, even if we don’t necessarily agree with it.
When customer leaves a negative review or a nasty comment, don’t see it as a threat but see it as an opportunity to show your customers how seriously you take their opinions and thoughts.
For example, a customer had a bad experience at your hotel and tweeted a nasty comment about it. Let’s say it wasn’t your fault at all, but even so it’s your brand image and reputation that’s in the spotlight. So what should you do? Try to get a positive result out of that negative interaction.
Here are a few tips on how:
- Start with an apology, even if it’s not your fault.
- Ask them how you can make up for it – look for a second chance to impress the customer.
- Don’t take the issue offline – try to solve it openly.
- If it’s a big issue, a response from the CEO of the company would be more impressive than one from the customer support team.
4. Use social media to throw some spotlight on your customers
If a customer does something cool with your product, make it a point to put it on social media for everyone to read. Why? This way you are humanizing your product and showing everyone how impactful your product can be.
Also, when you throw a spotlight on your customer, you make them feel special, exclusive and cared for. It helps form an emotional and a very personalized connection with them.
When sharing your customer stories on social media, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Be very modest – don’t promote yourself, promote the customer.
- Use visuals like photos or videos; plain articles won’t be as impactful.
- Be a little dramatic – craft a compelling and impactful story.
- Don’t forget to tag the customer – readers need to know that you are talking about a real person.
Here are some more tips that are worth keeping in mind:
- Have an omnichannel knowledge base – you must keep track of the customer’s activity across various platforms. For example, if a customer calls you regarding a problem, and your customer service team is able to quote a tweet or a post the customer made, it would have a lasting impression on them.
If a customer leaves a suggestion for improvement on your Facebook page, for example, offer them a reward or a cordial thanks for doing that.
- Always try to reduce the customer effort. If a customer asks a question and the answer to it is on your blog, direct them and guide them to the blog instead of saying ‘Please check our blog for more information’.
And a few things to not do:
- Don’t buy fake followers just for the numbers. Authenticity is the key to trust.
- Don’t go overboard with social media automation – you may end up sounding impersonal and like a robot.
- Don’t leave the customer hanging for days, if it’s going to take a while to solve the problem, let them know that.
- Don’t try to dodge responsibility for a mistake – own up to it and make amends.
By providing exceptional service on social media platforms that your customers frequent often, you open up the possibility to build great relationships with your customers, generate an exceptionally positive word of mouth and build a loyal customer base – the three essential requirements for a thriving business.