If social media isn’t a crucial part of your customer service offering yet, it’s time to reconsider. More and more consumers are utilizing social media customer service to reach out to the businesses they rely on. 54 percent of social media users utilize various social media platforms to research different products. So it’s important to be where your customers are. 

By having a strong social media customer service offering, you’ll be able to serve those potential and current customers quicker in a communication channel they are comfortable with. In order to do so effectively, your business needs to make sure it follows best practices for providing customer service on social media. In this article, we’ll provide tips for how you can do that effectively through the following sections:

 

 

 

Why Great Customer Service Matters

 

Customer service should always be a priority for your business, no matter what. But as technology continues to evolve, more channels for customers to reach out to business will continue to emerge. That means it’s more important than ever to ensure your business stays on top of every customer service avenue.

Effective customer service means you’ll be able to respond to your customers’ complaints and questions quickly and efficiently. By serving your existing customers well, you’ll likely earn their loyalty. 

Customer retention is key to your business’ success. Repeat customers are more likely to spend money with your business. In fact, Hubspot reports that increasing your customer retention by as little as 5 percent can help your profits increase by 25 percent.

When you provide a customer service offering strong enough to foster customer retention, you’ll have happier customers. Happy customers will undoubtedly speak highly of your business. In fact, as Esteban Kolsky reports, 72% of consumers say that they will share a positive experience with a brand with 6+ people. Odds are, some of those referrals will turn into new customers, helping your revenue increase even further.

Of course, poor customer service will lead to the opposite — customers will tell their friends not to use your business. Your customer service team is the face of your company. 33% of Americans say that it only takes a single instance of poor service for them to consider switching companies. Customer churn hurts. HelpScout reported that US companies lose about $62 billion per year because of poor customer service. 

It’s essentially a chain reaction that leads back to the strength of your customer support. Of course, keeping those new customers happy can lead to even more customers. Strong customer service can put your business’ revenue on an unstoppable upward trajectory. 

Implementing social media customer service on every channel your organization is present on can make a significant difference here. Social media is a simple way to connect with customers, ensuring you can meet their needs as quickly as possible. 

As smallbizgenius reports, 56% of customers stay loyal to brands which “get them.” Giving customers the ability to reach out to you on social media channels they are comfortable with will help you show them that you get them. Following best practices for social media gives your team the best chance at success.

   

Best Practices for Social Media Driven Customer Service

Here’s a list of best practices for social customer service and how you can effectively implement each strategy:

 

Use Social Media to Improve Your Response Time

Source: GrooveHQ

Customer response time matters. With so much customer service moving to the internet, customers are looking for instant gratification. In fact, 75% of customers seeking support online expect help within five minutes. As technology continues to evolve and customers continue to rely on it, they will likely begin to expect help even quicker.

That’s why the average speed of answer (ASA) is one of the most important metrics a customer support team can track. If customers wait too long, that’s considered to be a poor customer experience. Customer service teams typically set a service level agreement (SLA) to ensure they are responding to customers as quickly as possible.

While ASA is typically a measurement used for inbound phone calls, it’s being adapted for social media as well. Customers have different expectations when it comes to social media, which means it’s a little harder to please everyone when it comes to social media customer service. So the best strategy to take is to proactively reduce your social media response time.

As Smart Insights reports, “Over a third (37%) of consumers who use social media to complain or question brands expect to get a response in under 30 minutes. The report shows that the majority of respondents expect a response the same day via social media, with 31% wanting one in under two hours and 26% expecting to hear back in under four hours. In fact, only 6% don’t ever expect to get a response to a complaint made on social media.” 

Luckily, various social media tools make it easy to keep tabs on your team’s response time. You’ll have the ability to automate responses to common messages and delegate the best-equipped team members to specific social media platforms. 

This will ensure you can catch inquiries and comments quicker, and you’ll have the appropriate team members on hand to respond as quickly as possible. That quick response time is key. Hubspot says that 73 percent of customers say that time is a critical factor in how they determine a good customer service experience from a poor one. 

A quick response time can make the difference between customer churn and customer referral. If you utilize the ability social media gives you to respond quickly, you’ll provide a positive customer experience. But customers don’t like waiting. In fact, they expect to be helped within 30 minutes on social media. If you don’t abide by that, you can likely expect negative comments to follow. 

 

Don’t Leave Negative Comments and Reviews Unanswered

Despite your best efforts, your business is still bound to receive negative comments and reviews. As uncomfortable as it may be, these comments should still be addressed. If you keep these comments unanswered for too long, it could start a snowball of similar comments. 

As BusySeed states, it’s vital to manage your online reputation. Answering both negative and positive comments shows you care about your customers. Ignoring the comments shows that you are not customer-focused. Social media can help your business address these comments in a timely manner and prove you value your customers’ opinions.

One of the most efficient ways that social media can help you stay on top of negative comments is through social listening. This is the process of monitoring all social media channels you’re present on for mentions of your brand.

You’re notified of a mention if a customer tags you in their post. But if they don’t, it’d be easy for your business to miss the comment. But with social listening, you’ll be notified if your brand is simply mentioned in a comment. 

Social listening is offered on most social media management tools. Not only can you keep an eye out for your company’s name, but these tools allow you to listen for other keywords, including misspellings of your brand’s name. This means you can adjust your keywords to ensure you pick up negative and positive comments.

While it’s tempting to ignore negative comments, it may be more important to address those than your positive comments. Taking those comments seriously proves that you care about your customers’ experience. 

Reputation X reports that many people are willing to overlook negative reviews or comments if the company addresses them. That means that social media customer service will give you the opportunity to take a customer you may have otherwise lost and turn them into a brand ambassador.  

 

Use Social Media Monitoring

 

Social media monitoring should go hand-in-hand with social listening. Where social listening allows you to spot comments that mention you but don’t tag you, social monitoring strictly picks up comments in which your business is tagged. When a customer tags you on social media, they clearly want your attention. Those customers expect an answer, so social media monitoring tools help to ensure you catch those mentions and respond accordingly.

Here are some of the top social media monitoring tools on the market today:

 

Sprout Social

 

 

This is one of the most widely-used social media monitoring platforms today. G2 included the tool in its list of top 50 marketing products for 2020. In addition to monitoring, it offers reporting, social media management, and follower analysis.

 

Hootsuite

This social media monitoring tool was included on the previously mentioned G2 list as well. Hootsuite is used by more than 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies. The tool offers social media monitoring, social media listening, and social media management. 

 

Zoho Social

This platform offers a free plan, setting itself apart from Sprout Social and Hootsuite. The tool also provides the unique ability to track revenue from your social media marketing efforts. Additional features include a publishing calendar, bulk scheduler, and repeat post feature. 

 

Pick Your Battles on Social Media

 

Source: Hootsuite

 

While it’s important to respond to negative comments on social media, it’s also vital that you can tell the difference between true complaints and trolls. A troll is someone who purposely posts something negative on social media in hopes to get a rise out of other users. These people have no stake in your business. They simply want to upset you or other users. 

When building a strong social media customer service offering, it’s vital to establish guidelines for handling trolls online. Before deciding how to deal with trolls, you must first ensure this is in fact a troll and not an upset customer. Trolls will typically exaggerate in their comments, make it personal, and sometimes even use profanity in their posts. 

It’s a poor look for your social media accounts to be spammed by trolls, so it’s important for your team to create guidelines for responding to these comments. Some trolls are clearly just comments from bots. In that case, it’s not even worth it to respond to them. Those are the comments that can be left unanswered.

For those comments you want to address, you need to carefully decide how to respond to them. One easy way is to respond with facts. The most effective way to diffuse a troll is to provide evidence as to why a troll’s comments are incorrect. If it aligns with your brand’s online voice, you can even respond with humor. As long as you find the type of humor that strikes a chord with your audience, this can work to your advantage.

But in the case that trolls commenting on your social media accounts are particularly harmful or hateful, the best thing to do is block them. Any social media management tool should give you the ability to do this. Blocking these trolls ensures that your valuable customers remain comfortable on your social media accounts. 

 

Humanize Your Communication

Humanizing your brand is a great way to connect to your customers on a personal level. Humans want to interact with other humans, even online. Coming off as too robotic on social media may turn off customers from engaging with your social media account. Luckily, it’s easy to add some human touches to your social media customer service.

The best way to do this is by tweaking the way you comment and things you post online. Hiring a dedicated social media manager can keep your brand’s image consistent online. They’ll be well-versed in the many strategies you can use to boost your social media accounts.

One easy strategy to implement is showing off your employees on your accounts. This is a great way to remind your customers that there is a real person operating the account. Your employees are your strongest brand ambassadors. Social media is a great way to show them in action. Use your accounts to show fun behind-the-scenes moments and quotes from your employees about why they love working for your company. People will respond to that. 

In addition to showing real people are behind your social media accounts, you need to talk like a real person online as well. Get to know your target demographic and learn how they talk online. Mimic those interactions and make sure you are speaking at their level. As HubSpot’s Corey Eridon says, don’t speak in business jargon. That doesn’t make you sound smart or important, but inaccessible.

Another great way to relate to your audience is to comment on appropriate trending topics. Social media platforms will share what’s trending in your area — pay attention to that. If there’s a way to tie that back to your business’ product or service, you will undoubtedly catch your customers’ eyes. 

 

Track and Measure Your Success with Different Tools

 

The way you approach social media customer service shouldn’t be any different than how you handle other customer support channels — namely, you need to find an effective way to measure your success. There’s a number of metrics your business can measure to gauge how successful your social customer service is. 

It’s important to track the volume of your business’ inbound and outbound messages on social media. Keep tabs on the percentage of customer service-related messages vs. all other inbound messages. You should also keep tabs on how many responses your business sends. Tracking your message volume will help to provide a baseline for other metrics. 

Your team should also track your average handling time. This measures how long it takes to process an issue. This is a common customer service metric but is measured differently on social media than other channels since it depends on how quickly customers respond to your initial reply. This metric shows how proficient your dedicated social media customer service agents are at handling cases.

On the customer side, you should be measuring both customer satisfaction (CSAT) and your net promoter score (NPS). Your customer satisfaction score can be found simply by asking customers who reached out on social media to rate their overall satisfaction with your business. A net promoter score measures how likely customers are to recommend your product or service to their friends. 

These are independent numbers, but both can be measured through a simple survey, asking customers to rank each number on a scale from 1-10. These numbers are a foolproof way to see how you are doing with your customers. 

You can also reach back out to the customers respond with high NPS and CSAT scores and ask for customer testimonials. Positive reviews from customers are some of the best things you can share on your social media accounts. 

 

Use a Variety of Tools to Ensure Effective Customer Service

Social media customer service requires multiple tools to get the job done the right way. An active and well-thought-out social media presence is crucial to a strong social customer service offering. Here are some of the kinds of tools you’ll need to accomplish that. 

As previously mentioned, social media monitoring is key to your social customer service presence. Not only do you need a strong tool, but you need a solid plan to carry out your monitoring. This makes sure your customers feel heard. 

With a tool that helps you catch all mentions of your organization, you can sort through each message and pull out the most important ones. Responding to those key messages will build a foundation of trust with your customers and encourage them to purchase your organization’s product or service. That’s because, as Sprout Social reports, consumers will be 21% more likely to purchase from you if you respond to their social media posts.

One way to quickly respond to customers’ messages is by automating responses to common inquiries. Various chatbot tools will allow you to create automated workflows for unique conversational components. It’s kind of like IVR for social media. 

These chatbots are able to guide customers through basic conversations, offering them support without human intervention. These chatbots will commonly integrate with private message options, such as Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct messaging.

You want to find a tool that enables you to schedule posts ahead of time. Unless you have a dedicated social media customer service account, your social media pages should be more than responding to customer service-related inquiries. According to Hootsuite, 52% of online brand discovery happens in public social feeds. The best way to ensure your brand is discovered is by posting frequent and relevant messages. Social media management tools will allow you to schedule posts to make this easier. 

 

Conclusion: Reach Your Audience Easier with Social Media Customer Service

Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. According to Backlinko, there are 3.81 billion people actively using social media in 2020. That’s up 9.2 percent from 2019. New social media platforms are constantly emerging, meaning that number will likely continue to rise every year. 

Naturally, you want to be where your audience is. That means it’s important to build out your social media customer service offering accordingly. It allows you to hear what your customers have to say without having to reach out to them directly and ask. On top of that, you can engage with them and build a community for your customers. That leads to a more positive customer experience, and studies show a good customer experience leads to a significant ROI.

But of course, social customer service should not replace your other customer service channels. They should all work to create a solid omnichannel customer service experience. Take a look at this article to learn why it matters