7 Ways to use social media for customer service

As part of effort to promote customer relationship management, we will be sharing some of the key elements needed for social media and customer service management.

According to Patton-Carson and Cuttica, along with Una Vaina Bien Spanish founder Mechi Annaís Estévez Cruz and social media expert Gerille Rosado, offered some strategies for small business owners who are looking to use social media as a customer service tool:

Build authentic customer relationships in a timely fashion.

Many businesses approach social media as another channel for self-promotion and don’t always respond when customers comment on their posts or tweet at them. Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to build real relationships by engaging in conversation.

While not responding at all can harm your brand, you also have to respond within a reasonable amount of time. According to research from Convince & Convert, 42% of consumers expect a response to a complaint on social media within 60 minutes, and nearly one-third expect a response within half an hour.

Use hashtags strategically.

Rosado said using a specific hashtag helps users search for their concerns under that hashtag. Hashtags help keep everything organized and easy to navigate, especially on platforms such as Twitter. You can add more information and curate content to the hashtag as well.

Wix, a web development site, named three types of hashtags to use: content, trending, and brand-specific. While it’s important to follow trending and content hashtags, especially during holiday seasons, it could be equally beneficial to create brand-specific hashtags for different campaigns. For instance, Wix uses #WixPhotography to promote its photography contests.

Focus on creating a customer advocate base.

If a customer has a bad experience with a company, one of the first things they are likely to do is write a negative review online. Rather than responding to negative comments, your business’s strategy should involve providing such excellent customer service that you create a strong, loyal customer base that will advocate for your brand if someone has something bad to say.

Hootsuite describes a customer advocacy base as a group of loyal, trusted customers and employees who can speak out in favor of your brand. This demographic is often untapped, as many organizations overlook the power of loyal brand advocates.

Be responsive.

When you respond to a customer complaint, listen closely to that customer, Patton-Carson advised. It’s vital to pay attention and let them know you’re listening. A lack of attentiveness contributes to a poor response, which reflects negatively on your brand. After all, when your brand replies to an individual user, it’s not just your followers who can see it.

No response is also considered a poor response. “Whether it’s an angry comment or a positive comment, people love being acknowledged and heard,” Patton-Carson said.

One little response with a thank-you, like, or emoji can have a huge impact on an individual scale, she said, as it lets the customer know that your brand is listening and receptive. The goal is to maintain activity and assure your followers, including potential customers, that your brand is active on social media and responsive to your audience.

Be available.

To respond effectively to customers, they have to be able to reach you in the first place. Brands often fall short on social customer service because they aren’t actively listening to and engaging with customers, Cuttica said.

Brands that want to deliver effective customer service on social media should use social media monitoring to flag all messages related to their company or products.

“Introducing automation through chatbots can help ease the burden on human customer service agents,” Cuttica said. “Striking the right balance [between] automation and accessible customer service agents, working hand in hand, will help brands respond more efficiently and effectively to every meaningful conversation.”

Inactivity means missed opportunities not only for positive interactions but also for easy profits. According to findings published in 2016 in the journal Business Research, brands that interact with customers on social media overall tend to be more profitable. (Twitter published similar conclusions about its users the same year.) Furthermore, social media interactions with customers have the potential to create a high return on investment, especially if you outsource social media management to a third-party company or have one employee dedicated to content creation and account moderation.

Take public conversations private.

Many angry or frustrated customers leave public comments on your Instagram and Facebook page or tweet them at your business. This can be a bad look for your company, especially if people repost or share these comments.

While you absolutely shouldn’t ignore these messages, you should not handle the entire encounter publicly. Show other customers that you value their input by sending an initial response publicly, requesting to continue the conversation privately. For example, if someone tweets about how their product arrived damaged, send a tweet back to apologize and tell them that a member of your customer service team reached out to them in their direct messages.

Even positive matters should be discussed in private, as it will show your customers you value their concerns or reviews and aren’t just looking for public praise. Take the time to foster a more personal customer service experience by speaking with customers one on one.

Set up a separate handle for customer service support.

Many businesses have separate social media account for customer service purposes. For example, your normal account might be @yourbusiness, while your customer service account might be @yourbusiness_help. That way, customer demands or concerns can be organized and flagged more easily. Additionally, your customer service team can get to work on issues quickly by focusing on one account.

To increase this dedicated account’s reach, make sure you include a link to the profile in your main account’s bio to direct customers there for support. While you still might get some requests on your main account, you can pass them along to the right team to ensure every customer receives the proper help.

Also, you should respond to every customer service complaint or message with your customer service account, even if the customer contacted the wrong one, as it will show others how you address requests as well.

Key Takeaway:

To use social media as a customer service tool, be authentic, responsive, and attentive, and set up a separate customer service support account to direct customers to a more detailed private conversation.

Using social media for customer service allows you to respond to customers’ questions and concerns and build a loyal customer base.

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