Most businesses see social media as a marketing tool to find prospects, generate more leads, and get more customers. It’s true, social media plays a big role in connecting with new people and warming them up to become potential clients. You can increase your brand awareness, create great content that will pique people’s curiosity about your products or services, and showcase your personality, knowledge, and all of the amazing benefits you offer.
However, social media is about so much more than attracting new customers. It should also play an important role in your existing customer’s journey. We’re talking about customer service. Research shows that 67% of customers have used social media as a customer service channel because it’s convenient, fast, and personal.
So, you might be wondering how to get started. Don’t worry! After you read through this post, you’ll have a solid understanding of how social media can become your next customer service channel, too!
Why Is Social Media Important for Customer Service?
Having a social media profile for your business isn’t just about how accessible you are for your audience. That is an important part of it (people know they can always reach someone in a reasonable amount of time on social media) but it’s also a platform to talk to your customers and feel more connected.
When you have an opportunity to speak with your customers on this level, it really increases the chances that they’ll become fans and spread the word about their positive experience with your brand.
Because social media is already such a huge part of everyone’s lives, it’s much easier for customers to send a quick message there rather than placing a call or sending an email. And, when you make things easy and convenient for your customers, it helps to improve their overall customer experience.
Customer service plays a big role in your business’ success. Making your customers happy will increase their loyalty and make it more likely that they’ll refer their friends and family. As small business owners, we all know how much word-of-mouth referrals can help our business grow.
If you’re not convinced yet, Sprout Social recently published that “failing to respond [to social media messages from customers] can give you a 43% decrease in customer advocacy while a reply can increase it by 20%.” So, are you ready to step up your game?
How to Use Social Media as a Customer Service Tool
Customer service on social media is pretty straightforward and intuitive for most small businesses. The advantage is that small businesses don’t usually have very complicated logistics processes or a huge staff. It’s literally just as easy as having a few people watch for incoming messages, comments, and tweets.
However, there are a few best practices that you should keep in mind. There are things that will not only make your customers feel special but also streamline your customer service operations which can be important if you ever need to expand or hire new employees.
10 Best Practices for Customer Service On Social Media
1. Define Your Brand’s Voice
If you’re a solopreneur, it’s pretty easy to figure out your brand’s voice and stick with it. For larger businesses, like a coffee shop, for example, it becomes a bit trickier. No matter what, you should take some time to list out your qualities as a business and how you want to be perceived.
If you want to be seen as cool and friendly, this is the approach you should always have when talking to your audience, whether they are already your customers or not. Maybe you want your approach to be more professional and series. Either way, you really should understand who your brand is and how you want to be seen and how you want your customer to feel before you can have a single conversation.
2. Make The Process Smooth
Everyone who hates customer service hates it for the same reason: it’s no fun trying to convince someone to give you what you think you deserve. There’s so much bureaucracy involved and you have to jump through so many hoops to get your problem solved.
You can really “wow” your customers by making customer service a more delightful experience. Instead of causing stress, make them feel good – even if they’ve had a bad experience – and make the process as simple as possible. Hear them out, don’t ask too many questions, and ultimately, just help them. It’s all they want.
3. Make It Easy for Customers to Find You
Don’t hide your contact information. Make it easy for them to find you in as many ways as possible. On your website, make sure it’s simple to find your phone number, email address, and all of your social media links. Allow people to send you messages on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page. Really show people that you’re there for them by making it simple to start a conversation in whichever way they feel most comfortable.
4. Reply Quickly
One of the reasons customers prefer social media for customer service is because it’s fast. They don’t need to wait for days to get an answer like they do with email. They don’t need to spend 60 minutes tied up on hold to reach someone on the phone. They can simply send a message whenever they want and get a reply fairly quickly. While they’re waiting, they can do other things. But, do your best to reply quickly. If you take too long, they will feel ignored and it will impact their customer experience. If you can’t have someone constantly checking social media, at least set up a few times per day to check your messages and reply to customers.
5. Create Automatic Messages
If your business is offline for the evening, holiday, or weekend, you can set up some automatic messages to let people know that you’ve received their message and give them a realistic expectation as to how long it will take you to get back to them. Just make sure you actually get back to them as soon as you can. If you can respond sooner than you promised, it will be a pleasant surprise!
6. Answer Every Message
I know, sometimes, there are too many messages and we don’t feel like replying to all of them. But think about this: if someone walked into your business and asked you a question, would you ignore them? Of course not.
Not all messages and comments deserve your full attention and energy, but if you should still try to reply to all of them, even if it’s just a “like” or smiley face. If you receive negative comments or messages, you should definitely take time to thoughtfully reply. Be kind and understanding – and don’t disagree with your customer. Always respond positively and try to correct the problem as transparently as possible.
7. Have Your Answers Ready
Some questions or problems come up more often than others, so create a document where you store answers to the most frequently asked questions. You can refer to it when you receive a message from someone and share the document with everyone who works in a customer service capacity.
For example, let’s say you’re a yoga teacher and your students often ask for recommendations on where to buy a mat. You can have a message template that says something like: “Hey, John Doe! Here’s a list of some of my favorite yoga mats and where to get them. I hope it helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!”
Whatever you do, just don’t make your answers sound robotic. There’s nothing more frustrating than expecting a human interaction and getting a message that sounds like a bot.
8. Be Transparent
People know when you’re lying – even on social media. As a business, it’s your job to be honest and transparent with your customers. If something happened, tell them the reason… the real reason. Being transparent and showing what you’re willing to do to solve the problem for them will make the situation blow over much more smoothly.
9. Be Solution-Oriented
People are reaching out to you because they want a solution to their problem. Approach each customer service interaction with a solution-oriented mindset. Have some options available to offer your customers if something goes wrong, but be flexible and hear people out. At the end of the day, the best solution is the one that’s going to make your customer the happiest (within reason).
10. Be Flexible
People want to feel like they are special and they want you to treat them as such. This is why you don’t want to give your customers general answers when they reach out to you. They want to feel like they have been heard and that their particularities have been taken into consideration. So, make sure you’re flexible and that you actually put yourself into your clients’ shoes.
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