Let’s talk about social media and customer service and how to get the most from it. here are 10 things to do if you’re getting into social customer service.
1. Listen effectively: If you know what your customer are saying about you, you can react appropriately. Listening to what your customers are saying about you is the very first step in getting customer service right, and social media is no different. Reputation monitoring can help you track how your brand’s reputation is faring on social channels, and what steps can be taken to improve it. It can also give you an idea of the channels over which your customers want to talk to you. The best monitoring services will separate the wheat from the chaff (and Twitter, for instance, can be full of chaff). If you respond directly to a comment then you legitimise it so be choosy about which battles you chose to fight on social channels. Prioritise responses based on the person’s influence on social channels and the severity and legitimacy of their issue.
2. A simple dedicated Facebook tab can help to deal with customer service issues. It’ll stop your main page getting clogged up with complaints and issues and gives people a clear platform to air gripes.
3. Resource social media channels properly, with people who are authorised to take action. Get the relevant areas of the business involved – this isn’t just a marketing channel. Consider who you need to involve from the technical support, sales, product development, promotions or PR teams. Research by Conversocial found that some of the biggest brands fail to respond to customers on Facebook. Our experience suggests that you have a few hours at the most to resolve a customer’s issue over social media – and probably much less on Twitter. So if you’re going to be credible on social channels for customer service issues, trained resource needs to be available at a time to suit the consumer. Tone and content needs to be consistent and there should be a clear escalation procedure in place to deal with potential problems.
4. Be responsive. Don’t create a ‘Talk to us! We’d love to hear your experiences!’ page and then leave comments there to rot. Fallout around the recent Papa John’s incident could’ve been minimised if it hadn’t taken the company so long to get its story straight.
5. Don’t be afraid to let customers talk to each other. Sometimes they’ll be able (and willing) to help each other out. (But check they’re telling each other the right things, and recognise and reward the efforts of your best contributors.) When setting and refining your approach, it might be worth inviting hand-picked customers to help.
6. Don’t shy away from criticism. No brand will be the subject of universal praise so be prepared to receive a complaint or two. Sometime, a negative can be turned into a positive.
7. Respond appropriately. There’s nothing like posting identical corporate responses to everyone who comments on your wall to get the community into a spin. Have some standardised issues and answers pre-prepared but tailor the actual responses to the individual. Don’t use inappropriate language and, most importantly, be appropriate in how you compensate customers.
8. Apologise if you’ve got something wrong: Don’t be afraid of using the ‘s’ word and don’t forget to keep people in touch with progress when you’re trying to right a wrong.
9. Ensure that strong social media guidelines are in place and that all staff are trained in social engagement. This will ensure consistency when responding to customer queries. It would also be useful to have a crisis management plan ready to be implemented should things go wrong.
10. Join up social customer service with other relevant business areas; social media is your real-time window on public opinion. Review comments, trends, remedies, competitors and new technologies quarterly to showcase best practice and refine your approach. And don’t forget to pass on this insight to significant others within your business, from the marketing and PR people to the HR people.