LOCAL BUSINESS SUCCESS CENTER

Tips, trends and marketing advice to help you grow your business.

Social customer service is on the rise, and customers are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter, and other major social networks to make brand inquiries and complaints. While it may seem like extra work to have to manage yet another customer service channel, social media actually provides a unique opportunity for small businesses. When handled well, social customer service can boost your brand’s reputation, visibility, and engagement. The flip side is that when handled poorly, it can do a lot of damage to your image.

These 6 tips will help you use social customer service to benefit both your customers and your brand.

1. Respond Quickly

Research has shown that users who submit a customer service request on social expect an answer in real time—preferably within the hour the request is made. While you probably don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with customers hourly, you should monitor your social channels daily so that you can respond within 24 hours. A longer delay, and sentiment about your business will quickly decline.

2. Tag Users in Your Replies

Most social networks will trigger an email or in-app notification when a user is tagged in a post, so make sure to tag the customer in your reply to ensure that he or she sees it.

3. Provide a Resolution in-Network

If a customer asks you a question via Twitter, don’t tell them to call your store for an answer. If someone complains about a product on Facebook, don’t send them an email. Follow up with the customer on the channel where they originally inquired. Not only will it be a more coherent experience for the customer, but it will also allow other users of the network see the resolution play out—and positive resolutions can have a big impact on other consumers’ perceptions of your brand.

4. Be Specific

A generic cut-and-paste of an answer from your FAQ page isn’t enough to satisfy an online inquiry. Users expect a specific answer that takes their personal situation into account. Additionally, when you respond to a customer service inquiry on social, make sure that you’re specific about who you are, too. Reinforcing that you’re a real person being will humanize the experience and lend specificity to your conversation.

5. Show Some Love

As with any other customer service channel, make sure your replies are personal, sympathetic, and focused on solving the problem as efficiently as possible. Be genuine and helpful, and your audience will sense it—both the customer you’re helping and the spectators who are passively watching your interaction.

6. Listen up

Even if you aren’t receiving many active customer service requests, you can learn a lot just by listening to what people are saying about your business online. You can do this manually by looking at mentions on each social network, or by using a social listening tool to monitor feedback about your brand across channels. Listening to the online commentary about your business will provide valuable insights that can help you optimize your customer service and offerings without having to create a formal user survey.

The Bottom Line

Don’t think of social customer service as a headache—think of it as an opportunity. By providing your customers with timely, specific, useful feedback where they’re asking for help, you’ll show your social audience that customers matter to you. This is the type of brand reputation-boost that you can’t get from tooting your own horn. Let your actions convey your brand’s values, and you’ll start to build up a loyal consumer base on social over time.

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