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Using social media channels as a customer service tool

Communicating and having meaningful interactions with your customer base is a business function that is just as important as marketing or delivering quality service. Keeping open channels where customers can contact your business representatives and have questions answered promotes trust and loyalty.

Gaining customer confidence and building strong relationships can give your business a good reputation and by being completely transparent, authenticity is maintained. Businesses that use social media as a customer interaction platform benefit from real-time and very public communications with users.

If the interaction is positive it creates a fantastic impression of your company to onlookers, if it is negative, it can be highly uncomfortable. However, both versions take place in full view of the public eye, and in the case of negative conversations, it offers an excellent opportunity to correct the customer’s issue and emerge victorious with your reputation intact.

Managing user problems in this way can actually have the effect of gaining customers for your business as people respect the way that the issue was handled. It gives potential users a first-hand look at the level of customer support they can expect if they buy from your business.

If you are considering using social media for your customer support, then there are some things that you will need to consider.

Be responsive

It sounds like a complete no-brainer but if you are planning to manage customer interactions via your social accounts then you will need to be responsive. A high number of brands do not respond to customer messages or comments and for those seeking help or answers, there is nothing more frustrating.

No matter whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or any other form of social media to manage customer service you, or one of your team, will need to be ready and available. It may be worth investing in a monitoring tool that alerts you when you get a message from any of your channels, and some of these tools will also tell you when your name is mentioned outside of your own accounts.

This can be helpful for tracking and responding to comments and correcting any misinformation that is shared. Keeping a close grip on any comments, no matter where they are shows people that you are highly aware and will engage in brand interactions.

Establish brand guidelines

To keep a consistent feel across all of your accounts it is advisable to establish some brand guidelines. Even if your business is small this can provide a useful frame of reference for anyone managing social accounts and responding to comments.

Things that can be included are:

  • Expected response time
  • Responses to common questions
  • Escalation process
  • Resolution procedures

This will help to keep your brand message clear and consistent and create synergy across all business accounts, no matter who is handling customer queries.

Share content regularly

With a focus placed on customers and managing numerous conversations it is easy to neglect account feeds. It is important to remember that people follow you on social media to connect and learn about your business. A feed that doesn’t share new content on a regular schedule can soon feel stale, so make sure to post regularly.

Creating content and sharing it with your platforms will also give you the opportunity to be proactive. If the same question is asked by several customers, or similar concerns are raised you can use your posts to address this. There is also an opportunity to drive user interaction and engagement by actively seeking answers or customer comments.

Polls can be created on social channels like Linkedin and Twitter and user opinions actively solicited to generate positive brand interactions, and user-generated content can be requested. This is content shared by a user who uses your products and services and their media can be shared to your own feeds as a powerful testimonial.

If keeping up will all of your social accounts and creating content for them all seem like a lot to manage, then you can alway outsource social media management to a company like Smarcomms which will do all the heavy work for you.

Always remember when choosing a social media company to outsource work to, check things like social media sample posts and look online for reviews to ensure the business is reputable.

Share positive outcomes

With conversations happening live and in real-time on social media, you may think there is no need to reshare the events. However, positive outcomes are alway good news for both your business and your customer so there is nothing wrong with resharing the information for those who may have missed it.

If your customer has given you high praise, then some businesses like to use the tactic of taking the comment snippet and sharing it as a post on a cool background. This makes the post highly visible and attractive to users who can easily see the positive comment.

Use automation tools

With the number of available resources online there are options to automate parts of your social media customer service activities. Things like chatbots are triggered by certain words or actions and can deliver intelligent responses to customers on your behalf. While this might seem like it is cheating it brings benefits to both sides.

The customer can get instant responses to common questions and issues, and using automated tools can save you time. Freeing up your team to handle more complicated issues that require higher attention.

Making your customers feel heard and valued will mean a better connection with your brand and a stronger tendency to reach out before canceling a membership or deleting a subscription. Forging positive relationships with your users can actively help to increase retention rates for your business.

Expanded service

Some customer comments or interactions may not fall under the typical banner of customer service, but this is where social channels can be used to your advantage. By expanding or broadening your idea of what customer service is, you can open the door to many positive exchanges.

Any interaction that makes your customer feel more connected to your brand will build trust and generate a higher level of loyalty. So even if your customer is simply making an offhand comment or an observation that requires no response, it is to your benefit to reply.

Also, unexpected comments from the brand representative can be a pleasant surprise for your page visitors and leave them feeling that you really care about them.

Transparent coverage

Using social media to support your customer service activity can be a winning strategy and help with a strong online presence, but if you can’t man the ship 24 hours, then your customers will need to be clear about when they can contact you.

Make sure you clearly display customer service times and days. Again, automated tools can help greatly here and automated responses like “We are really sorry, but we are not online at the moment. We will be back at 8 AM PST” may be slightly disappointing for a customer who hoped for a response, but it’s not as frustrating as sending messages that get no reply.

Monitor your website analytics for feed activity, if you notice that most of the comments and requests are posted in the early evening, then it may be worth altering or adjusting customer support hours to coincide with that time.

Manage expectations

Just because you keep a presence online for customer services purposes, that doesn’t mean that it is a one-stop shop to fix all and every problem. Some people will come across as demanding or even threatening and it is necessary to manage these situations quickly and with minimum damage.

This will require experienced customer service staff that are able to deal with an irate customer swiftly and effectively. Also, no matter how much a user goads you, you must never, ever respond angrily, that is REALLY bad for your brand image.

Instead, you will need people who are articulate enough to handle or deflect the situation and have enough customer service skills to finesse the situation. You or your team should also have enough skills to know when to move the conversation out of the public eye and take it to a private message or a DM to resolve the issue behind the scenes.

Final words

Offering customer service using social media channels can be an excellent brand strategy that makes your brand look completely open and authentic. Clients and potential customers will appreciate the effort to connect and will benefit from the availability you can offer. Knowing that they can reach out to a team member for a discussion or to deal with a problem leads to better trust. Over the long term, your business will benefit from the visible interactions that take place across your social platforms.

For assistance generating professional on-brand social media content contact Smarcomms today!

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