Guide to Great Social Media Customer Service (+ tips and examples)

Patience used to be a virtue. Now, it’s just a memory of a not-so-distant past. We now live in a world where people want everything done quickly. When people need something, they want it ASAP.

As the pace of change further accelerates, people’s tolerance to wait tends to drop as well. Just like in customer service, almost everyone wants a quick resolution of their queries.

It’s not surprising that brands are increasingly turning to social media to enable them to quickly deliver customer service. But how do you do it in ways that truly address people’s needs? Read on and you’ll discover the whats, hows, and whys of social media customer service delivery.

guide to great customer service

Basic to the concept behind social media is the connection it helps make between people. This concept had proven to be very powerful. The evidence: 3.484 billion people are now using social media to make that connection.

For businesses, social media had opened the door to a vast number of possibilities. The most important of these is connecting with their target audience: their customers.

For customers, it’s almost the same case. It’s going beyond having an online venue to connect with family and friends. Social media offers a powerful platform for customers to connect with businesses for their concerns.

Consumer Motivations by Social Channel

Evidence of social media’s efficiency for business use abound. One study, for instance, found that consumers use social media for 5 types of reasons. These are for bridging, bonding, communicating, discovering, and taking action.

A survey involving global consumers says that 96% say that customer service is crucial in generating brand loyalty.

Another report says that 47% of American consumers prefer brands that respond to their social media queries.

Responding to messages via social media can boost customer advocacy by 20%. Failing to do so results in a 43% reduction.

Despite these compelling data, only half of customer social queries are acted upon!

Start converting your customer churn into positive retention, loyalty, and advocacy. The best way to do so is by providing not only good but great customer service on social media.

How to Provide Great Service on Social Media?

The extensive use of phones and emails had failed in achieving that elusive always-on customer service. But with social media, businesses can, and minus the usual trouble and extra cost.

From a few hours to several days, responses to customer queries should now be made around 60 minutes.

Social media has so many advantages over other channels. This is why more and more brands are turning to social media for their customer service.

Social media has given the truth to 24/7 customer service. Customers are now reaching out to you all the time, from anywhere. It’s now up to you to respond. It’s now time for you to give what your customers need.

Select the best social media platforms for your business

People converge at social networks where they know their concerns will be heard and acted upon. They’ll never stay with a brand’s social presence that disregards what they say or provides wrong actions.

When it comes to social media, there’s really no one-size-fits-all platform for everything. In fact, even the most popular, most widely-used channel can fare miserably when used incorrectly.

To know which platform to use, you only need to answer one important question. Where are your customers in social media?

To know where they are, you only need to do some research. You can even use free online tools to point you in the right direction. If you’re handling distributed teams, you can use enterprise social networking software solutions to help you.

By being where your customers are, you can provide the correct customer experience that’s relevant to the social network they prefer.

Infographic on How-to-choose-the-right-social-media-platform

How to choose which social network to use?

  1. Know who your audiences are. Everything starts with identifying who exactly is your audience. You need to about their identifies, age, gender, income, education, interests, etc. The purpose here is to build a working profile of your audience.
  2. Specify your objectives. Once you know your audience, you must establish your goals for that audience. For a business, your goals should include improving your customer service through social media.
  3. Find where your audience is. You now need to know what platform your audiences are using. You can start by checking the user demographics for every platform and determining the levels of platform activity. For instance, Instagram tends to have younger users, while professionals usually have a LinkedIn account.

Closely monitor social media mentions

A key aspect of using this customer service is social media mention. These social mentions are one of the metrics marketers use for analyzing the efficiency of their social media campaigns.

For customer service, social mentions are a direct notice of a customer’s intention to connect with a brand. With an average of 2.1 million negative brand social mentions dailymonitoring them helps businesses to respond quickly to customer concerns.

Thanks to technological tools like social media monitoring software platforms, there’s no need to actually track social signals all day long. By using these tools, you can stay on top of your brand’s social mentions and allow you to respond quickly to customer requests.

How to best monitor brand mentions on social media?

There’s really no secret sauce to solving your social media woes. You only need to plan, hire a dedicated social customer service team, and deploy an efficient social helpdesk solution to help your brand’s cause. A widely-used tool in this category is Freshdesk

Freshdesk allows you to convert Facebook and Twitter into helpdesk tickets that your team can easily attend to, without the need for any other tool. You can then assign social media tickets to the correct agents for a quick resolution.

For Facebook, you can embed your support portal on your account to provide your customers with seamless access to your various support tools and materials. For Twitter, you can create customized streams and even filter social media noise using Freshdesk’s AI-powered social signals.

From whichever social handles your brand use, they’re automatically converted into support tickets that your support teams can readily handle and solve. You can sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

Why do you need to monitor your social channels?

Businesses observe their social media channels just for the sake of monitoring the activities. Here are some of the important reasons why:

  1. Understand your customers. Consistent monitoring of brand mentions and tapping into customer conversations help learn what your customers need. You’re sure to elevate your customer service levels when you are able to closely listen to their demands and act on them.
  2. Improve customer service quality. Thanks to automation, you can easily monitor even large social media accounts. Just deploy enough teams to manage your social accounts, you’ll never miss out on a conversation and act quickly for urgent issues. 
  3. Manage reputation crisis situations. Closely monitoring your social media channels enables you to discover crisis incidents quickly and better respond. Early crisis management doesn’t always guarantee success, but it prevents further escalation.
  4. In-depth competitor analysis. Because social media makes everything visible to anyone, it’s one of the ways to analyze competitor activities. You can easily learn from how they use social media for customer support activities and then do better.
  5. Identify and develop brand advocates. You can easily spot super fans or brand enthusiasts from your customer base using mentions monitoring. It’s up to you how you’ll acknowledge and nurture them. Just utilize the right keywords in your monitoring tools to identify them.

Know which posts to resolve publicly or in private

Because we live in an imperfect world, you should always be prepared for customer complaints and other negative things. To effectively address these unavoidable customer actions, you need to have an efficient protocol in place.

Having a clear path to take for handling customer complaints is the first step. You must set in place a good set of guidelines for documenting and managing complaints. This will ensure everything is aligned with your brand image.

To determine which grievances can be resolved in public, it’s good to first make a summary of all complaints. These can include Twitter tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook posts.

Next, identify social conversations that must be made private. Look for those that can be resolved via a phone call, email or a DM.

Because these are social media complaints, urgent actions should be made. However, you must be mindful that not everything can be resolved using social media. When the case requires shifting to another channel, you must transfer it for better resolution.

What’s most important is that you do the right thing, at the right channel, and in the fastest time possible. Using a robust social media management software solution will help you do this consistently.

Some Key Statistics on Social Media Complaints

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Source: AdWeek

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How to determine which posts to resolve in public vs. private

  1. Spot all social mentions. Finding all instances is the best way to address customer frustration in social media. It’s really not Twitter, but Facebook that has the most customer complaints posted on average. So set your eyes on that channel more.
  2. Always empathize. Embrace the BEET approach: Be Empathetic Every Time. You can’t undo something that’s done. But you can do something about it, and do it with empathy.
  3. Respond first publicly. Almost everybody sees everything on social media. Every brand must be aware that responding to one issue will be seen by many existing and future customers. A brand should always first respond publicly so that everybody will know that you care.
  4. Reply only twice publicly. After your first response, follow up with another. Never reply more than two times in public. Transfer to private channels to better solve the issue.
  5. Switch channels when needed. One of the drawbacks of social media is that it can never provide a 100% customer service. Some platforms even have character limits that adversely affects the conversation. Be aware when to shift to other channels like phone or email to finally resolve the problem.

Speed matters in social customer support

For conventional customer services like in-person and phone conversations, getting things done is the key. Just correctly answer queries or resolve complains, customers will be satisfied, although it took some time to finish.

When it comes to social media, however, things are quite different. Even if you’ve resolved an issue–but it took you too much time–frustration will still reign. It’s because, with social media, the most important is resolving things quickly. 

Thus, the best way to provide a great social media customer service is by providing the fastest response to customer concerns. Timely responses are aptly rewarded.

It’s no wonder the bar of customer expectations from brands on social media keeps on rising. While 42% of social media users expect a brand to respond within an hour, 32% want brand action in just half an hour!

Not providing a quick social media customer service causes many adverse effects. These include making people complain publicly and not recommend the products or services of a brand.

Importance of Speed in Social Media Customer Service

Among American social media users

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How to respond quickly to social media complaints and queries?

  1. Collect all social media concerns in one location. Ensure you have enough staff who can regularly check their social media accounts and respond to any questions their audience have. As your customer base grows, you should also match your social media customer service capacity.
  2. Employ the triage approach. Used in the medical field, the triage method helps in prioritizing cases to be done first. For customer service, use the same by sorting which customer concerns to attend to by urgency levels. Do the critical ones first, then attend to less pressing ones later.
  3. Streamline processes. Maximize the use of technology’s AI and automation capabilities. Beyond that, optimize human intervention by deploying enough teams, such as for tagging DMs and comments. Match them with the volume of social media chatter.
  4. Make your customer details easily accessible. Keep all your customers’ information always within reach by your teams. Having incomplete details results in back-and-forth exchanges, which can likely worsen problems.
  5. Integrate your social channels with customer service apps. You need to have a dependable solution that can help you handle all your customer queries and complaints. For instance, Freshdesk‘s Facebook integration lets you manage and respond to customer interactions such as likes, comments, and messages from Freshdesk.

Be consistently mindful of the tone you use

If the facial expression is key to in-person communication, voice tone is crucial in social customer service. The right approach here is to complement the tone used by your customer.

Matching and even surpass your customer’s tone is an effective way to gain customer engagement. When a customer uses slang, exclamation points, and emotions, it’s a welcome sign to match the tone.

If a client seemed disappointed, be empathic and use a tone that connotes reassurance, apology, and understanding.

For a U.S.-based business handling complaints of non-English speakers, it’s best to use simple words. Never use advanced English like slang and idioms. You must adjust your word use to support understanding.

Again, when a platform allows limited messaging like Twitter, you can use other channels to get your message right.

How to use the right tone when responding to social complaints?

Remember, while your brand voice should be consistent, your tone should always adjust to the situation. This should be the case when handling different customer social media messages and posts.

  1. Standardize your writing tone. Research on the industry’s best practices and integrate them into a set of guidelines your team must learn and use. Every encounter should bear an empathic tone. 
  2. Personalize each encounter. Social media became popular because it’s both entertaining and informative. Be serious when the situation calls for sobriety. Use humor when the conversation should be light and cheerful.
  3. Start with the neutral tone first. Above all, your business should be seen as an organization run by professionals, not SOBs nor comedians. Always use a casual, respectful tone at first contact, to gain trust. Adjust later to a different tone based on the emergent context.
  4. Keep those emoticons under control. Yes, every business wants to connect and be close to its customers. Using emoticons might lighten up conversations, or even help diffuse tense situations. Use colloquialisms and emoticons carefully.

Direct your social fans to your knowledge base

The benefits of using a knowledge base for customer service is widely known. It can help create many happy customers since such self-service delivers faster results. Because many customers really prefer using it, it can drastically reduce support tickets.

Having a functional, updated knowledge base is also crucial in delivering better social media customer service. The key to this is the optimized use of links to knowledge base articles. You can easily do so by using the best knowledge management software solutions in the market today.

Once you have linked all your knowledge base articles, you can easily use the appropriate links when responding to customer queries.

Instead of explaining complicated processes using social media, customer service reps can just well-prepared easy-to-follow guides. This way, you can attend to other more pressing concerns, aside from making things simpler for our customers.

How to best use your knowledge base for social customer service?

  1. Promote self-service. Introduce support advice regularly and assign it with a creative hashtag. It’s best to assign a team member to your brand’s social media handles whenever you’ve added a new article to your knowledge base.
  2. Use knowledge base software. Choose one that is easy to customize and use to support self-service. Since it’s available 24/7, customers can self-serve with the correct information at the proper time.
  3. Ensure that it’s easy to use and updated. Your knowledge base must be intuitive. It should be designed with a simple format and easy navigation. You should align it with your company website since it’s basically a connected part of your entire online presence.
  4. Personalize the experience. Deploy ready-made FAQs to your communities and support. Customize your knowledge base to guarantee customers leave with an excellent support experience.
  5. Optimize Search. You must optimize the results of recurring searches and provide them in a way that allows your audience to easily find information.

Respond to all social media queries

Numerous unanswered phone calls and emails are a sad commonplace in customer service. That’s not the case with social media.

Every check-in, review, and post on social platforms that customers make should be acknowledged. This has become the accepted norm across the social media landscape.

Using social media for your customer service provides a wealth of benefits and advantages. Such an opportunity, however, comes with an urgent condition, that is, every customer transaction must be responded to.

Never allow a customer’s concern, whether small or big, be left unheard. Every customer comments, tweets, or posts because he or she wants to communicate, so you must respond. Because not doing so may lead to negative publicity.

Remember, not responding is also a response!

To ensure you never miss out on any this, use reliable social media management solutions. In today’s digital, social world, a brand’s inaction is tantamount to disregarding a valuable customer.

Don’t forget to measure your social media use

It’s a good feeling for a brand to have many loyal and happy followers on social media. This means you’re doing well in responding to each customer query and complaint thrown at you.

You should never be complacent about this. Unfortunately, many do. In fact, 20% of businesses don’t bother measuring the efficiency of their social customer service activities.

Just like your metrics in marketing and HR, measuring your social customer service efficiency provides many uses and advantages. It allows you to gain key customer support insights as well.

There are plenty of social media metrics are available today. However, only a few of these measures are found to be truly essential.

For good measure, use a reliable data analytics software to analyze your customer data. It helps in assessing your team’s performance as well.

Which metrics to use for analyzing social media use?

  1. Customer satisfaction score. Closely analyze how your customers rate how you resolve every issue for them. A good rating should elicit a simple thank you. An average or poor rating should prompt you to make a follow-up inquiry so you’ll know where to improve.
  2. Inbound volume. Send questions to customers after every purchase and for repeat business transactions. This can help you monitor changes in customer happiness over time.
  3. Call deflection. You should monitor call/issue deflections. This helps determine the effectiveness and irrelevance of your online content on social channels and company websites. Compare how many likes and messages are received versus traditional channels like phone and emails.
  4. Net promoter score. This is a direct way for a company to know the status of your customer service capabilities. It also helps know how your customer base reacts to particular products and programs.
  5. SLA Compliance. Monitoring your social customer service performance through an SLA starts with setting specific goals. For instance, how many tweets or messages does your team respond to for a certain period of time? Some companies even up the ante by measuring how long customer issues are resolved.

Leverage the power of social media to your advantage

Social media has indeed penetrated almost every facet of our lives today. That’s more than very apparent when it comes to customer service.

To survive and remain relevant, you must deliver great support on the social platforms that your customers already frequent. By doing this, you can build stronger connections with them. In turn, you’ll create more loyal customers.

Hopefully, this post has helped you see what great social media customer service is. And that you’ve gained some workable insights to help you take advantage of this powerful customer service channel.

Do you want to enhance or overhaul your social customer service today? Well, a good place to start is with a top-rated social media monitoring tool.

You should ensure that you and your teams are always on top of everything on social media. Only settle for a top-rate tool like Freshdesk so that nothing gets past your social media watch … ever. To do just that, you only need to sign up for Freshdesk free trial here.

Jenny Chang

By Jenny Chang

Jenny Chang is a senior writer specializing in SaaS and B2B software solutions. Her decision to focus on these two industries was spurred by their explosive growth in the last decade, much of it she attributes to the emergence of disruptive technologies and the quick adoption by businesses that were quick to recognize their values to their organizations. She has covered all the major developments in SaaS and B2B software solutions, from the introduction of massive ERPs to small business platforms to help startups on their way to success.

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