For years, the focus on building customer rapport has been service with a smile. It has been meeting and greeting people in shops. And providing offers that people can physically browse through. But as the days of bricks and mortar are becoming a thing of the past, businesses need to learn how to tackle customer service digitally.
A great way to do precisely that is through social media. You may have thought social media is reserved for looking at funny videos. Or getting into debates with strangers over politics. But the social media marketplace has the customer power to turn a brand on its head.
So, what is social media customer service?
Essentially, it’s answering customer questions through social networking sites. Zendesk says 69% of customers feel part of good customer service is getting a quick answer. It makes sense to optimize the services available via social networks or instant messaging. It encourages business intelligence and a better understanding of customers.
It’s also got to be better than putting your customers through the stress of being on a phone call for 45 minutes. Listening to a muffled version of the latest chart-topper over and over again.
With all this in mind, you do have to put some work in. You need to interact with people on a personal level and treat them as more than just a walking dollar sign. This guide will help you understand how to tackle social media customer service.
Source: cooler insights
Get into the mind of your customers
At the outset, you must figure out who your demographic is. Then, you need to think about which social media sites they use. This will help you get noticed.
The first point in any successful interaction is research. In this case, it involves thinking like your customers and being on the platform that they are on.
If you are a budding jewelry firm, Instagram will be the best place for you. If you’re developing a finance app, you should start to make a presence on LinkedIn. Whilst if you are selling home-made hats, then Pinterest will be a good place for you.
But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to one place. Spread yourself out a little bit. Think about how you use social media. Do you spend equal time on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram? Or do you spend way more time elsewhere?
Take timing into account
Engaging with audiences isn’t a case of doing it when you get a chance. Timing is essential. Say you work for a start-up that gives educational advice to students. You are raring to go at 7am.
So, you need to consider when people are looking at social media. Granted, things are a little different right now, as more people work from home. But in general, think about when people tend to check out their socials. Research the best times to post content and connect with people during these hours.
Then you need to pounce. Make sure people are talking about your brand. Post interesting and shareable content, then comment on the responses.
It’s easy to search for topics on social media and get involved with conversations relevant to you. Include your brand in conversations and talk about something of value. You could even combine social network conversations and those via VoIP to improve marketing.
Source: Our Social Times
Listen to customers
If people are @ing you, and discussing your company, you need to respond.
Whether it is positive or negative, don’t ignore people. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine if you received a faulty product and spent a lot on it. You tried to complain but were overlooked. Not only would you never shop with that brand again, but you would also tell others not to shop there either.
An example of how to respond may look like this:
Say you make specialist cheese and post it around the country. Your marketing team has figured out that Facebook has several cheese lover’s pages. So, they have paid for advertising on those.
People have started to remark, and the first comment says:
“OMG. Your cheese is so yummy! My son is allergic to dairy so I’m happy we have finally managed to find something he likes”
This positive comment is a good opportunity to get personal with customers. It also shows the cheese community that you are worth checking out, too. In doing this, you can even upsell other products.
You could say:
“Hi @Name. We are so happy that you liked our cheese. Our special cheese technicians have worked very hard on making a dairy-free cheese. We are happy that customers like your son love it. We are about to bring out a huge range of dairy-free cheeses that you should check out.”
What about negative feedback?
The next comment then says: “I was so disappointed by your special Christmas cheese. I bought it as a treat and not only was it damaged when it arrived, but it tasted weird”
This is your opportunity to turn things around. The first thing you need to do is deal with the complaint. You then need to redeem yourself. So, you could say:
“Hi @name. We are so sorry about your negative experience with our special Christmas cheese. Here at *company name* HQ, we do our best to make sure every customer has a great cheesy experience. We will be sending you a DM with an offer that we hope will make things right. We hope this will help with your bad experience.”
This way, you can send them an offer to get them back on board. You will also be showing that you care about your customers and want them to be happy.
Source: Cooler Insights
But aren’t negative reviews bad for the company?
Customers know that there will always be a bad review now and again. But it’s how you address these reviews that matter.
If 100% of reviews are perfect, the reviews can start to look a little fake. And this looks more untrustworthy than having the odd blip. Which also means you can’t pick and choose who to respond to either.
Even if people ask something irrelevant, just be nice and respond. For example, say as a business, you hire staff for start-ups. And someone comments on a post asking for the best job boards. Graciously tell them what it is you do. And then point them in the right direction.
On that note, it’s also important not to argue with people who are looking for an argument for the sake of it. As they always say on social media… Don’t feed the trolls. If this situation occurs, respond politely, and leave it there.
Monitoring your social media pages regularly will ensure you stay on top of things.
Using a social listening strategy will help you see things from your target audience’s perspective. Remember that when people are annoyed, they write differently. So, when you respond, stay polite, and defuse any negativity.
If someone sends you a direct message, you could even follow it with a personal phone call through your business phone number. With all the great call center software, there is no excuse not to get in contact with customers to check up on them.
Or, people may be complaining about things like technical issues. In which case, you need to make sure there is someone on call to respond quickly to this too. You may need to set up a customer service team that can help with this.
This is the basic rule of any human interaction. But when it comes to customer service this is particularly important.
Because let’s face it, as soon as somebody starts getting grumpy with us, it’s only natural to get grumpy with them. When providing the best customer service, being rude to people simply will not fly. This is particularly important when starting a business. Because your first impressions will be the biggest ones.
As touched on already, when frustrated, people can be a little bit tetchy. Being rude and short in response will just wind them up even more.
But being kind and polite will aid with de-escalating the situation. After all, we don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives, they could be projecting.
Also, think about all the people who can see how you react. Your response on social media will have a knock-on effect on how the brand is received too.
Another etiquette point is to not delete people’s comments.
Deleting or hiding a comment is the digital equal to putting your hand in someone’s face. Then saying very loudly, “I’M NOT LISTENING”.
It’s beyond rude and dismissive. It also implies that whatever their problem is, it doesn’t matter to you.
Source: Our Social Times
Timing is everything
We have already discussed the benefit of being online when your customers are. It is also important to respond to your clients on time, too.
Most websites will have some sort of automated ‘how can I help?’ section in the corner. But a lot of these are answered by chatbots or are only there to answer specific questions.
This is when people turn to social media to have their questions answered. Which also means people are looking for a quicker response.
This doesn’t mean that you have to respond instantly. But honestly, the quicker that you can respond, the better. Or at least set up an automated response to say you will reply as soon as you can.
It’s important that you can respond with an answer that has substance. And if you don’t have an answer to their question, at least let them know it’s something you are working on.
Answering queries is important for those who also sell on marketplaces like Amazon.
People selling on these sites rely very heavily on customer feedback. Hence, if you are wondering how to get reviews on Amazon, give quick response times on the site or social media. This way, when asked about the communication of the seller, the buyer will give five stars.
Source: Zen Desk
The future is changing. People are starting revolutions from their bedrooms with just a laptop. Marketers can work from home with a voice over IP phone to contact clients. And people can give their point of view of a product to the whole world through social media.
Before, a product could be tested with a test group. But now, we rely on actual customers using products to learn how they truly feel about things.
Finally, if you are part of a larger company. Take this opportunity to share the feedback with the rest of the firm. This will aid your company in learning from any mistakes and understand what works and what doesn’t.
Make sure that you are sharing positive feedback, too. It’s important for staff to be recognized for their hard work.
In a progressive age of tech, social media is the perfect way of providing customer service.
You can respond in an instant in a personable way and get feedback on products in the meantime. The thought of the world seeing your responses is daunting. But it can actually have a positive impact on your brand voice. Which has a great outcome for both customers and companies.
Being social media savvy keeps you in the modern-day and may even bring more traffic to your site.
John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and contact center software provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as Sendinblue and Pandadoc.