Customers approach a company through many different channels, including social media. This isn’t a bad thing, as social media carries the advantage of immediacy: Customers have questions, which you can respond to in real-time. Social media also carries the weight of audience, though: You’re effectively talking in a crowded room, and people are paying attention.
So how should you handle customer questions on platforms like Facebook and Twitter? Should you always respond on the same channel, or are there times you’ll want to take the conversation to email or phone? And, if so, how do you know when?
To find out, we asked nine members from YEC for their perspectives on approaching social media and customer service.
1. Social Media Is Where the People Are
Facebook has approximately 1.86 billion monthly active users, and Twitter has 317 million, so it’s safe to say social media is where the people are. Your customers are most likely on some sort of social media, and most people find that social is the easiest and quickest way to contact a company. It’s crucial to have a customer service team responding to your social media inquiries as soon as possible.
2. Customers Are Expecting It
If you have social media profiles, it’s a must to provide customer service through that channel. Whether you like it or not, customers will try to contact you where they feel most comfortable. It can be a great form of marketing, too: Satisfied customers from social media are more likely to share their experiences with others.
3. Connectivity Boosts Personal Connection
We activated Facebook Messenger on our Shopify store about six months ago. I’m blown away by how many people sign on through Facebook at checkout, then provide feedback, ask questions and thank us for sending them information like tracking and order receipts there. It’s been a huge boost for making personal connections with customers, rather than leaving them looking for a contact page.
4. Use Social Media to Control the Conversation
Traditional customer service tools are great for solving problems behind the scenes, but when your customers are having problems and talking about them on social media, it can be incredibly valuable to have a support account. By interacting instantly with any complaint, you are able to control the conversation before it gets out of hand.
5. Give Answers Quickly via Social Media
Our customers are millennials. They tend to be impatient and want answers right away. If they don’t get them, they’ll check out from your social media account and try to get another brand’s attention ASAP. It is important that customers don’t wait that long.
6. Handle Details via Email
Social media customer service is great for quick Q&As and responding to feedback. However, when there’s a lot of back and forth or detailed information that needs to be shared to resolve an issue, take it to email to prevent it from cluttering up your pages and to help the customer keep a good record of the interaction.
7. Provide Other Channels
While some of your audience may prefer to be contacted this way, you can’t assume it’s for everyone, so make sure you have other channels like a live agent on your website, a clearly marked phone number with real people, a help desk function that provides answers and a customer service email address.
8. Avoid Social Pressures When Discussing Service Issues
Social media offers an excellent way to listen and interface with customers. If a customer service problem arises, you have to answer your customer to show you care and value their feedback. But create offline channels to deal with the service issues and interact with the customer so it’s not aired over social media. This removes social pressures and encourages honest and direct communication.
9. A Customer Is a Customer Anywhere
If someone contacts you on your company social media, you should absolutely treat them as you would a customer in any other context. Every meeting is an ambassador moment, so it simply doesn’t make sense to me to silence these people. That doesn’t mean you have to answer them outside of work hours, but make an effort to reply quickly.
Make the Most Out of Your Social Media Efforts Today
With more than two billion users accessible through social media, it’s quickly become one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach audiences and customers around the world. Be sure to implement these expert tips into your social media marketing and engagement efforts today.
If you enjoyed this expert round-up, be sure to also view our previous guides on how to get more feedback from your customers and 11 different platforms for growing your personal brand.