Social media has become a primary customer service channel for many businesses. Instead of waiting on hold on the phone or hoping an email reaches a live human being, customers will often ask questions or share their thoughts with a company via a social media post, comment or direct message.

Business leaders must have a plan in place for managing customer service messages that come in through their social channels. To help you, we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council how businesses can improve social-media-based customer communications.

1. Have a Consistent Response Formula

Your company must have an online reputation management plan in place before the dumpster catches fire. One way to improve is by responding to all “feedback” in the same exact way: Thank them for taking the time to leave their thoughts, specifically mention the complaint or praise, then invite them to email or phone to discuss further. Consistency makes the flare-ups less intense.

Magnus Simonarson, Consultwebs

2. Track Trends in Your Feedback

If you notice any patterns in the negative reviews your company is receiving, pay close attention to it. Use that information to determine if you should change something in your business or create a better experience for your customers. Think long-term solutions, not just Band-Aid fixes.

Gabriel Krajicek, kasasa.com

3. Call the Client Immediately

A lot of great customer experiences come from immediate responses, but also you can cut a lot of time by actually calling the client right when they get to your social media. This is powerful and shows you care. After the phone call, follow-up on the post or message with what’s been done, how it’s been resolved and if there’s anything else you can do to help.

Richard Fong, Automatic Growth

4. Openly Admit Mistakes

It’s easy to maintain a social account when raving fans are happily tweeting about new features. True brands excel at their worst, including trolls and truly disappointed loyal customers facing important issues. Acing poor expectations and bugs with honesty and responsibility can turn a furious customer into a long-term fan of the business (since this trait is still rare to find).

Mario Peshev, DevriX

5. Be Authentic and Timely

We live in a world where most people who have good experiences keep them quiet and those who have bad experiences are empowered to put it all over social media. A great way to improve your customer service via social media is to respond to complaints or feedback as it comes in and to do it in an authentic way. Offer fewer canned responses and more real concern, but remember that time is of the essence.

Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

6. Review Your Analytics

Your social media analytics can give you insights about the pain points and success gaps that plague your audience. Use this information to train your customer service team to anticipate user needs and quickly resolve questions or concerns.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

7. Use Appropriate Emojis

Inserting an appropriate emoji into a response (canned or not) adds an element of personalization; there is more of a feeling that there is a real person reading and responding to customers.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

8. Be Respectful and Positive

Being attentive is extremely important. What customers say of your company could be a blessing or a burden, so always watch out for comments on the web and be sure to provide answers. Always be respectful and positive. A little bit of “the customer is always right” mindset could be helpful, depending on your type of business.

Patrick Barnhill, Specialist ID, Inc.

9. Find Solutions to Their Problems

Social media allows brands to see how customers express themselves on experiences with the company’s products. You can get a sense of when they are not satisfied and see how you can better their experience. Finding a solution to their problem is a great step to better customer service. Always saying thank you to those who voice positive opinions on your brand can also let them know you care.

Chelsea Rivera, Honest Paws

10. Proactively Participate in the Public Conversation

An excellent way to improve customer service on social media is to use social media listening tools to find out what people say about your brand. Pop up in the public conversations with your professional reaction to their complaint, or a “thank you” note in response to a positive comment. Be proactive!

Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

11. Lead With Empathy

When customers are frustrated enough to voice their frustrations on social media, it may be because they haven’t felt “heard” through other customer service channels. So first and foremost, make it insanely easy to reach your business outside of social media. Second, in any forum (public or not), take time to think about where your customer is coming from and respond as if you are in their position.

Saloni Doshi, Eco Enclose, LLC

12. Follow Up

There will be cases where it’s worthwhile sending follow-up messages to people who contacted you on social media. It’s a way to connect with a potential lead, and it will also show that you care, which will make your brand more memorable. Following up won’t be relevant in many cases, but if you apply it to the right ones, it can make a difference.

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13. Send a Video Response

The next time you are responding to a customer service request on social media, instead of typing your thoughts, get out your phone, record a quick video and post it as a response. The likelihood of engagement to video is much higher than text, and it will show your customer (and the prospective customers they may share your video with) how much you care.

Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

14. Use Real Names

People want to interact with real people, not just anonymous company pages. When your customer support answers social media inquiries from the company profile, have them add their real name as an introduction as well as their role. The responses you will get will be more rational and understanding, because they’re reminded that there is a real person at the other end.

Karl Kangur, Above House

15. Offer Random Acts of Kindness

People value personal, human interactions. One way companies can improve their customer service on social media is to offer random acts of kindness to those they see saying positive things. If someone compliments your product online, thank them publicly and reach out privately afterward with a coupon or special offer. This displays a real, human interaction and shows them they are valued.

Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained

Discover How to Grow Your Business with Social Media

The sheer number of users on social media are growing daily, and so is the amount of money being spent by big brands and businesses to connect with such audiences. While it’s becoming a powerful means for connecting with each other, it’s also proven to be extremely success with customer support, engagement and outreach as well.

If you aren’t currently using these methods within your own brand or business, be sure to read through each of the expert tips above, and start implementing them into your own daily social media marketing efforts.