Social media has increasingly gained popularity as a vehicle for communication between businesses and customers. A whopping 47% of customers in the U.S. prefer using social media for customer service in comparison to other methods (phone, email, etc.). Customer service via social media is one of the most crucial aspects of a company’s brand, as it is directly in the public eye. Because of this, it is important to know the basic do’s and don’t’s when it comes to using social media sites for customer support.
When it comes to customer service, there is a fine line between too robotic and too personal. Find that perfect middle ground of professionalism and personalized care to give your customers the best support possible.
- Complete your profile.
Before customer support even enters the picture, keep in mind the image you are projecting. A complete, informative profile will not only portray your business in a professional light, it will also help gain the trust of your customers.
- Use the customer’s name.
When responding to questions, concerns, or comments on social media, it is easy to sound impersonal. Customers want to know they are talking to a person, not just an automated message that will get them nowhere. Addressing them by name is an easy way to show them you care about their issue.
- Respond to both complaints and compliments.
Social media comments are going to be a mixture of the good, the bad, and the questionable – it is your job to respond to an assortment of comments. This will let customers know that you are aware of both the positives and negatives, and will show them that you care about what they have to say (even if it isn’t what you are hoping to hear).
- Reply quickly.
Timely responses are crucial; social media is all about instant connections, and customers want an answer as soon as possible. A recent study showed 25% of customers expected a reply within the hour, 12% expected an answer in 30 minutes, and 9% wanted a response in 5 minutes. While these timeframes may be unrealistic, the bottom line is that customers want to be answered fast, so the sooner you can respond, the better.
- Respond publicly when possible.
Not all issues can or should be answered publicly. However, when you can, address issues publicly. Public responses can help other customers who may have the same problem and can help build the trust of your social media community.
- Be specific.
Instead of answering questions or concerns with the same copy-and-paste answer, tailor your responses to each customer. Whether you do this by using their name or providing them with exact information regarding their question, make your replies as customized as possible and avoid generic, generalized responses.
- Speak in customer-friendly terms.
Think of your responses through the customer’s eyes. Are you using easily understandable terminology, or are you writing in a stream of industry jargon? Write your responses in a way that someone who knows nothing about your products and services can understand.
- Neglect grammar and spelling.
Poor grammar and spelling signify carelessness, inexperience or lack of knowledge on the subject, and unprofessionalism, three things you most certainly want to avoid when dealing with customer service. If you do not take the time to edit your responses, customers will doubt your business and your ability to provide them with a satisfying service.
- Become defensive.
One of the worst things you can do in customer service is argue with the customer. No matter how uncalled for a comment is, it is important to keep your cool on social media. Arguing, being defensive, and playing the blame game will make it seem like you don’t handle criticism well and are unwilling to improve your services. It can also escalate issues that can otherwise be resolved quickly.
- Spam with replies.
On social media platforms such as Twitter, your replies can show up in your followers’ feeds – even if they are meant for one customer only. Instead of spamming your customers with replies that have nothing to do with them, take the time to correctly respond to tweets by starting with the specific user’s twitter handle first. This will ensure that only they will receive the message and not everyone on your list. Nobody likes spam!
- Transfer questions.
If a customer reaches out to you on a certain social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), respond to them on the same platform instead of asking them to resend their comment on another site. This will lessen the time it takes to resolve the issue and save the customer the frustration of having to repeat themselves.
- Let customers wait.
As stated above, customers expect an extremely fast response to their concerns over social media. Set a goal to answer all queries within one to two business days at the most. This can be a challenge if you are faced with an overwhelming number of comments, but your customers will appreciate the care you put into their issues. However, do not rush responses. Take the time to understand the situation first and respond as promptly as you can after.
- Don’t overdo slang.
While it is important to speak to customers on their level (rather than using all technical terminology), don’t go too far down the rabbit hole. Popular social media slang, such as emoji or hashtags, are generally not appropriate for customer service and can negatively affect your company’s image.
- Don’t be afraid to check in.
The customer-business relationship thrives on communication. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers if they are happy with your customer support system. This will give you the opportunity to improve your service and give customers the level of performance they expect from your company.