Welcome to PART 1 of my guide to Social Media Customer Service for your business!
Your customers will have questions 24/7 and want answers 24/7, heck they expect answers 24/7, and this is why they are moving towards social media to contact your brand.
You’ve probably done it yourself. If you’ve been a little upset or let down by a brand, you’ve probably fired off a Tweet, left an angry comment or posted a bad review?
Don’t get too down though, as social media is also the channel where you’re far more likely to receive praise, so it’s not all negative, however, positive engagement also requires you to be interactive.
This guide will start your journey to understanding:
- The role social media plays in your customer service demands
- How to deliver WORLD CLASS customer service via social media
- The revenue benefits of being leaders on social media customer service
I sincerely hope you enjoy this guide and it can help you achieve your goals. (Access PART 2 via the Opt-In Form at the end of PART 1).
The role social media plays in your customer service demands
Over the last 20 years the expectations as to the speed at which a response is received has changed dramatically. At one point it would have been perfectly acceptable to have to wait up to 14 working days for a response to a letter. The advent of email pushed these expectations to 24 hours and now social has created the expectation that your brand should respond within minutes.
Social media has completely revolutionised customer service in terms of a customer’s expectations. In fact, studies show that 67% of Twitter users have used the platform to request customer service from a brand.
However, please don’t panic, the best way to meet this challenge and win, is to start off with the mantra that, ‘Everything old is new‘.
When a customer contacts you through social media they expect an instant response, it’s similar to the expectations a customer would have if they were to phone your organisation. So think of your social media channels as text versions of your phone lines and not an extension of your emails. Leaving a message or comment unanswered for an hour is the equivalent of putting a customer on hold for an hour. Therefore, a good way to start planning your social media customer service plan is to think about phones.
Through the humble phone you:
- Communicate in real-time
- You’re professional
- You use the customer’s name
- It’s a private channel
Basically if you wouldn’t say it on the phone, you wouldn’t say in on social, especially since even private conversations can go public with one screen grab share.
The 3 key steps to social media customer service
- Responding quickly
- Responding with the same empathy you would on the phone
- Requesting that the conversation is taken over to a private channel if it isn’t already. Ex: TripAdvisor reviews, Tweets or Facebook comments
This is a great example of a failure to meet expectations from Getspokal.com
This Tweet highlights simply, that the customer does not want to bound by the old constraints of traditional call centre opening times.
So this is an issue isn’t it? You probably can’t operate a call centre 24/7 so you definitely can’t have staff sitting on a device 24/7, therefore can’t deliver on these expectations. This is where the digital approach has a phenomenal advantage over offline customer service.
How to deliver WORLD CLASS customer service via social media
Let’s agree that you probably can’t operate a 24/7 customer service centre regardless of whether or not it’s phone based, social media based and no matter how much your customers expect 24/7 service, so how do you deliver on these expectation? The truth is, without a 24/7 service team, you can’t, but you can do a damn fine job at satisfying the needs of the vast majority of your customers with smart planning and using the powerful tools (Hootsuite) available to your business.
Smart Planning – Dedicated handles
Set up a customer service specific Twitter handle so that customer enquiries do not get lost in amongst general chatter. This will save you time and ensure you get to every customer as you do not have to wade through notifications that may not need an urgent response.
Adweek state that 30% of top brands have a Twitter handle that is designed purely for customer service. Bonus: any negative Tweets get separated from your brand’s main Twitter feed.
Smart Planning – Swipe files
Have standardised responses saved on a word document. Use past questions, reviews, comments to create replies to:
- Negative reviews
- Negative comments
- Negative mentions (a mention will be where a customer has said something negative about you, but not directed towards you – more on this and ‘Social Listening’ in PART 2)
- Positive reviews
- Positive comments
- Positive mentions
Yep! That’s right! Invest as much into a positive interaction as you do a negative one (more on creating raving fans in PART 2).
The replies should be standardised (you’ll want 3 variations so that it doesn’t look like you just copy ‘n’ paste – even though you do):
- Include an ‘[INSERT NAME]’ field – to quickly personalise the reply
- Include an ‘[INSERT SUBJECT/PRODUCT/SERVICE]’ field – show relevance and attentiveness by referring to a specific point the customer is contacting you about
- Offer to take the conversation to a private channel. Ex: Manager’s email address or DM
- Sign off with your name and job role to humanise your brand
Using swipe files, you’ll be able to at least give the customer a very timely, ‘WE’VE HEARD YOU’ response that starts the interaction swiftly. Don’t wait for the exact answer before you reply, that could take ages; see ‘Feedback Loop’. You’ll also want to make sure that this initial reply is public so that the ‘whole world’ knows you actually engage, after that you’ll want to take the conversation private as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Smart Planning – Feedback loop
The ‘Feedback Loop’ is how answers can rise from deep within an organisation to the social media responder. Every time an answer comes back from a specialist department record it and add it to your swipe file.
When you launch your social media customer service plan get each department to brainstorm replies to in depth questions and get them to suggest links to existing content or get them involved in creating new content. Once these are formulated add these to your swipe file. Try not to overwhelm your responder but ensure as much knowledge as possible is at the fingertips at this top level so questions do not always go down a chain, land in busy departments that may not have time to respond and the loop goes dead = unhappy customer.
Smart Panning – Content and social sharing
When a customer makes contact with your brand to ask a question this should be considered as a trigger to create content.
A good proactive approach would be to effectively create and manage your FAQs and, for the most frequently asked questions, create value first content such as blog posts or videos.
A customer’s question could identify gaps in your content. They may have already (this is quite often) attempted to answer their question themselves first, before making contact. If you update your FAQs and content regularly you’ll be satisfying enquiries without even realising it.
With this content in place you are now able to get this into your social sharing cycle. Create a striking visual, then post a link to your FAQs or content on your social media channels. You could pin this social post to the top of your feeds or Tweet it once a day. You’re empowering your customers to answer their own questions and showing that you care.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be playful and must be a robot.
There are wonderful examples of social media customer service teams delivering incredible levels of service and generating viral wins for your brand; there’s some fun stuff in part 2.
Thank you for reading. I truly hope this guide can help your business in some way. Please feel free to share this knowledge.