If consumers can reach you on social, they’re more likely to buy.
Nearly half of consumers who responded to a Sprout Social Index survey said they had used social media to reach out to a company. Of those, 57 percent said they had a question, 45 percent said they had an issue with a product or service, and 34 percent said they simply wanted to compliment a business.
In that same survey, 21 percent of consumers said they are more likely to buy from companies they can reach on social. The stats all point to the importance of managing customer interactions on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So what steps does a small business need to take to provide top-notch customer services on social media?
Not So Different from Phone Support
First, get comfortable with the idea. Resist the temptation to see social media customer services as something strange and difficult. More than likely you’ve figured out ways to use the telephone for customer service, and odds are you’ve at least got a voicemail system that allows people to leave a message if no one is available to answer the call. If you’ve figured out how to adapt a phone system to handle 24/7 queries, you can handle social media, too.
You’ll need to figure out how customers are trying to reach you. Facebook and Twitter are often the first places consumers will look for you, and you should make sure you’re either checking those channels regularly or set up your accounts so that you receive emails when somebody leaves a comment or messages you. Another tactic is to set up Google Alerts to notify you when someone posts content about your company, products and services.
Take Advantage of Facebook Messenger
You can use Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool. If you can’t respond quickly when someone sends you a message, you can set up an away message or an instant greeting that sets an expectation about when you’ll be able to respond. As long as consumers know the message has been received and they have a timetable for a response, they’ll be satisfied until you do respond. Make sure to set a response time expectation on your “About” page, too.
If you use Instagram, you can connect direct messages to Facebook Messenger.
Twitter promotes its customer service capabilities: “Businesses create a massive opportunity for themselves when they acknowledge customer service-related Tweets from consumers. When a customer Tweets at a business and receives a response, they are willing to spend 3–20% more on an average priced item from that business in the future.”
On Twitter, you can use a Direct Message to allow customers to begin a private conversation, and you can also use a Feedback tool to get feedback on your customer support.
Some Rules of Etiquette
Once you’ve established the mechanics of your social media customer support, there are some recommended guidelines for responding to questions and complaints:
- Respond as quickly as you can. For better or worse, if consumers find you on social media, they expect you to be paying attention and to respond within a short period of time, even if the response is “Thanks for your note. I’ll give you a more complete response soon.”
- Be helpful, but brief, no matter what platform you’re using.
- For some issues, be prepared to offer an off-line solution such as a phone number or an email address that the customer can use to continue the conversation if necessary.
- When there’s a problem, take responsibility and be clear about how the problem occurred and the steps you’ll take to resolve it.
- Take criticism in stride and keep your head when responding. Take the time to write a calm, thoughtful, appreciative response. Always be thankful and gracious for any criticism, which can help you improve your business.
- Use the customer’s first name when responding, when possible.
- Be aware that your responses are public and could be shared by anyone to anyone else.
It’s not necessary to have a lot of extra resources to provide good social media customer service, and you don’t have to be perfect. Most customers appreciate when their comments are acknowledged and that you’re including them in a conversation about your business.