How to Use Social Media for Customer Service
In an increasingly digital market, customers expect a certain level of online engagement, with faster response times in all areas of their shopping experience – it’s not just the ease of initial purchase or a quick shipping (or collection) option that these expectations relate to, it is also how quickly they can connect with the company for their customer service needs – before, during and afterwards.
Social Media plays a huge role in modern customer services – with different platforms connecting people from across the globe; interacting with one another and with businesses has never been easier or more direct.
Why is Social Media for Customer Service Important?
Having active satisfied guests is at the heart of any consumer undertaking – without them, your business cannot function. Keeping your customers happy and loyal to your brand is one of the most vital activities your company can undertake – and customer service plays an enormous role in this process.
According to Forrester Research, ‘77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good service.’
and consumers aren’t shy about visiting other locations and venues if they believe that their needs aren’t been catered to.
So it is critical that a company has a strong multi-stream customer service model that can keep up with the changes in technology and demand.
What are the Benefits of Social Media for Customer Service?
Social Media allows you to connect with your audience in what is essentially real-time, you can engage with them directly and ensure that your company values, voice and brand identity remain cohesively represented and that your customers feel a positive connection with your company.
The potential reach on Social Media networks is huge – across the combined platforms, there are over 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide – and although not everyone is a potential customer, anyone can see your online interactions and gauge what standard your company holds its self to.
Being active on Social Media allows you the opportunity to minimize risk to reputational damage from negative word of mouth exposure, and cultivate positive consumer recognition – if a company is seen to be engaging with its customers; both with positive and negative experiences, they are more likely to remain visible in the public consciousness.
‘Social Media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they willingly, and for free, tell others about you.’
Social Media for Customer Service Tips for Best Practice
Social Media does not have a one size fits all approach – what works on one platform is unlikely to work as well on another. Understanding the difference between the networks and using them to your advantage is one of the most important takeaways when approaching best practices on social media.
- Scheduling plays an important role in developing consumer confidence; if your posts are erratic and/or infrequent, your audience will lose interest and go elsewhere – to establish yourself as a brand authority, you need to find that all important balance between being seen regularly, but not posting so often that you annoy your audience.
Posting quality content regularly will enable consumers to talk about and recommend your brand – secure in the knowledge that the tone and quality of your posts will remain at a professionally high standard.
- Knowing where your customers are is a vital step in developing your social media strategy – there is no point promoting yourself on one particular network if your customers all frequent another. Likewise, spreading yourself thin across all networks when your audience is largely found on one may not be the best use of your time or budget. Making use of data analytics can aid you in this process.
- Regardless of which channel/s you choose to utilize, conducting yourself with one ‘voice’ and style will enable your brand to develop with consistency and integrity. If your social media channels are all over the place with different styles, tones and approaches – your audience will become confused, and find it harder to trust the company. You must know your brand and use social media to communicate this ideal.
- Whilst remaining ‘professional’ is important, your customers also want to see the ‘human face’ of the business – there is nothing wrong with having lighthearted posts or developing less rigid connections with your followers (engaging in discussions or posting non-offensive jokes occasionally, etc), but there still has to be a line that your social media channels do not cross – it is vital to remember that your business account is NOT your personal account, it is not the right platform to air complaints or express divisive opinions.
- Respond to your followers in a timely manner – acknowledge and thank those who are talking about your brand, and don’t ignore negative feedback. How you deal with a negative customer experience is just as important as giving customers a good experience in the first place – with the right customer service, it is possible in some circumstances to change a negative opinion of the company into a positive one, and generate customer loyalty with someone who may go on to be a brand champion when discussing their experiences with others.
- Be genuine – your audience likely follow many other companies and individuals, to stand out – you need to promote your brand with authenticity, purchasing likes or reviews may sound like a good way to boost your numbers and attract genuine customers, but the fallout from this being discovered is rarely positive – people want to know that a company has their best interests at heart, and isn’t just out to take their money.
Using social media as a part of your customer service channel allows you to better adapt to the constant changes in expectations that your clients are wanting, whilst allowing greater engagement and advertising at the same time.