Why Customer Service Should Be At the Core of Every Social Media Strategy
It was a Saturday morning. The scent of rain filled my room and I could hear drops sprinkling outside my window. As a rain lover, I was excited at first, but then I thought to myself, “crap, is the farmers market open rain or shine? I really need a new bar of soap.” The only means of communication for the farmers market was Facebook and Twitter. Surely on the day of the farmers market they’ll respond. I waited, and waited, and waited… no response. It was that day that it hit me.
No matter what your reasons for engaging in social media, customer service has to be at the core of everything you plan.
Two days later, they got back to me, letting me know that they were in fact, open rain or shine. Needless to say, it was too late, and I was still in dire need of a new bar of my beloved Wildwood soap.
- Be prepared
- Be available
- Be knowledgeable
- Be connected
- Be engaged
- FAQ: How can I prioritize customer service in my social media strategy?
The golden rule of social media is that you have to set goals. Most businesses aim for more followers, greater online visibility, and oftentimes additional website traffic. They have a plan in place to draw those followers, promote their brand and drive traffic. But when it comes to dealing with issues pertaining to customer service they miss the mark.
Think of your social media channels the same way you would any other form of business communication. At its core, it is a communication tool and people are going to use it as such. It’s vital not to overlook the customer service opportunities inherent in social media.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. When building customer service into your social media strategy, consider worst-case scenarios and how you will handle them. What will you do if a customer lashes out online? What will your escalation process be if the issue can’t be resolved through social media? Think of how you handle customer concerns over the phone or in your place of business and identify how you will handle these same situations if they arise via social media.
In the case of the farmers’ market, it was taking place at the time of my tweet. Ideally if you are open for business you should be available to potential customers via social media in case they have questions or need more information about your businesses during business hours.
Whether you’re personally managing your social media presence or have hired someone to manage it for you, it’s important that they know what’s going on in your business at all times. Make sure that whoever is managing your social presence is kept abreast with current promotions, changes to policies, current customer concerns and anything else that may come up online.
There will be times when questions or concerns will come up that are outside of what you can manage, or that you may simply not have the answer to. Be sure you have a means of connecting the social media customer with the right information or person to move forward. A couple Halloweens back I purchased a box of adhesive bandages from a large craft retail chain and when I got home and opened the box I discovered the carcass of a very large beetle that could have only entered the box during packaging. The business support line was closed, so I reached out via Facebook for assistance. The next day the company offered an apology and directed me to who I could contact specifically via Facebook. When I reached out to the representative she was already aware of my problem and was quick to offer compensation. Had the company not been so connected internally, I would imagine this process would not have gone as smoothly.
Social media can be a breeding ground for the passive aggressive. I see it all the time. “Company X is so mean. They make me want to cry.” They won’t @mention you directly, but the message will be out there. Monitoring your brand can help engage customers who are lashing out at your company without saying it to your face. I’ve done this a few times myself and in many cases the company has come forward to make it right, or even better a brand evangelist has stepped up for them. Just make sure to monitor these conversations as well as you want to ensure they are helping and not hurting your case.
Social media as a customer support channel continues to see demand, yet many businesses are deaf to the cries of their customers. Ignoring a question, concern, or comment from a customer on a social media website is the equivalent to hanging up the phone on someone or slamming the door in a customer’s face. And even if not done intentionally, being unavailable at a critical time can be harmful to your brand. Add to the equation social media communications happen in front of millions of people.
Take a look at your own social presence and identify if you are prepared to aid your online customers on social networks, and if you’re not, what are you going to do to fix it?
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Customer service should always be a top priority in any social media strategy, and I can assist in helping your organization provide fast and convenient support to its customers through social media.
- Understand Your Audience
The foundation of any effective social media strategy is a deep understanding of your target audience. Start by creating detailed buyer personas, including their preferences, pain points, and behaviors. This will allow you to tailor your customer service efforts to their needs.
- Choose the Right Platforms
Not all social media platforms were created equal. Focus your efforts on the platforms where your target audiences are most active. This will help you concentrate your resources and provide more personalized customer service.
- Prompt Response Time
Customers expect quick responses on social media. Aim to respond to inquiries, comments, and messages within an hour, if not sooner. Setting up automated responses or chatbots can help maintain a fast response rate, even during off-hours.
- Consistency in Brand Voice and Tone
Maintain a consistent brand voice and tone across all your social media channels. This will help customers recognize your business and create a sense of trust and reliability.
- Train Your Team
Invest in training your customer service team to handle social media interactions effectively. They should be well-versed in your products or services and understand the nuances of online communication.
- Leverage Social Listening Tools
Utilize social listening tools to monitor what people say about your brand on social media. This will help you identify issues and opportunities and respond proactively.
- Escalation Plan
Not all customer service inquiries can be resolved on social media. Have a clear escalation plan in place to address complex issues or situations that require private conversations or more in-depth assistance.
- User-Generated Content
Encourage user-generated content and customer reviews. Share positive feedback and highlight customer stories to build trust and showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Feedback Collection
Actively seek feedback from your customers. Conduct surveys or polls to understand how you can improve your social media customer service efforts.
- Measure and Analyze
Regularly measure key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your social media customer service, such as response time, customer satisfaction, and engagement rates. Analyze the data to make informed improvements.
- Crisis Management
Have a crisis management plan for handling negative comments, reviews, or public relations crises. Swift, transparent, and empathetic responses can often mitigate potential damage.
- Content Calendar
Create a content calendar that includes not only marketing content but also posts and responses related to customer service. Consistency in engagement is key.
- Collaboration with Other Departments
Collaborate with other departments like marketing and sales to ensure a seamless customer experience. Customer service should not be siloed; it should be integrated into your overall strategy.
- Adaptable and Agile
Stay agile and adapt to changing customer needs and platform updates. Social media is a dynamic environment, and flexibility is key.
- Customer Education
Educate your customers on how to use your products or services effectively through your social media channels. This can reduce common queries and improve user satisfaction.
Prioritizing customer service in your social media strategy is a strategic move that can differentiate your business from the competition. By understanding your audience, providing timely responses, and maintaining a consistent brand voice, you can build trust and foster strong customer relationships in the digital landscape.
Step-by-Step Procedure: Prioritizing Customer Service in Your Social Media Strategy
- Understand Your Audience: Create detailed buyer personas to understand your customers’ needs.
- Choose the Right Platforms: Focus on platforms where your audience is most active.
- Prompt Response Time: Respond to inquiries within an hour.
- Consistency in Brand Voice: Maintain a consistent brand voice and tone.
- Train Your Team: Invest in training for your customer service team.
- Social Listening Tools: Use social listening tools for monitoring and engagement.
- Escalation Plan: Have a clear plan for complex issues.
- User-Generated Content: Encourage user-generated content and reviews.
- Feedback Collection: Actively seek feedback from customers.
- Measure and Analyze: Regularly measure KPIs and analyze data.
- Crisis Management: Prepare for negative comments or crises.
- Content Calendar: Create a content calendar for consistent engagement.
- Collaboration: Collaborate with other departments for a seamless experience.
- Adaptability: Stay agile and adapt to changing customer needs.
- Customer Education: Educate customers on using your products effectively.
This article was updated on November 18, 2023.