The drive-through gives you a chalupa when you order tacos. The retailer repeatedly sends you the wrong color. Your livestream of the championship game goes dark.
What do you do?
If you’re like millions of people today, you take to your favorite social media platform. Maybe you just vent to your Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Maybe you DM a complaint to the business’s Instagram account. One way or another, you’re going to share your frustration.
For business leaders, moments like these are pivotal. Because what happens next can quickly turn into positive or negative virtual word of mouth. The outcome can keep customers happy and win new ones, or it can disappoint them and turn away others (particularly if a complaint goes viral, as with the legendary “United Breaks Guitars” saga).
Without a doubt, social media customer support is crucial today. The trends are only accelerating, so let’s make sure you’re ready to serve customers when, where and how they want your help.
63% of customers now expect customer service via social media channels. 90% of social media users have already communicated with a brand through one of these platforms.*
What’s more, there’s often a disconnect between what customers expect, and what they’re actually getting.
About 80% of companies online believe that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, while only 8% of their customers agree.*
Is this an opportunity for your business to stand out? It certainly underscores the need to get social media customer care right.
You might think you’re doing a great job, but you’ve got to consider how much things have changed (and continue to change … rapidly). Remember when a good rule of thumb was responding to a customer’s email or phone call within 24 hours?
Ha — those were the days!
While stats vary online, it’s clear that many consumers expect nearly INSTANT responses on social media. HubSpot, for example, says 53% of twitter users expect a response in less than one hour.
Maybe you think your customers are old school.
It’s not every customer is using social media for customer service or shares these immediate expectations. But the Boomers and even earlier generations are embracing social media more each day. How long before your customers grow more demanding?
You need to be prepared to beat the most demanding customer’s stopwatch. Don’t be lulled into complacency, because the snowball of customer expectations is gathering momentum.
Think of it like Amazon Prime. Once we all got used to “free,” 2-day shipping, we lost patience for anything taking longer from anywhere else. The sweet taste of instant gratification seems to make us crave it more. So it is with social media customer support. The pandemic is increasing everyone’s appetite for johnny-on-the-spot online service just as online activity is increasing across the board.
All of which may seem daunting. But if the urgency to serve customers via social media is giving you heartburn, take heart:
Social media customer service doesn’t have to drain you.
Don’t overthink the challenge. The technology of customer communication may be evolving, but the fundamentals remain. It’s about being helpful, genuine and responsive.
With that in mind, here are three simple ways you can dramatically improve your customer service delivery on social media.
Tip #1: Align your team like a fire department.
The fire department keeps crews on call for certain days and hours of the week. When a fire ignites, no one has to ask, “Who can help with this fire?” The team responsible is on site and ready to go.
Do the same with your social media. Don’t expect your entire team to spring into action every time Pavlov rings his bell. Instead, break up your social media response team into time blocks so you have consistent coverage. And set an expected response time. This will ensure your team always responds quickly to meet customer expectations.
Tip #2: Keep the conversation on the channel it started.
If someone writes into Facebook Messenger with a customer issue, write them back on Facebook Messenger. If you jump over to email or phone right away, the follow up on this channel is lost. This sets up other team members for failure. Moreover, you may not be communicating via your customer’s preferred method. That’s the key: supporting them at their convenience.
Of course, there are times when you need to move the discussion to email or phone. If so, simply indicate that in the social media message thread. “Hi John. I’m looking at your order right now and will call you at xxx.xxx.xxxxx to review your order details. Is that still a good number?”
Then close out the conversation on social so everyone on your team knows the issue has been taken care of. This step is especially helpful if the customer service thread is public. Let the customer and the world know that you solved the issue and satisfied the customer.
Tip #3 Build a “Best Response” document.
Customer service should be consistent and in keeping with your company’s brand, culture and policies. You don’t want Jenny in marketing providing one response while Andy in customer service is telling the customer something different. But right now, a consistent approach is harder than ever. With so many people working from far-flung home locations, we can’t simply ask somebody in the next cube how to best handle a customer issue.
The good news is you can easily streamline these practices by creating a “Best Response” doc. Just build a shared file in Google or your email or CRM system. Cull a list of the most common customer service issues from your customer service inbox. Then build out templates for your best responses. I recommend hitting the key points, rather than writing out a full script. After all, you want your customer service representatives having real conversations in their own voices, not reciting lines.
Instead of developing a new response from scratch for each customer, any team member can copy, paste and edit the BEST response for each customer. This simple step can save your team lots of time and help satisfy a lot more customers while providing a unified brand experience.
Over time, these social media customer service best practices can make a huge impact in terms of handling issues efficiently. And you don’t have to stop with problem solving.
Social media presents new ways to have positive, proactive conversations with customers. Instead of sitting back and waiting for something to go wrong or a complaint to come in, you can lead these conversations. Social media It’s a chance to connect with customers on a personal level and possibly turn them into avid brand advocates in the process.
Here are some great examples of businesses that have turned social media help desk contacts into something special.
Even if you find the grand gestures in those examples a bit too ambitious, I hope you’re still inspired to get the basics right. If you’d like to talk through the challenge of social media customer service, feel free to contact us. Let’s make sure the next time you get a customer-related push notification, you’re primed to transform potential disappointment into delight!
*Source: Smart Insights