Do you need a strategy for social media customer service?

The short answer? Yes. The slightly longer answer? More than ever, customers expect robust customer service via social media, and the best way to ensure you’re delivering it is to create and follow a clear plan for it.

Salesforce’s 2018 The State of the Connected Customer report shows that customers see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others as a direct line to brands:

• 47% of respondents expect B2C businesses to respond to their queries on social media within 1 hour
• 65% of customers are likely to switch brands if they don’t receive a consistent cross-channel customer service experience
• 43% of respondents said they use social media to voice their opinions about brands or products

How do you meet these expectations, ensure customers feel cared for on social, and ensure that you’re responding even to the comments, complaints and compliments about your business that aren’t directly addressed to you?

You create a plan. Below, we’ve outlined 11 elements it should include at a minimum. Keep it simple, keep it brief, but get these in place:

1. Specify when notifications will be checked, and who’ll check them

It’s critical that someone takes responsibility for performing social media customer service duties for your brand. Depending on the size of the company and the quantity of social media support requests, that might be anyone from the director to an external agency team, but ensure that someone is taking it seriously as part of their day-to-day responsibilities.

Give this person a process which outlines exactly how often notifications should be checked, and how they should do it.

A 2 to 3 times per day sweep of notifications across all social media channels is a good place to start for brands receiving a low-to-moderate number (5 – 20) enquiries per day.

2. Provide guidance on when to take a conversation ‘offline’

Public Facebook comments or tweets directed at your brand might be best answered in private – particularly when they concern complaints or potential leads.

Provide stock, customisable responses to incidents either where:

• A customer has an issue with your product or service: “I’m sorry to hear about this – could you message me with your order number so I can help you to resolve it?”
• Or indicates that they might want to buy something from you: “Great news! Could you send me a message and I’d be happy to help”

3. Set rules for how leads are dealt with

Leads are the gold dust that makes all the social media effort worthwhile – so ensure you enshrine how they should be treated in a set of simple rules:

• Once a customer has expressed interest in a product, take the conversation ‘offline’ to a private conversation.
• Don’t refer them to another channel, such as phone or email. Communicate with them on the channel where they’ve reached out to you.
• Keep the information you provide them brief and relevant – but keep the conversation going, including after you have directed them to where online they can make the purchase.

4. Ensure you don’t direct customers who’ve contacted you to other channels

An extension of the above – if a customer contacts you on Facebook, talk to them on Facebook. Don’t direct them to call you or email you.

5. Keep a set of standard responses to common questions

The chances are, you’ll receive the same or similar questions fairly frequently. Start keeping a list of stock responses to speed up response times and ensure consistency. The best way to do this is to build it up gradually over time, organically writing responses then storing them in a master file of common questions and answers.

Be careful not to be too eager with simply copying and pasting stock responses however – always customise answers with customers’ names and other details that pertain directly to their question where appropriate.

6. Have a rule to provide the answer AND links (not one or the other).

Just providing a link should never be considered a full answer to a query. Provide a brief answer directly to the customer, then provide a link ‘for more information’.

Likewise, if you’ve got a link to more information, don’t leave it out. Every little helps when it comes to driving traffic.

7. Outline a tone of voice that should be used

You should outline the tone of oice your brand should always have on social media.

You may already have some idea about this from the copy used on your website and other marketing materials, but it’s worth ensuring you’ve got a consistent approach. Think about where how formal you’d like to appear. Are contractions appropriate? Should you use emoji? Should customers be addressed by their first name, or as Mr. or Mrs?

Consider these ahead of time and ensure you stay consistent in how you approach language.

8. Make dealing with complaints promptly and properly a golden rule

Always prioritise dealing with complaints. Don’t let a problem expressed in public fester – show quickly, politely and directly that you’re dealing with it and making it right (then take it ‘offline’ and into private to resolve it fully).

9. Answer customer posts which mention you’re company, even if they don’t directly address you

Has a customer expressed that they visited you today, or that they just used one of your products – or are thinking of doing so? Reach out to them in the comments to thank them, and like or share as appropriate.

10. Publish opening times for your social media channels

Let customers know when you’re online via your page bio – ideally you’d be there 24/7, but that’s not always possible, so be realistic and make sure you set the right expectations.

It’s perfectly OK to put ‘Manned 9 till 5 Monday to Friday’ for most companies, and it helps ensure no one thinks you’re ignoring them.

11. Close the loop

Even when you’ve successfully concluded an exchange with a customer who wanted information, it’s worth going back to them a few days later, just to check that they got what they needed, or whether they have any further questions. It demonstrates attentiveness, a personal touch – and ensures leads don’t slip through the net.

 

You (might) need professional help – either with planning or the implementation of your social media strategy. We’re here to help if so.