Support Snap: Customer Service via Social Media

Support Snap: Your weekly customer support super tip

A recent study by Accent Marketing Solutions tells us what we kind of already knew: a large majority (82%) of users communicate with brands on social media for customer service issues.

In other words, if your company has a Facebook page or a Twitter profile, chances are, sooner or later, people are going to start using it to contact you with support issues. Do you know how to react?

Overwhelmingly, research is showing that companies are not prepared to provide the same level of service on Facebook and Twitter that they do through other channels (phone, email, etc.); and that, conversely, customers are turning to these channels more and more often, only to be let down. Another study, administered by Forrester Consulting, found that while the number of customers using social media for customer service issues is steadily rising, customers still rate these experiences much lower than those they have via traditional customer service channels.

What does this mean? It means companies are failing. Facebook Thumbs Down

Clare Wilkerson, head of multichannel strategy at Direct Line, stated, “When a customer reaches out for help they don’t care about the channel, they just want a great service experience.” As a consumer, you know this to be true. 

[Tweet “Customers don’t care about the channel; they just want a great service experience.”]

Here are some tips for raising the bar on your customer service via social media.

Keep it Snappy

We’ve discussed the idea of speed of response before. We always advocate keeping it Snappy, and keeping it within reason. The fact is social media doesn’t sleep. But you do, and that’s OK.

If you have a rotating cohort of support staff able to monitor your social media accounts 24/7, well, you’re probably Coca Cola or Target, and I’m not sure why you’re reading this. As for the rest of us: Be realistic about your ability to respond in a certain timeframe. Communicate that timeframe to your customers. Post your customer service hours in the “about” section of your Facebook page, for example, or even as part of your cover graphic. Then schedule Facebook and Twitter into your support day, along with email and phone.

Be Open

The thing that scares most of us away from customer interaction on social media is that unlike most traditional forms of customer support, social media is public.

It’s time to quit hiding, though. Social media is here, your customers use it, and they expect you to step up. Look at it as an opportunity to shine. Great customer support is its own kind of marketing, after all. Whereas before you may have relied on word of mouth for stories of your fabled customer experience to travel, now it’s in your hands. Treat every customer interaction as a performance, and show them what you’re made of.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the customer before you and show off. It means the opposite: focus on a customer, give them the gold-star treatment, and sleep well knowing anybody watching has only good things to say.

Be Savvy

OK. I know I just told you to step up into the spotlight and shine. But what about those lengthy, complicated customer issues? Sometimes there’s no help for it; you need to move a conversation off your wall. The best way to do this is to provide the customer with a direct email or phone number to reach a real person for direct help. Sloughing them off to your support page isn’t going to do it, so don’t try it. It’ll only make you look distant and unwilling to go the extra mile.

Don’t Ignore the Good Stuff

Because you’re so committed to your customer, you know what? Most of the comments you see on social media are probably going to be positive. Acknowledge them! Say thank you. It’s polite, and it breeds good will.

Don’t Delete the Bad Stuff

It’s tempting. But you know better, don’t you? Of course you do. We’re all well-versed enough in social media to know a brand cover-up when we see one. Don’t do that. Just don’t.

When a negative comment appears in public on your social media account, respond publicly, and graciously. Offer to help. Don’t argue or escalate, and whatever you do, don’t delete the real complaints of real customers with real problems.

As Always…Don’t Feed the Trolls

Know the difference between a real customer having a genuine problem, and somebody stirring up trouble for entertainment. Trolls happen. This is the internet. Have faith that your customers will recognize a troll when they see one, and don’t engage in pointless, endless arguments in a futile attempt to prove a point.

What has your experience been providing customer support via social media? Let us know in the comments!


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