Nick Olsen of Genesys shares his advice for improving your customer service on the social media channel.
Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. LinkedIn. SnapChat. TikTok.
The social media site du jour might fluctuate, but this doesn’t: Brands must meet customers where they are.
In the world of customer engagement, digital channels are growing fastest. A recent Sprout Social study found that 91% of people believe in social media’s power to connect people — and 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them.
This makes social media a powerful hub for conversations with your customers and prospects. If you’re looking to maximize the value of social media for customer service, there are some essential things you can do to make it easier for your customers to connect with you and solve their problems.
Anticipate What Customers Want From Your Brand on Social Media
The specific engagement your brand will see on social media varies according to your business and the customers you serve. But you can prepare for some of the more universal inquiries. Let’s look at three common interaction types you’ll see as your customers turn to social media for answers.
1. Help With the Basics
Think about the simple transactional questions your agents handle every day, including “I need help logging in” or “How do I check my account balance?” You might also get asked “What is your return policy?”
You might already have an FAQ page to address these questions. That’s a great place to start to prepare your team to address the same types of inquiries through social media. And down the road, these are the kinds of inquiries and use cases that are good candidates for automation.
2. Questions About Your Product or Service
This is customer service at its best. And this category is fun to tackle — it holds a lot of potential for your brand.
Your current and potential customers are almost certainly asking questions about the products you sell or the services you provide.
These questions often come in as a direct message, so they might not be as visible. Work with your social media team to make sure they’re monitoring for these types of inquiries and know how to route them to the right team.
That will help you respond quickly and provide a great customer service experience.
3. Complaints and Challenges
This one is last on the list for a reason. (You were looking for it, weren’t you?) Social media is a very open — and visible — channel. That can create a lot of power.
A single post from a frustrated customer can be seen and heard across social media in a way that a phone call can’t.
However, this shouldn’t scare your company away from being engaged and authentic on your social media channels. It just means that having a plan for these kinds of interactions can help you respond in an appropriate and timely way. Keep reading for some tips on how to do just that.
Providing Good Customer Service on Social Media
The customer service skills you already instil in your team will go a long way to providing great customer experiences, regardless of channel.
But there are some key things to keep in mind when you’re offering customer service on social media platforms.
This world moves fast, especially online. When using social media for customer service, the speed of your response is crucial.
Aim to respond cordially as quickly as possible. This could take some coordination.
At many companies, social media channels are managed by a corporate marketing team or brand team. This team needs a clear way to connect customers with your contact centre and the customer service team that addresses customer questions and concerns.
A strong relationship between these teams and the right processes and tools will make these experiences effortless for your customers.
Be Personable and Authentic
Social media is such a personal channel. This is the same space where your customers connect with family and friends — and where they find information, inspiration and cat videos.
If your brand comes across as rigid or robotic, you risk seeming out of place and out of touch.
Little things can go a long way to giving your social media presence the personal touch it needs. When you reply to customers, always use their first name – or their handle – if you can’t determine their name.
Also it’s a good practice for your employees to sign off with a first name and last initial when speaking to customers from a brand account, i.e., -Nick O. This helps convey the human connection.
Think Guides, Not Scripts
This is directly tied to being personable and sounding human. Guides or starter templates can help with speedy responses for common inquiries.
But use a bit of caution. If you’re saying the same thing over and over, you risk losing authenticity. Trust your team and give them freedom to deviate from the script.
Meet Customers Where They Are and Stay Where They Are
As a general rule of thumb, resolve customer inquiries on the channel in which they began, if at all possible.
If a customer reaches out to your company on Facebook, do your best to immediately resolve the issue right there or move it to a private Facebook message. If you must involve email, begin by getting the conversation to a private message on the social platform, and then keep it simple once you transition to email.
There can be exceptions to this. Sometimes, your customers will want to hop on a phone call for more complex scenarios. And different social media channels can play nicely together, too.
For example, brands with products that require assembly or installation might have great success with providing links to instructional YouTube videos — even if a customer reached out on another channel. Just be thoughtful about the experience if you need to move between channels.
Get to a One-to-One Interaction Quickly
This tip is useful for handling customer complaints. Because social media is so visible, you don’t want to drag dirty laundry through that public space.
Avoid a back-and-forth dialogue in a comments thread. Instead, get to a one-to-one interaction quickly. Make a public response, so others know your brand is responsive, and then switch to a private message.
From there, route the interaction to the right team so they can hear out the customer’s concerns. Listen first. And be transparent about what the issue is and the next steps to resolve it.
Customers increasingly expect brands to understand their needs and respond with honesty. While these conversations can be tough, they’re also great opportunities to earn your customers’ trust and loyalty.
Find Opportunities to Set Your Brand Apart on Social Media
You can find ways to provide excellent customer service that makes your social media presence a competitive differentiator.
Getting started can be as simple as checking out your competitors’ social media channels and profiles.
Here are some questions to ask when you’re checking out the competition:
- On which social media channels do they seem to have the strongest presence? What about the most engagement? Do you see any gaps where your customers are but your competitors aren’t?
- What are they saying? How do they speak to their customers? How do they interact with other brands?
- What type of content do they share? Are there videos or live videos? Is it open information or gated resources? Do they share big news about their company or shine a spotlight on their customers? Is it their own content or do they curate industry pieces? How often do they post?
This research will highlight opportunities for your brand to do things differently — or to try a different flavour of things that seem to be working well for other companies.
Build Stronger Relationships and Customer Loyalty With Moments of Delight
Providing customer service on social media isn’t just about reacting. It’s also a great opportunity to be proactive and create more engagement with your brand.
Suppose that someone mentions your brand in a positive comment or post. They might not need anything from you, but you should respond anyway. This is a great way to show that you’re actively listening to your customers.
You want to encourage them to engage with you on social media. You can also turn those mentions into opportunities to create moments of delight.
For example, imagine if a resort guest posts a great photo from their room’s balcony, looking out over a beautiful beach. The guest mentions or tags the brand in the post. This brand’s social media team has a lot of options. They can do nothing. They can like or reshare the post. They can respond with a personalized comment and maybe throw in a fitting emoji. Or they can do something delightful.
The social media team can find a way to send a small box of chocolates to the guest’s room, with a handwritten note, thanking them for the post and wishing them a lovely stay. (True story. The team chose that last option.)
Those moments of personalized, meaningful connection between a brand and its customers are incredibly powerful. That is the potential of social media for great customer service — and for exceptional customer experiences.