The true beauty of social media is that you can connect in real-time with anyone. And having that kind of accessibility at your fingertips makes for a real game-changer when it comes to customer service! That's why social customer service should be an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Customers prefer a “familiar” environment when it comes to interacting with the brands they love. So it makes perfect sense that social media would be a valuable platform to address any issues with a company.
The statistics speak for themselves. According to Forrester, 80% of consumers use social media to engage with brands. BigCommerce reports that 1 in 3 social media users would rather have social customer care services than telephone or email, and 75% of people are likely to post something positive about your brand if you make meaningful social media connections.
Being available for customers on social media is a must-have for today’s brands, which is why creating a social customer service strategy is key to your success. Since it’s a preferred mode of communication for issue resolution, meeting your customer’s needs on social media will give your company a competitive edge. Furthermore, if you provide a positive social customer service experience, your consumers are more likely to recommend your brand to others.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
How to create a social customer service strategy
One best practice is having one or more persons dedicated to social customer service. This is highly recommended for growing and retaining customers. It covers support services across all stages of a purchase and provides a forum for addressing complaints, answering questions, and issuing refunds.
The following are some of the key steps to creating a successful social customer service strategy:
Set up brand monitoring
Brand monitoring, also known as social listening, is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and more. Depending on the size of the company, this may be handled by one or more persons, a support team, or customer service.
One way to monitor what customers are saying about your brand and easily locate social mentions is to customize your streams with specific words. There are many social media monitoring tools available that can help you do just that. G2 does a great job highlighting the best social customer service software on the market.
Offer a dedicated support channel
In addition to having a dedicated support team, you may also want to consider offering a dedicated support channel. By creating a support profile and a dedicated handle within your social media accounts, you can easily direct customers who need assistance to one place. This helps alleviate the challenge of tracking down customer questions in your feed and makes it easier to segment social content and customer service.
Having a support channel also speeds up response time when answering queries because you will be able to locate them quickly--remember, speed matters! One great example is XBox (see below).
Create social media guidelines
These guidelines should align with your company values and the social marketing team. When responding to customer queries on social media, it’s important to identify a consistent brand voice. You also want to ensure that you are both professional and approachable. Be sure to determine an appropriate response time for each social channel and create a protocol for escalating customer issues. When you set clear social media guidelines, there will be fewer accidents or mistakes made.
This is key! Create a repository of the most frequently asked questions from customers across your social media channels, and formulate the appropriate answers. In many cases, these answers may be “canned,” but you can always personalize individual messages and greetings so that your answers don’t sound robotic. Consider creating templates for the most commonly asked questions/concerns, so that all you have to do is plug and play. Being prepared will greatly increase your response time.
The brands that are nailing it
Social media is often a place where people come to complain about brands or negative experiences. This is precisely why having a strong customer service strategy is crucial to your brand’s success. When it comes to best practices, the following are examples of brands that have put tactics in place that are paving the way for great online customer service.
One company that is known for its exceptional social customer service is Zappos. In fact, their customer service has even been coined as “legendary.” They have truly mastered the art of rapid response time when it comes to communicating with their customers.
They not only pride themselves in responding quickly, but also with a friendly and practical tone. Since 1999, Zappos’s mission has been “to be the company that provides the absolute best service online — not just in shoes, but in any category.” They put their passion and best forward when it comes to personalized customer service by making it their number one priority--and it shows. Their personalized message in the tweet below really says it all!
Microsoft Xbox actually won a Guinness World Record for “Most Responsive Brand on Twitter.” It doesn’t get much better than that! They attribute their social customer service success to the use of their support channel, @XboxSupport. They are noted as being able to reply with an average time of 2 minutes and 42 seconds, thanks to their customer service team dedicated specifically to Twitter support. They respond publicly to their customers which holds them accountable, since everyone can see their responses.
By setting up monitoring tools, they are also able to proactively find and contact users who mention their brand. Moreover, their dedicated approach to social customer service has grown their account to 1.7 million followers. In the tweet below, Xbox was clear and concise in their proactive messaging, which is sometimes all that is needed when a customer is looking for an answer to a question.
Newcomer Discord, an instant messaging platform for voice, video, and text, is also making a name for themselves with their social customer service. They have a pulse on what their customers want and expect, which allows them to build greater relationships. With over a quarter of a billion users, Discord is one of the most popular ways gamers communicate online.
Since their platform is based on online communication, having strong customer service is key to their mission. In the Twitter post below, Discord shows genuine authenticity, uses a friendly tone, and answers a similar question from multiple users all at once. Win-win!
The ultimate benefits
The benefits are endless when it comes to creating and implementing a successful social customer service strategy.
Building better relationships with your customers through social support can add up to huge wins, especially when it comes to retention. When you deliver excellent customer service, your customers will do more business with you.
When it comes to social customer service, response time is everything. The more available you are for your customers, the easier the experience will be for them. You have the opportunity to create a winning situation online by answering promptly, and eliminating the hold times on the phone.
At the end of the day, have fun with your customer interactions, and provide every customer with an authentic and personal experience. When you make customer service a key value of your company culture, your customers will become your loyal fans. And those fans will respond by spreading the word about your brand.
“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury, Social Media Influencer