Imagine this scenario: a customer is in front of you making a complaint. You step away and then finally address the fuming customer after a few hours. That would never happen, right? Well, this is how many customers feel when they are expressing a complaint on social media and they don’t get a response for hours or even days.
Most businesses have worked very hard to build relationships online, and now that people are engaging, there is a new opportunity to provide excellent customer service online. Social media isn’t just about brand awareness and marketing your product or service anymore. Now, it is about social care: providing satisfying answers to questions and complaints online while building relationships.
Social customer care is the most visible of all your customer service efforts, so it’s important to get it right. But few companies offer training on this relatively new area of service. Don’t worry! We’ve got some tips to help you out.
Respond Online as You Would In Person
Be polite and helpful. Use the person’s name when responding – and sign your own name or initials at the end of your post. Provide helpful links to more information. Ask if there is anything else you can do to help. Go out of your way to make the client feel heard and special!
Respond Quickly to Complaints and Questions
Respond as quickly as you are able to on social media. Don’t have a large company or don’t have business hours over the weekend? State your hours somewhere on your social profile and tell people what they can expect. Some social media platforms, like Facebook, for example, allow you to set up automatic replies in direct messages. Be sure to include typical response times within your automatic reply so that your customer isn’t left wondering if you are neglecting them.
All Interactions Deserve a Response!
Just because someone isn’t complaining doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a response of some sort. All positive customer interactions should be liked, retweeted, etc. And a comment is even better!
There are exceptions to this rule, of course. If a customer is being abusive or using inappropriate language after you have tried to help them, then you may have to make the difficult decision to ban the customer from your page. This should always be a last resort. Have a discussion with your team about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior on your social media outlets.
Knowing When to Stay Public, or Go to Direct Messages
Some conversations are best had in private. Some complaints are easily dealt with publicly and others aren’t. Some will simply take up too many characters on Twitter. And, with especially difficult conversations, it’s best to have Direct Message documentation. Your kind and helpful demeanor does not change whether you are having a public or private conversation. And if the customer at any point expresses a wish to talk to you offline, hop on the phone!
Some businesses get so many messages online that it’s a good idea to set up a priority list. The highest priority should be given to responding to complaints, account/client questions, and urgent/timely requests. Second priority is given to things like acknowledging and thanking people for positive feedback and responding to general comments about your business or brand.
Be Proactive in Finding Customers
It may surprise you to find out that people are talking about your business online without tagging you in their posts. Once you have taken care of direct comments and complaints, do a search for your business name on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Retweet happy customers and thank them for their tweet. Introduce yourself. Start a conversation – make a new friend!
There are many other examples of problems and opportunities that can arise with social media customer care, but the above is a good place to start if you don’t have a social plan in place. Remember, customers want to be heard whether they are physically present or only available online. Be attentive, proactive, and responsive and most of your social interactions will be productive.
Brandi Hand, Queen of Visibility, Red-Carpet Learning Systems
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