This week’s post is written by Ravi Shukle. In my posts, I provide advice to improve face to face customer interactions. But today’s customers are expecting service on-line and on the social media channels that they use. One of the great benefits of social media is connecting with people who we would otherwise not meet. Since I certainly am not an expert on how to use social media for customer service, I reached out halfway around the world to someone who is, Ravi. And he was kind enough to offer his insight here. You can learn more about Ravi at the end of this post.
Are you a business owner or entrepreneur looking to use social media for customer service?
If you said yes – then your customers are very lucky people, and you have come to the right place!
I recently gave a talk at the SocialHackUK conference here in London on how businesses can use social media for customer service. In this post I am going to share with you my journey on how I have used social media to deliver great customer service online, as well as some of the key tools & techniques that have helped me to drive results for my clients & brands over the years.
So sit back, take a sip of coffee, and let the discovery begin!
How to start using Social Media for Customer Service
So where do you start?
Now that is a great question. Having helped online businesses owners manage their online customer service & social media for nearly 10 years, I’ve made all the mistakes along the way, and as a result, I have discovered what works the best & what doesn’t.
So today we are going to take a look at the 2 core areas of getting started with social media for customer service, covering the best practices I have picked up over the years & the top tools that have helped save me precious time & money.
As we are going to be taking a look at how to begin using social media for customer service, it’s important to start from the very beginning. That is why I have outlined some of the key best practices you will need to follow when both starting & maintaining your social media channels.
These strategies will help to ensure your business remains consistent in being able to serve its customers in the long run.
A content calendar is simply a table of information that shows you what you are posting & on what day & time. This is essential before posting to your social channels, as it helps to keep your content organised & relevant. When creating your content calendar, a good starting point is to plan content for a week in advance, stating the days & times you are posting. One golden rule you want to remember is to always leave space in between your planned posts to allow for real time events & content.
Golden rule of planning social media content is to leave space for real time events ~ Click To Tweet
To avoid a back log of customer queries it’s important to have an escalation process in place. This simply means your business should ensure it has a list of people it can escalate queries to should they be needed.
For effective social media customer service ensure you have an escalation policy in place ~ Click To Tweet
If you have a small company, it’s crucial to determine who is in charge & can make decisions on behalf of the business. This helps to save time & resources as it ensures the customers’ queries are dealt with efficiently & by the correct individual.
67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing & this number is set to grow even further~ Click To Tweet
This means that online customer service has now gone social – a trend that is set to grow even further. As a result, you literally can’t afford to keep your customers waiting, as they will go elsewhere. To help combat this, as a starting point your business needs to make sure it is able to respond to all social comments within 1-3 hours.
If you do not have an answer to a query, don’t ignore it until the next day. Instead, be sure to leave a reply for the customer, letting them know that you’re looking into their query & will get back to them. This helps the customer feel appreciated & shows you have acknowledged their input.
Personality – sign off names / engage without automating
Treating your social media fans as individuals & not numbers is the key to creating great customer service service ~Click To Tweet
I know that as a business owner you are very busy & time is very precious. However, responding to customers via social media is not an area where you want to cut corners.
Here are a 5 ways your business can inject some personality via social media ~Click To Tweet
- Signing of comments with your name
- Addressing fans by their first name / @ tagging their username in comments
- Sharing personal stories or company stories that relate to the customer’s query
- Being honest – if you do not have an answer or have made a mistake, admit this right away
- Last but not least, have fun! Adding humour is a great way to connect on a more personal level & deepen the relationship with your fans. Of course, this should only be used at the appropriate times ;)No Days Off
While this may sound obvious to many, it is still one of the biggest mistakes I see on social media.
Creating great customer service on social media means taking no days off ~ Click To Tweet
Now this doesn’t mean you should hibernate away in your office 24/7 waiting for replies to come in so that you can respond. However, your business does need to manage expectations via your social channels, which means being prepared for comments or questions to come in on the weekends & public holidays.
To facilitate this, assign someone on the team to check these channels during weekends & holidays to ensure you do not miss out. Ignoring these comments can often mean creating more angry customers or even worse – can cause your fans to look elsewhere.
Customer Feedback – data from insights & asking questions
Encouraging customer feedback is a great way to generate insight from your key target market ~ Click To Tweet
Customer feedback can come in many forms on social media. However, there are two key ways in which your business can gather this information:
- Asking questions directly via your social channels
- Analysing social media insights
It really is that simple – asking your fans directly allows your business to get instant feedback on social media compared to a survey, and analysing social media data through insights allows you to get information on your customers in almost real time.
Using this information is the key to creating a great customer experience, as your business will be able to determine what your customers’ pain points are & what type of content they like to engage with.
It’s important to train all employees on how to use social media for customer service as it’s everyone’s responsibility ~Click To Tweet
Training all employees on social media is vital, as it’s the role of the whole company – not just one department – to better serve your customers. Therefore, training employees on how to use social media effectively empowers them to accurately represent the business outside working hours, and enables them to feel confident in replying to customers through social media.
This also gives them the confidence to reply right away, which means your team will also be more responsive – a win-win for both you & the customer!
Customer loyalty on social media means focusing on the quality of the interaction, not the quantity ~ Click To Tweet
Rewarding fans on social media is a great way to build customer loyalty, as it shows you truly appreciate your community & are willing to give back. What you want to remember here is that customer loyalty on social media doesn’t just mean the person who “likes” or “comments” the most.
It should be based on the quality of the interaction or conversation. If you had one customer who gave you very detailed feedback or shared a great story, this should be considered for a reward just as much as a customer who always looks to engage with your posts.
During my SocialHackUK talk I also went over some of my personal top tools, programmes & websites I use on an almost daily basis to effectively create content & manage social media for customer service. I didn’t want you to miss out, so here they are:
10 Tools to help you create content & manage social media for customer service ~ Click To Tweet
Offers a free & simple way to start creating & sharing images & short videos of your computer screen
A free resource to help you find high quality & commercial free images to use on the web & your social channels
A free social media management tool that allows you to manage & schedule content across many different social networks
Perfect for creating great images & presentations for your social networks
Offers a simple way to create graphic designs for your social channels with many great templates to choose from
A free online photo editing tool that allows you to add frames, text & effects to your images
An app that makes it easy for people to find & post amazing content consistently to their social channels
An app that helps you to manage all social media messages & content in one place as well having the ability to launch contests & promotions
An app that allows you to easily schedule, create & publish content across your social channels
Lets you create Facebook apps & build engaging social media marketing campaigns including contests, promotions & much more
Implementing these strategies and seeing results using them wont happen over night. It’s important to realise in order to build a true customer culture within your company as well as across your social media channels the company as a whole must embrace an open minded attitude to customer service and see this as a role for all employees and not just one department. Training all employees on the effective use of social media will help the over all responsiveness of the organiastion and help to increase that all important relationship with your fans helping to create that 5 star customer service.
Ravi Shukle is a customer service specialist who loves to help businesses create happy customers for life through customer service. He reveals his Secrets to creating Five Star service here. Follow him on Twitter .