How Social Media Can Become Your Customer Service Workhorse

What do you do when you cancel dinner plans because Comcast tech support didn’t arrive within their four hour window to fix your Internet? Or, the new couch you spent months saving for is no longer available? Or, the contractor that came so highly recommended took twice the time he promised to finish your deck at double the cost?

If you’re like a growing number of today’s consumers, you don’t wait on hold for a customer service representative or submit a contact form. Instead, you jump on Facebook and post about how the worst date of your life was with the Comcast man who no-showed. Or, you share a photo of your long-anticipated couch on Instagram and tag the company to find out when it will be back in stock. Maybe you even fume about your disaster deck experience on your social media site-du-jour.

While consumers don’t give a second thought to this in-the-moment, social dialoguing, companies should. Quick, efficient and personable responses are the difference between brand advocates and lost customers. They show not just one customer – but also that customer’s friends and followers – that their service is valued. More importantly, companies that engage and respond to their customer service requests can increase sales from those customers by 20 to 40 percent (Bain & Company).

So, what’s the best way to engage and respond to customer service requests in this ever-evolving social media world? Take a look at five social media trends that can help your company provide better customer care in the coming year.

  1. Provide faster customer response times – Social media has always been about the here and now, but platforms like Facebook are pushing faster response times by showing companies how long it takes to respond to customers and letting them save replies. Take advantage of these tools. Approximately 71 percent of customers say that one of the most important things a company can do to provide good service is to value their time (Forrester).
  2. Include call-to-action buttons – Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube recently made it possible for companies to leverage content-rich media with advertisement driven “buy buttons.” Instagram recently followed suit with its “Shop Now,” “Install Now” and “Sign Up” buttons. When used appropriately, these e-commerce tools can help consumers alleviate the frustration of navigating offsite to buy products.
  3. Leverage social media sites that keep users in-app longer – Social media sites are doing everything they can to prevent users from leaving their app, whether it’s Facebook’s Instant Articles and in-stream videos or Pinterest’s shop-able pins. If this means customers aren’t leaving social media sites to visit your website as often, leverage all the available platform resources to support customer queries that might otherwise come your way. Post searchable articles, add videos, incorporate buy buttons and make sure your product information is easy to find.
  4. Set clear customer care guidelines – If customer service makes up a significant portion of your company’s business, consider a separate social media profile designated for customer service that clearly states your hours of operation. Letting customers know where, when and how they can get a response sets the customer service experience off on the right foot.
  5. Provide proactive customer service – the best defense is always offense. Utilize, or make sure your agency is utilizing, social media monitoring and sentiment services to anticipate and resolve customer issues. Pay attention to social media feedback, both positive and negative, and identify ways to make adjustments that improve the customer experience. This is an easy and effective way to show you care about your customers and build a steady stream of loyal followers.

Remember, customers who’ve had a positive social media service experience are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand (Harvard Business Review). So, whatever steps you take towards improving your company’s social media customer care will be in the right direction.