It’s now hard to imagine a time when social media wasn’t the dominating medium for consumer complaints and customer service. Instead of taking the time to call, write a letter or seek out a manager in the store to express a complaint, today’s consumers simply open Facebook or Twitter on their phones and fire away. Consumers take to social media to express everything imaginable. In turn, today’s brands need to provide top notch customer service, which means to both proactively and reactively tend to customers’ feedback on social media.
But the question is – how? What’s the best way to ensure we’re hearing what the customer is saying and responding in a way that keeps or turns them into a loyal fan? Developing a successful social media customer service strategy may seem daunting, but it’s a necessary part of serving today’s customer. Here are our team’s answers to 3 of the most commonly asked questions about social media customer service:
What do we need to respond to?
This is a common question that brands need to ask themselves as they revamp their social media customer service strategy. While it’s extremely important that brands engage and be involved with their social community as much possible, remember that social media is a 24/7, never-resting cycle requiring time, discipline and a little empathy. Attempting to respond to every single positive and negative word spoken about a brand on social media would ensure no one on the team would sleep! The amount of conversation a brand can engage in, of course will depend on how many people help manage the social accounts while keeping within budget. It’s best to respond to as frequently possible, but realistically, not every tweet can be answered.
The highest priority a brand has is to make sure that every negative comment is addressed. As Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters, puts it, “Haters are not your problem. Ignoring them is.” Customer complaints are the perfect opportunity for brands to engage with their fans and win back their love. If a customer didn’t care about your brand, they wouldn’t take the time to go online and say anything about you. Brands need to listen to what their fans are saying and address individual complaints, but they also must look for patterns and trends in customer feedback and use that information to make their products or services better.
It’s important to engage with the positive feedback, as well. These customers took the time to write a raving Facebook review or Instagram post about a great experience they had with your company or product – so take the time to thank them for it. They are providing free brand ambassadorship!
What’s the best way to respond to negative and positive feedback?
While it may be tempting to hide an angry Facebook post that slams your brand, that’s ultimately not in your brand’s best interest. Don’t act like you have anything to hide; instead, show the online world that you value customer feedback and care about making it right.
Best practice would be to first respond to the negative feedback on the original platform then direct the conversation to another (private) platform. Now you can ask for contact information and details about the incident to rectify the situation. This is where empathy comes into play – be honest, try to sound unscripted and make the customer feel that their needs are valued.
On the other side of the customer service coin, when responding to positive reviews, make sure your response aligns with your brand voice. Try to be engaging with your fans who share photos of your product or other neutral/good content involving your brand because this is where the fun can really start. Sometimes just ‘liking’ a fan’s Instagram post, retweeting their positive statement or a simple comment like, “thanks for stopping by!” on a fan’s photo can really go a long way. Let your followers know that you hear them and share the love!
How quickly are brands expected to respond?
The answer to this again goes back to amount of resources available to a brand, but the mantra always should be “the sooner, the better.” Today it is necessary that every complaint is addressed in less than 24 hours. Even better, less than 12. During business hours, even sooner than that should be realistic. When a customer is taking to social media because they’re unhappy, it’s always going to be best to acknowledge them as quickly as possible. This is why sometimes having a team behind a brand’s accounts to help with social listening can provide lower response times and better results.
Social media customer service is showing no signs of slowing down or going away. Every day customers take to social media to complain or share their experience with a brand. It’s become one of the top ways consumers can interact with brands – and vice versa. In order to keep customers happy and in an effort to win back anyone from a bad experience, social media managers need to meet fans where they are and make sure that they’re providing the best customer service and solutions they can.