Jul 20 Good, Better, and Best Strategies for Customer Service on Social Media
Now that you have learned if your brand is ready for customer service on social media, it’s time for part two. Our team of Community Managers has created 3 tiers from Good to Best to help you determine what level of customer service on social media best fits your business strategy.
We will work from Good to Best, showing you the bare minimum of what you should have when offering customer service on social channels to everything that would make you stand out from the rest.
Tier 1 | Good | The Basics
- Humanize Responses/Engagement: No one likes a copy/paste response, so don’t do it. Make your responses on-brand and something a normal person would respond with (because you don’t want people to think you’re a robot or, much worse, that you just don’t care).
- Define Timeliness: You don’t need to respond to people immediately, but letting comments sit for 3-4 days isn’t acceptable. Find a realistic timeframe during which you can respond and publish that information somewhere to help set expectations.
- Have Community Guidelines Already in Place: Don’t just ignore/not respond to comments/questions. Have a simple system in place that gets you answers so you can respond to these items when you see them.
- Engage with the Positive Stuff, Too: It’s not just about addressing negative comments or questions – give the audience who is positively engaging with you a little love as well – a simple “like” goes a long way. Keep in mind, you don’t need to respond to everything, but customer service is a brand building opportunity.
- Keep Channels/Resources Updated and Spam Free: Any links or resources on your brand social channels should be checked regularly to ensure they are linking to the most up-to-date information – this includes any phone numbers. Similarly, keep the pages clear of spam/remove spammy comments as needed.
- Create Clear Connections to Customer Care: Community Managers should be checking that users have been successfully connected with customer care teams. Tagging the customer care team (or sending the customer the email/phone/etc. to connect with customer care) in a comment is one thing but taking the extra step to make sure the customer care team successfully connected/attempted to connect with the customer is very important. This will also help avoid having users coming back to the channels with more complaints when this connection wasn’t made.
Tier 2 | Better | A Step Above
- Do Your Homework: Community Managers shouldn’t be expected to have all the answers (they may not have the same knowledge level or access to data as a Customer Service Rep) but at the Better level, some homework can be done by the CM’s to see if they can answer the customers’ questions themselves before trying to pass it along to customer support.
- FAQs Prepped for Community Managers: Like the above, if a customer is asking a question that’s frequently asked, have the CM directly answer the question (not via copy and paste, but in a customized fashion). Don’t just send them a link to the FAQ page, take your time with customizing a response.
- More Personalized Engagement: In the Good section, we talked about giving a “like” to positive comments. At the Better level, identifying more opportunities to engage with audiences needs to be top of mind. Find posts that you’re tagged in versus just seeking opportunities on the brand page. Personalized comment responses back to the audience should be reinforced regardless of the overall sentiment.
- Acknowledging The Good and the Bad: Don’t just put a Band-Aid on something. If a mistake was made, own up to it on social. It’s a respectful move but please be cautious around any form of claim that may imply brand liability. Setting some parameters in this area is worth doing.
- Automated Responses for After Hours: If your teams can’t be on the channel 24/7, have automated responses in place to inform your customers when someone will be available to help them or when you will resume working hours so they can understand why they’re encountering a delay in response times.
Tier 3 | Best | Best-In-Class
- Full Triage Systems in Place: Escalation plans are clearly built out for efficient escalation for customer service needs from users.
- Give Channel Access to Customer Care Team: At the best level, CMs aren’t the only ones with channel access. In this case, your Customer Care team can directly connect with the customer in the channel to answer questions/comments/DMs/etc. provided that your triage systems make it clear who is responding to what.
- Access to PR Reps/Teams: If your brand is constantly running into PR issues, make sure your CMs can easily connect with PR reps to help facilitate responses to customers and know when to stay out of a conversation for damage control.
- Functional CRM Systems Available: Being able to easily see a customer’s history and if they’ve experienced this issue or others in the past helps provide CMs and Customer Care reps with extra context when responding. It can also help avoid opening multiple support tickets or cases for the same user, who just happens to be trying to get help on every brand channel you own.
- Have Coverage for Nights and Weekends: If your brand is often receiving comments outside of regular business hours, have staff in place to actively engage and keep things moving forward. Timeliness is always important to consumers. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need 24/7 coverage, however.
- Search for Surprise & Delight Opportunities: Again, it’s not always about cleaning up the negative, but delighting audiences with gifts/discounts/etc. based on stories they’ve shared on social (both on and off the brand page). Of course, helping people who had a negative experience with free products can also be a bonus, but don’t be afraid to take a chance when you see an opportunity to make a user a fan for life – even a simple retweet can go a long way.
Which tier of support do you think would work well for your brand? Are there any points in these tiers that really stand out to you? If yes, mark them down, and don’t be afraid to curate a tier of support on your own.
Another thing to remember when developing a plan is putting yourself in the user’s shoes – when you have a problem with a brand, what would you want to be done if you reached out on social? What is considered acceptable and what is not? This input can also help you shape your brand support vision.
What About Having Dedicated Customer Service on Social Channels?
We’re seeing this trend happen with brands, especially larger ones. Basically, they create specific social channels where they want users to reach out to them when they need help from customer service. In theory, this sounds great – it avoids having the complaints roll into your main social pages. You could have the right people working those channels to provide solutions for your customers. It would help your main brand pages continue to look fun, engaging, and full of positive reviews.
The problem is – most users aren’t looking for those designated customer service brand channels.
They’re going to tag or navigate to a brand’s main page because that is often what’s easiest for them. They go right to the source and those main pages are usually more active. Most users don’t often follow these customer support pages either, so there’s a good chance even if you set these pages up, your customers probably won’t know they exist unless you tell them about it.
Sure, you could try redirecting users to these designated support channels as needed, but when someone is already upset, and they get a notification that pushes them somewhere else (instead of getting help immediately as they anticipated) you’re adding fuel to their fire. They will likely remember that dismissal of their problem more than the actual resolution at times. It can also spark users to lose their patience entirely and start spamming negative posts toward the brand until they are helped.
The other issue you risk is having your CMs and Customer Care reps duplicating their efforts by trying to hold down all the social channels, from the main pages to the customer support ones. That can also lead to team burnout, higher turnover, and losing steam to be empathetic and helpful toward users who need assistance.
Remember, the key to having strong customer service falls to the individuals you have acting on it, so do what you can to keep your team strong and positive because it can be challenging to face more negative than positive engagements day-to-day.
Being best in class means making everything as easy as possible for your users when they come to your brand’s social channels and need your help with a problem or concern.
To do this, you need to determine if your brand falls into an industry where customer service on social media makes sense, your social climate proves that your brand could benefit or needs to offer support to your audience, then determine what kind of budget you have to work with (in case you need to invest in more staffing, a CRM to use or third party tools to help manage and work through comments and messages, etc.).
It also means having set guidelines and processes in place so when a user comments/messages needing help, they can be streamlined in a timely manner and resolved by the right team members. It all sounds simple, but there can be a lot of work upfront to make things work well, especially when your brand is on the larger side or you encounter a high volume of support-related comments/messages.
Keep in mind, your guidelines and processes in place will need to be updated frequently. It’s important to have regular meetings with your CMs and Customer Care reps to see what they’re seeing in the channels, what improvements can be made, and is there anything else the brand could do to make the social climate better. It’s also beneficial to check in with your PR team to make sure your team has eyes on anything that may require monitoring within any of your social communities.
Please always be open to ideas from your social media team members because they’re the ones in the channel’s day-to-day and will likely understand the brand’s audience on a deeper level compared to what others may see when checking the brand’s social channel.
Are you ready to make your brand the best in class by offering exceptional customer service on social?
Contact our team of Community Managers today – they’ve worked with brands in several industries, different sizes and can offer incredible insights to set your brand up for success.
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