Social media customer service – When you think about online marketing, you typically think about SEM, emails, or Facebook ads. What do these strategies all have in common? They’re designed to grab attention, make a lasting impression, start conversations, increase brand awareness, and ultimately bring in more customers. However, when all your competitors are running the same campaigns, what makes a company stand out?

Great experiences.

In today’s hyper-connected world, it just takes the tap of a button to share an experience with the world. A customer’s experience is not over just because a transaction was completed. In many cases, customer service defines the customer experience.

Customer service isn’t what it used to be

Customer service expectations are rising year over year: 75% of online customers expect support within 5 minutes (McKinsey). Traditional avenues like email and call centers have been overtaken by social media. Customers use social as a support avenue because they’re already there. They don’t have to take any extra time searching for your business, finding a phone number or email, being put on hold, or filling out an online form.

On social media, customer service becomes a spectator sport. When a customer complains online, they might as well have called or emailed hundreds or thousands of followers. The complaint itself is less important to those who see it than the way the business responds to it. Customers who receive service request responses via social media spend 20-40% more (Social Media Today). Not only that, but 48% of customers tell their friends about the good customer service they received on social media (Wharton/UPenn).

Social media customer service – Where many businesses go wrong

While speed is definitely important, it should not be your only focus. Canned responses and chatbots do save you time and effort initially, but they only prove that you’re good at copying and pasting. They don’t establish trust or credibility, and they aren’t at all memorable. Efficiency is all too often mistaken for competency. Perhaps that’s why 80% of companies believe they deliver superior social media customer service, but only 8% of customers agree (Buffer).

Not responding to social media complaints is just as bad as responding poorly: 88% of customers are less likely to purchase from a company that leaves questions on social unanswered (Conversocial). Left unanswered, what began as one complaint can escalate into a heated conversation as more disgruntled customers chime in. Even if such extreme cases don’t occur, ignoring pricing or product questions can cost you high-quality leads.

What does “good” social media customer care mean?

Simply responding is not going to get any applause because customers expect you to resolve their problems. To really impress them, businesses must go above and beyond to create a memorable experience worth sharing. So what makes for a memorable experience?

  • Prompt. That 5-minute window might not always be possible, but it’s wise to set a target resolution time of no longer than 30 minutes. That way you can solve their problem before they get too frustrated, and fewer people see their unanswered complaints.
  • Seamless. According to research by Microsoft, the two aspects customers consider most important are 1) not being transferred to another agent, and 2) first-contact resolution (Microsoft). If your social media team is monitoring mentions but is not qualified to offer support, make sure you have a system in place to minimize the number of employees involved. For example, you could use a social ticketing platform that allows your social team to flag posts as support tickets and automatically notifies designated support reps who can jump in and help. There are tools available that allow teams to manage social mentions this way and even integrate them into their existing support systems. For example, Birdeye’s Social Ticketing lets you convert social mentions into support tickets manually or automatically, assign reps to each ticket, collaborate internally, and track the speed of issue resolution by an employee over time.
  • Personalized. Addressing the customer by name and signing your response by name humanizes your brand and helps customers trust you. To help with this, for some businesses it might make sense to create a separate Twitter handle dedicated to support requests.
  • Thorough. Don’t mark an issue as resolved until you have confirmation from the customer. If a customer doesn’t reply, follow up to make sure they don’t have any other questions or concerns. Prioritize different types of customer posts to ensure the urgent ones are addressed first. For example, differentiate between product or service requests, pricing questions, and general brand mentions. It helps to use social listening software to keep track of these priorities with content ticketing and tagging.
Social media customer service
  • Proactive. It’s not just about listening and reacting. It’s also important to post engaging content of your own. Use social media as an avenue to your website and other branded content: identify customer issues that could be answered with a link to an existing blog post or video. Social media monitoring can tell you what your customers care about — use those findings to create informed posts that solve issues preemptively. For example, if lots of customers mention it took them a while to figure out how to use the juicing machine they bought from you, share a tutorial video with step-by-step juicing instructions. Proactively post on a consistent basis and you’ll minimize the number of customer service requests you receive, making it easier to manage each one.

A tool like Birdeye’s Social Publishing is a great way to stay on top of social shares. With Social Publishing, you can post to multiple social channels at once, and schedule posts in advance for automatic future publication. This way you can easily maintain a consistent social presence, increase engagement, and grow your following.

How can social media customer service boost customer acquisition?

Great social media customer service doesn’t just lead to higher retention and increased CLV, it also provides powerful marketing content: by handling customer complaints promptly and thoroughly, you can use issue resolution to promote your brand. The best part is, you don’t have to do any extra work. Customers become your brand advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth across the web. Responding to customers and sharing relevant content increases post engagement, expanding your audience reach. With enough loyal customers, you have a whole community to back you up whenever a customer posts negative feedback about you on social media or review sites.

You may also want to read What is social listening?

The bottom line: social media customer service is worth it

It’s safe to say social media customer service is worth investing in. Social media is an integral part of a strong customer service strategy, and successful customer service programs are on average responsible for a 5-10% revenue increase and cost reduction of 15-20% in 2-3 years (McKinsey).

Great customer care leads to happy customers. The best marketing content does not come from the highest budget–it comes from the happiest customers. View a free demo to see how Birdeye can help you measure and improve customer happiness.