10 Ways to Become a Customer Service Rock Star on Social Media
Being on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter isn’t just about marketing and building awareness for you brand. Customer service is increasingly becoming a huge aspect of the social media landscape. A lot of people use online channels to voice out complaints and share bad experiences, so you should always be on your toes when it comes to handling the things being said about your company.
Performing customer service through social media isn’t a job that should be handled informally. If anything, companies should exert more effort to take it more seriously and spend more resources in training customer service reps.
Below are some tips and best practices for performing customer service via social media. Check them out and see which ones are applicable to your business:
1. Continuously monitor conversations – Use social media monitoring tools to track what’s being said about your company. Websites such as socialmention.com as well as bing.com/social are great (and free) tools that can help you get insights on what’s being said about your brand.
Monitor your social media mentions often. It’s best to see comments and mentions about your brand early on, before they catch fire and spread across the online realm. Wouldn’t you prefer to read comments first hand so that you can act on them rather than hear about them from someone else?
2. Respond quickly – Customers like speed. People want their questions answered immediately, and consumers want their concerns addressed ASAP. Speed is big part of customer service, so make sure that you are able to take care of your customers’ needs quickly. Besides, taking your own sweet time may only aggravate the situation.
Moreover, the web has the power to spread word like wildfire, so don’t make the mistake of not handling customer concerns a timely manner.
3. Avoid deleting negative comments (unless they contain profanity) – Deleting negative comments will only make you look guilty. Additionally, deleting an angry comment will make the commenter angrier, and could cause them to publish even more negative posts. When it comes to dealing with irate customers, it’s best to address these comments directly and help your customers the best way you can.
Of course, an exception to this rule is when a post contains profanity. If someone starts dropping the F-bomb or any other offensive terms, then delete those posts as soon as you can.
4. Always take the high road – Do not, under any circumstances argue with a commenter. It may be tempting to give people a piece of your mind, but arguing with them publicly will only make you look immature and unprofessional.
Always be polite and positive, even when you’re faced with angry comments. Be sympathetic and let your customers know that you care.
5. Utilize private messaging – Don’t let customer inquiries stay public for too long. It’s fine to answer simple questions on your wall or stream, but if a question or concern takes more than one post to answer, utilize private messaging to assist your customers further.
If they’re on Twitter, ask them to follow you so that you can send them a direct message. If you’re dealing with comments on Facebook, politely ask your customers to send you a private message so that you can respond accordingly.
6. Take it offline if you need to – If a concern gets too complicated, then it’s probably best to call the customer and speak with them directly. If it’s possible, give your customer a call, or ask them to contact you directly so that you can address their question or problem quickly and easily.
7. Be real – It may sound cliché, but honesty really is the best policy, especially when you’re speaking publicly on the Internet. Remember that when you put something up on the web, it will be there forever, no matter how many times you press the delete button.
When you’re dealing with negative comments online, address them head on. Don’t try to hide behind lies, and more importantly, do not create fake accounts to defend yourself.
Remember what happened to Chick-fil-A? The chicken restaurant was in the middle of a PR mess and Facebook users started posting arguments against the company. In the midst of all the negative comments, a Facebook user named “Abby Farle” chimed in to defend the restaurant. However, users soon discovered that Farle’s account was created merely hours before the comment was posted, indicating that the company may have just created the Facebook profile to counter the negative comments.
Further, the picture for the account was a stock photo from ShutterStock.com, making it even more obvious that the profile was fake. So did Chick-fil-A really create a fake account to defend the company? Their PR reps denied it and said that they don’t know who created the accounts.
However, it doesn’t matter whether Chick-fil-A really did it or not. The incident was widely covered across the blogosphere, and the restaurant fell into even more hot water. But here’s the thing: All that could’ve been prevented if the company had just been honest about the situation and if they had addressed the comments head on.
8. Show the face behind the brand – This tip is especially recommended for small businesses and “solopreneurs”. If you have your own company, it’s best to use your photo as a profile image. People will appreciate seeing the face behind the brand, and they’ll be more likely to engage with you if they see that an actual human being is speaking to them.
Big companies can probably get away with using their logo, mainly because of their size, but for small businesses, it’s best to include the photo of founder or team. This is social media, after all. People want to socialize with fellow human beings instead of abstract objects and logos.
9. Train your customer service reps – If you hired people to run your customer service department, be sure to train them well. Conduct orientations to ensure that they know exactly how your customers should be treated. If you can, sit with them for a few days and show them the right way of addressing customer concerns.
10. Go beyond Facebook and Twitter, if you have to – Think that social media customer service only applies to Facebook and Twitter? Think again. Consumers are using more and more avenues to voice out their opinions, so you may want to track your online mentions beyond the big social sites. Use Google Alerts to monitor any mentions of your brand. You can also visit sites like Yelp to see if there any reviews about your business that you need to pay attention to.
Image credit: Dell's Official Flickr Page