Over 90% of the Inc 500 use at least one social media platform, giving customers the opportunity to interact directly with them. Almost half of social media users have sought customer service with companies through social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. And the vast majority of those on social media (83% of Twitter users and 71% of Facebook users) expect a response from a company within the same day of posting a complaint or question.
Clearly, social media customer service is here to stay. But before diving into social media customer service, companies need a well-defined strategy.
At VHT (formerly known as Virtual Hold Technology), we build customer service solutions for multiple channels, including social media. We’ve helped design and implement solutions for social media customer service. Below, we’ve outlined the most important components of a winning social media strategy.
1. Prioritize Your Social Channels
Know which social channels your customers are on and prioritize each channel by the volume of customer inquiries.
2. Define the Escalation Process
Designate roles for each escalation point in the customer service journey. There should be a point person responding directly to customers on social channels. The point person should have direct access to a supervisor or manager, in case the customer requests an escalation. Additionally, an advanced support person should be available should the customer issue be a complex one.
3. Integrate Social With Your CRM
Record all social care cases in your CRM – the same CRM accessed by customer service, product, marketing, and sales. Over time, you should add social profiles to customer CRM records. This will be helpful in understanding customer data in a deeper way – down to the individual’s latest tweet about your company.
4. Communicate Your Hours and Response Times
Setting the right expectations can go a long way towards allaying customer frustration. If you offer customer support on social media channels, be sure to specify your hours and the level of support. Some businesses, for example, will provide customer support hours, as well as the level of support (e.g., tier 1), on their Twitter page.
5. Hire the Right Social Media Customer Service Staff
When it comes to social media, remember that everything is public and viewable by both customers and prospects. So don’t skimp on hiring a seasoned customer rep with impeccable written communication skills. A social media customer support person should not be an intern who is inexperienced with business communications and processes.
6. Know When to Switch to Private Communications
In general, when customers reach out via social media channels, companies should respond publicly — otherwise, it looks like you have something to hide. In the social media age, people appreciate a certain level of transparency. However, establish the points at which the front-line person should switch to private communications, e.g., email or phone. For example, too much back and forth on Twitter can be inefficient, not to mention annoying to your Twitter followers. So the solution could be that after two rounds of dialogue, the company representative should offer to reach out directly to the customer through a private channel. Another reason to switch to one-on-one is for obtaining confidential information like account details in order to resolve the issue.
7. Provide Helpful Information and Links
A good customer-oriented company is well-aware of its top product/service issues or questions. If password resets are the #1 reason for customer support calls, then post information on Twitter and Facebook about resetting passwords. Be proactive sharing helpful information that improves the customer experience.
8. Measure and Analyze Social Care Metrics
Social media customer service metrics should be tracked, measured, and analyzed. Over time, your business will be able to leverage this data to optimize the overall customer service program. Track the number of social care cases, cases by social channel, resolution times, top inquiries, and issues by product. In addition, track feature requests, customer service experiences, and sales referrals over social media.
9. Create a Plan For Social Media Crisis Communications
We’ve all heard of corporate communication blow-ups over social media. Your company doesn’t have to be as big as energy company BP to suffer from public customer criticism. Have a crisis plan in place to prepare for communication disasters. Read this guide for more details.
10. Share Social Data With the Organization
Don’t let all that data go to waste. Distribute these metrics regularly to leaders in every department. The report should highlight any trends, positive or negative, that need to be addressed by the relevant department.
Over to you. What are some effective social media customer care strategies that you’ve experienced, either as a customer or a business?