Before social media took over the world, customers could only reach out to you—specifically, your customer support agents—with concerns through phone calls, in-person conversations, or later on, via email.
In addition to frustratingly slow response times, another issue with that kind of support was that reasonable grievances would only make it as far as the agents. Although your customer support team would help each individual customer on a case by case basis, the root cause of the call volumes were never escalated past the operational floor of the call center. In effect, businesses were simply ignoring complaints, thinking that a handful of disappointed clients couldn’t possibly hurt their bottom line. Luckily, recent technological advancements are now changing how brands treat customer feedback.
One such development is social media. The growth of social media has not only provided consumers with additional ways to reach out to businesses but has also given them an avenue to air their disappointments and satisfaction for the whole online community to see. Companies now have to be extra mindful of what netizens are saying about their brand on the internet.
Social media platforms are especially useful for SMEs to boost brand awareness and cost-effectively market their products or services. More remarkably, they are also now being utilized to listen to and address consumer feedback and concerns in real-time. The practice of providing support on such platforms is referred to as social customer service or social media support.
The practice makes perfect sense. Marketers have always been taught to promote where the people are, and they are definitely on social media sites. Facebook alone has over 2.41 billion monthly active users today. It also makes sense for consumers to use digital media channel to connect to companies because this is what those same brands often use to communicate.
Social media support has found such a solid footing in customer service that people are choosing it over other channels now. In a survey by Sprout Social Index, 90% of consumers have used social media to communicate with a brand, with 34.5% saying that they prefer it to phone and email.
Established brands aren’t the only ones that can leverage their social media profiles for support. This practice is even more useful for SMEs, as it is a cost-efficient solution that also offers a multitude of benefits. But, like any other strategy, it can only be effective if you execute it in the best possible ways.
As mentioned, traditional support methods cannot respond to complaints or concerns immediately. However, customers expect a brand’s social media support to be “always-on,” that is why 42% of consumers expect a response within an hour.
As such, make responding to your audience as quickly as possible a non-negotiable best practice. Providing immediate response is also essential to strengthen your relationship with your customers, build trust, and ultimately boost your sales.
Whether it’s a comment, review, or direct message, your customers’ social media actions toward your brand need acknowledgment. Much like in an in-person conversation, not recognizing what the other person said means ignoring the one talking. You need to answer every complaint because leaving a customer unanswered means one less buyer in the future.
An exception would be in the event of a mass issue. You can post a general alert to give the affected parties updates more efficiently. The size of your company may also affect this practice. But in general, small businesses need to reply to everything to build their online following.
The problem with communicating through social media is that you can’t easily read the mood of the person on the other end. Some think that social media is less formal compared to other support channels because the community is commonly seen as friendly. However, that’s not always the case. Additionally, platforms with a character limit, like Twitter, can make it more challenging.
It all boils down to who your audience is, and the circumstance at hand. Aside from reading the situation better, adjust your tone to match the customers.
Asking your customer to instead email or send a message privately when they clearly want to make their concern public (perhaps, through a comment on a post) can be viewed as disrespectful. Meet them where they are and address their needs where they originally communicated it.
Even when you have to accommodate concerns publicly, other customers usually see it as being professional and end up admiring your willingness to help. If you want to discuss matters privately, see to it that you have already resolved the issue on the channel where it was initially brought up.
If the situation calls for it, follow up with the complainant to check if the issue has been resolved. Doing so will help them see that you care about their concern and that you are willing to help if they are encountering additional issues.
To follow up on your customers’ complaints, you will need to go back to when the concern was first brought up. This can be challenging as the complaint may have been buried in your inbox or under a handful of other comments. Using social media management tools such as Hootsuite and Brandwatch can help you keep track of your social media interactions so you can review which ones require a follow-up.
Speaking of social media marketing tools, social listening tools like Mention will help you discover questions, comments, and complaints about your business so you can respond to them on time. You can also use these to find brand mentions that can help you improve your social support.
For instance, if you see that you’re getting the same questions from different users, you can create a way for your answer to be more apparent to all users. You can compile these questions into an FAQ sheet and pin it on your social media page.
Online platforms such as social media channels have given consumers the power to share their experiences with a brand, whether it’s a good one or a bad one. While it is done primarily to inform other consumers of what they can expect from a business, it can also serve as a way for the company to engage with their audience and humanize their customers’ experience with them.
These best practices are just the tip of the iceberg—as technology advances, you will surely find more ways to make your social media support work for your business.
For instance, getting social media support outsourcing services from a reliable partner like SuperStaff can help you improve your business’s social support. SuperStaff is your partner in offering the best customer support that will help make your brand relevant in the digital community to attract more loyal consumers and grow your bottom line. Contact us today.
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