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How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

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Customer service has changed dramatically with the evolution of social media. Instead of writing a letter or calling a company to lodge a complaint, customers can now send a disgruntled tweet or post a bad experience on Facebook. This has become second nature and it is important for businesses to have a dedicated person who handles their customer service across all the social media platforms.

Why Does Customer Service Matter on Social Media?

If you think you are doing a great job of handling your social media customer service, the bad news is you are probably not. Customers want and expect great customer service, but not many companies are delivering on it. According to a survey done by HelpScout, 80% of companies believe they are delivering "superior" customer service, while only 8% of customers think the same company is delivering "superior" service. With this in mind, you can see that there is a big opportunity for your company to stand out and really impress the customer. And conversely, your competition could cash in if you don't. Here are some numbers to paint a picture of how huge the opportunities are for great customer service:

-43% of consumers say that getting a direct response to their questions is most important on a social media site, while 86% want to hear from a company regarding a complaint.

-31% of consumers expect the social media site to have direct access to a representative or product expert.

-Only 36% of consumers that make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.

-Customers that feel as though the company has engaged and responded to their customer service requests end up spending 20%-40% more with the company.

-Those who had a positive experience with social care were 71% more likely to recommend the brand to others, compared to only 19% of those who didn't receive a response.

We know that just one bad interaction can wipe out even more of the good ones. Here are some tips to keep your customers happy and coming back:

-The number one thing that customers want is a fast response. Edison's study found that 42% of consumers want a response within one hour, while 32% believe it should be 30 minutes. Their study also revealed that it is more important to social media customers that you deliver a fast response than the fact that you are correct. This doesn't mean you can have representatives of your brand rushing to give useless answers but it does show that speed is an important factor.

-Receiving complaints can seem like a chore especially when they come in frequently. It is important to address any problems before they escalate. Acknowledge the complaint and apologize when appropriate. If it is necessary to take the next step, take it sooner than later.

-You can't predict each and every problem that might arise but creating a basic template can make customer service easier. Any new issues that arise need to have a formal process for escalation, especially if you have multiple representatives interacting with customers.

-Having a tone of voice is important in the customer service arena of social media. You don't want to appear like a robot but you do want to stick to the same brand guidelines you have already set up. You want to change up your generic replies whenever you can, while keeping your voice consistent.

-Making sure you know everything that is being said about your business or brand on social media is crucial. You can find out what issues there are and chime in when necessary. There are a few really good social media monitoring tools out there such as Google Alerts, Talkwalker and Topsy. You should also be monitoring your platforms multiple times a day. If it is not possible to have someone managing your social media platforms 24/7 then you should be watching the news and Twitter feeds to hone in on any potential problems. Your surrounding community is a valuable resource when it comes to monitoring social media chatter too.

-When scheduling an announcement post or tweet, be sure that you aren't interrupting a complaint. A flippant post could make your fans mad and make it appear as though you don't care about their complaints.

The bottom line is that social media is not just a means to market your product. Customers expect more and they will reward the brands that engage and wow them by going the extra mile with their customer service.

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