The way people communicate has evolved dramatically with the Internet. No longer can businesses conduct customer support solely through traditional channels like email or telephone calls – they must utilize channels where customers find convenience.
When it comes to social media, the popularity stems from its always-on and lighting-fast characteristics. When you connect with customers through social media, you receive countless benefits. You also have the opportunity to impress customers, exceed expectations, retain existing customers, bring back the ones you may have lost, and attract new ones.
So, let’s take a look at how you can provide exceptional customer service through social media to accomplish this and more.
Choose the Right Platform
Knowing which social media platform your customers use is paramount to providing great customer service. As they tend to use platforms that fit their lifestyles, finding the right network becomes the tricky part.
The first thing you should do is identify your target audience. Understand who they are, then develop a complete picture of what they want. Your customer profile should help you understand, for example, if your main audience is young professionals or stay-at-home moms. You then take the profile you’ve built to understand where your customers are engaging. Professionals may be on LinkedIn, but stay-at-home moms may be more prevalent on Pinterest.
If you lack the information needed to deduce what social network to use, then simply ask your customers directly. They will often be happy to tell you if they use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or another platform.
Another way you can discern if your customers use a given platform is to simply search it in order to see how often your business (or the competition for that matter) is mentioned. The more prevalent the mentions, the more likely it is that your customers use that very platform.
The important part isn’t how you find your audience; it’s that you do find them at all. A study by Bain & Company has found that customers who communicate with companies via social media spend 20 to 40 percent more money than other customers. As it seems, it is a good enough reason to use social media for customer service.
Listen and Act
The next step is to listen to your customers. This will help you decide on how to interact with them.
Set up an automated means to search for mentions of your brand or business. You can use social media monitoring tools like Social Mention and Mention to do this. Collect and analyze the activity of your customers. This will help you differentiate among notices of frustration stemming from poor customer service, positive and negative feedback, simple questions to answer, technical questions, and other types of mentions.
You will also learn what mentions require a response, and what time of day your customers are the most active. These factors will form a solid foundation for providing customer support.
If you find it necessary, you can even open a separate social media profile for support inquiries. For instance, KLM Airlines launched a 24/7 customer support group on LinkedIn, and they netted a great deal of success from doing so.
Be Available and Consistent
Social media tends to be a fast-paced method of communication. The Social Habit conducted a survey that found customers expected a response through social media within 30 to 60 minutes. That’s why a quick response is vital to superb customer service through social media – it’s a live feed.
When you can’t solve the issue of a customer in an expedient way, promise to do so. You then have enough time to follow through, which greatly extends the window of time you have for solving problems.
You may wish to create a boilerplate acknowledgment statement. This will enable you create a message that successfully assures your customers that you’re aware of the problem and actively looking for a solution.
Remember to send a reply through the same channel that was used to receive your customer’s message. Other customers may see the reply, which makes it more effective.
Consistency and activity are two things that you should maintain on your chosen social media platforms. You’ll cultivate more relationships with your customers while making your business seem more reliable.
Convey the Right Tone
Conveying the right tone is extremely important when it comes to using social media. You don’t want to accidentally send the wrong message despite using the right words, as you may offend a broad group of people. Adjust to the tone of your customers to make your messages successful.
Learn to interpret their cues. If your customer uses emoticons, then you may wish to use them in your reply. If they use all capital letters or exclamation marks, then your customers may be showing frustration.
Respond appropriately to ensure your messages stay clear and personalized. This shows your customers that you care, which is the ultimate goal of providing exceptional customer service.
If you want to make the experience more personalized, consider having your representatives introduce themselves as people rather than the company. This creates a more personal and successful experience.
By regularly monitoring and using social media, you will provide great service to your customers. You will make them feel important and exceed their expectations significantly, keeping existing customers more engaged and attracting new ones more easily.
Leverage everything to your advantage – from major problems and complaints to simple everyday remarks. Always try to give your customers more than what they ask for. This will make your company stand out.
The golden rule of customer service is to always engage your customers, and social media is a great way to start. It’s not only a perfect tool for reaching a wider audience, but it also provides you with a great opportunity to give your customers quick and proactive responses. Using social media is thereby one of the best decisions your business can make in order to provide exceptional customer service.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Natalie Smith is a Seattle-based freelance writer and copywriter who enjoys covering topics related to the emerging trends in the business world. When she’s not earning a living, she enjoys a good book or a good beating at the kickboxing gym. Connect with @natalies1014 on Twitter.