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An Effective How-to Guide for Social Media Customer Service

April 21, 2022 • 8 minute read

Your brand is already a step in the right direction if you are aiming at using social media customer service. In this era of agile digital transformation and continuous innovation, the expectations of a customer from a brand are limitless. They presume that you are omnipresent and are observing all their actions.

Today, customer support has to be ubiquitous and it is easily possible with conversational AI. As social media evolves, apart from building a strong business presence, brands need to come up with a strategy to have conversations often related to customer support.

To put up a fine preface, we have covered what is social media customer service, why is it important for businesses today, the benefits of using it and the best strategies that can be applied during the first stages of social media customer support. By the end of this article, you will be able to derive a social media strategy for your business.

What is social media customer service?

Social media customer service is the execution of all customer support operations and activities over social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube. 

The blend of customer support and social media is the need of the hour. Businesses wanting to provide their customers with the best of service and experience are moving towards social media. This is because of the popularity of the platforms and the speed of interaction between businesses and customers.

Apart from the fact that social media has over 3.78 billion social media users worldwide, there are certainly other benefits of using social media over traditional customer service channels such as emails or calls. 

How is social media customer service different from traditional customer service?

The difference between social media and traditional customer service channels like emails and calls is crucial for understanding the importance of social media. 

Social Media Customer Service

Traditional Customer Service

Social media channels are voices for brands. Their marketing and support strategies are publicly visible. With a good customer support strategy over social media, customers can easily understand your brand’s voice and character.

Traditionally, customer service happened over emails and phone calls where the conversations were one-to-one. Customer support would not have any impact on the brand’s personality.

Social media is a platform for short and sweet conversations. Brands have the freedom to be quirky and creative with their replies. Due to this, customers feel more connected with businesses.

Over emails and phone calls, conversations are more formal and functional. There is no space for informal conversations. Businesses are not able to make interpersonal connections over formal channels.

The average response time over social media is much shorter (within minutes) when compared with emails or phone calls.

Wait time of 24-48 hours is expected by customers for solving their queries over emails or IVR.

Why is social media customer service important for your business?

According to Forrester, one-third of Americans have used social media to complain about a brand or its customer service. 

Customer service on social media can help your brand achieve a competitive advantage. With support so strong and engaging, brands can win the hearts of their customers. Today, it is very important for businesses to build a strategy for solving customer queries over social media.  

1. Improved brand integrity

Prospects and existing customers are noticing you over social media. You can change their perspective as well as your brand’s trustworthiness over social media.

By making your social media handles a positive and healthy place for customers, you can observe a surge in results of all your marketing activities as well as sales. This is because customers would have 100% trust in your brand and they would know, even if anything goes sideways, that your brand has a good reputation for customer service.

2. Better reach through social media

Gen Z loves social media for all their requirements, be it personal or professional. They are constantly checking brands’ social handles and making their buying decisions. With such popularity, social media platforms are not optional anymore. Businesses away from social media are giving an easy win to their competitors.

Moreover, the user base of different social channels is constantly increasing. The platforms are being used by all their customers constantly, every single day. What are you waiting for? It is the perfect place to support your already existing customers and nourish new leads.

Usage of social media

3. Great impact on customer satisfaction

With immediate and personalized attention to customers over platforms that they love, companies are leaving no good reason for customers to dislike them. 

With social media customer service, brands can leave their customers completely satisfied and happy. Globally, 54% of respondents had a more favorable view of brands that responded to customer service questions or complaints on social media.

4. Economical customer support

Handling a customer service request is 12 times cheaper than handling the same over the phone. 

What can probably be a reason to not move to social media customer service over any other type that your business might currently be using? It is any day better for all kinds of customer support requests. It is definitely important for you to move to social media and move now.

10 suggestions for social media customer service

Now that we’ve given you enough reasons to move to social media customer support, let us dig deeper into the best strategies that your business can adopt in order to use social media in the best possible way.

1. Use social media listening and monitoring

This is the most important feature that can get you real reviews about your business and its services. Use different social monitoring tools and understand what people are saying about your brand over different social media platforms.

Keeping an eye on all the comments, tags, mentions, and even places where customers don’t tag you can provide you with discrete insights that can be extremely beneficial for your business. 

2. Streamline the process of customer support 

Just like any other medium, social media customer support needs to have a defined process for customer query resolution. Customers must not feel ghosted or lost when they reach out to you over social media.

Some companies have created an altogether separate page for customer support (for example, Microsoft has a support page on Twitter @MicrosoftHelps). Even if you do not want a separate handle (because it is too much to handle), you can have a systematic and automated approach to handle all customer queries over your business page.

An example of social media customer support on Twitter

3. Respond timely

Social media platforms are known for immediate and personalized responses. Your brand needs to be fast with responses and must ensure that the query is resolved in a timely manner.

To do so, almost all social media platforms have a response automation mechanism. Some platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram also have a solution for deploying conversational AI. It can help businesses provide intelligent responses to their customers instantly.

How to calculate average response time on social media

4. Analyze and metricize conversations

Social media platforms provide deep insights into the conversations that happen over the platforms. Metrics such as average response time, session duration, agent calls, and many more can be understood on the insight dashboard.

With actionable insights, businesses can draw necessary conclusions and change strategies as per the information. The aim should be to create a positive environment for the customers to easily come and address their concerns. In case of any backlash, businesses need to have a complete community management strategy.

5. Empathize and respond accordingly

The highest form of knowledge is empathy. A brand would be loved if it empathizes with its customers. Instead of taking all conversations to DMs or defending your brand, you must first get into the shoes of your customers.

Greet your customers and tell them that you understand the issues they are facing. This will reassure them that your business is there for the customers and they will feel positive about your strategies.

6. Build community guidelines for social media

A business must have community guidelines to handle a backfire (if any) that may occur due to any of your marketing efforts or any other reasons. For example, when Nestle’s Maggi faced a backlash due to some misinformation about its product, the way it was handled on social media was as per its community guidelines.

Community guidelines include information about how would the brand handle negative comments, who would be called in the emergency meeting to discuss such comments and a reply template that will roll out on every social media platform.

Community building for social media customer service

7. Adhere to your brand’s personality on social media

While providing customer support, keep in mind your brand’s personality and stick to it. The colors, types of designs and tone of the content must not be different from that used by your brand for sales and marketing purposes.

This will increase the brand recall value and create a distinct image in the minds of customers.

8. Monitor customer behavior even if they don’t tag you

A keen interest in what your customers are talking about you will take you to the pinnacles of success. Monitoring consumer behavior and understanding what are they expecting from the brand can help you provide the best customer experience.

With social media monitoring tools, you can get information about brand mentions even if the customers do not tag you or ping you directly. You will have a clear knowledge of how many customers are facing any issue and talking negatively about your brand, and how many customers are happy and are recommending your products or services to their followers.

9. Take a channel-wise approach

With multiple social media channels, the approach for social media customer support differs. For example, Twitter has a character limit for each tweet. Every channel needs to have a different approach to handling requests.

For Facebook, a business can set the available times and automate replies. While for Twitter, businesses need to turn on the direct message function. Automation on WhatsApp and Instagram is also possible. However, automation will not complete the job of a customer support executive, rather it would just help the person by sending faster replies.

10. Build a strong presence on social media

Your brand must be visible to all your customers. As and when you start social media customer service, make sure your customers notice you and reach out to you on social channels.

With a strong social media presence and a well-planned customer support strategy, you can take over your competitors. The above-mentioned points are the basic requirements when beginning with social media customer service. Following all of these strategies is recommended.

Things not to do on social media platforms for customer service

There are certain things that are a strict no-no on social media platforms and your businesses must follow them to get the maximum results.

Things not to do for social media customer service

1. Do not ignore your customers

Responding to messages, tweets, brand mentions or comments is a good practice. If you ghost your customers and ignore their messages, you can hurt your reputation and brand value. 

You need to address the concerns of your customers because social media is a public platform where everyone is seeing you.

2. Do not delete backlash comments or posts by the customers

Negative comments or posts need to be addressed with utter care and compliance with the customers. Deleting the comments and messages won’t help anyone.

Businesses must respond to negative comments in a way that their customers feel heard and valued. By doing this, businesses can not just overcome the backlash, but also become customers’ favorites.

3. Do not provide justifications

Providing justifications can be a little too naive for a brand. Even if a customer complaint is not valid or the customer is at fault, brands need to handle the requests with sophistication.

Over social media, brands can work with messages like “Hey Paul, we’ll surely look into this issue but it would be great if you can try logging in to your dashboard and finding the insights” or “Thanks for letting us know a fault on our platform, but we can see that you do not have access to this particular information. For more details, please connect with us over DM”.

4. Do not respond with too much information

Too much information can overwhelm your customers, especially if it is technical for a non-technical person. While responding, keep in mind that your customers are just newbies to your product or service. 

Even if there is some information that needs to be delivered, take the request to personal messages and give a detailed explanation about the situation.

5. In case of mass backlash, do not respond to every customer

During a sudden outrage about an issue or a worldwide backfire, do not try to respond to each and every comment, mention or message. Instead, make a post covering the issue and its details addressing all the customers.

This message must be framed such that it does not hamper your brand value and also ensures your customers with confidence that the issue will be resolved. 

FAQs related to social media customer service

After understanding the dos and don'ts of social media customer service, we suppose you might have some questions. We are trying to address the frequently asked questions so that you solve your doubts and start today.

1. Do I need a dedicated team for social media customer service?

It is not at all necessary. If your brand has an already established customer support team, they can easily handle social media along with the other platforms.

Even if you do not have a support team, you can handle social media in a way that you are handling your support phone calls and emails.

2. Do I need separate pages for customer support on social media?

It is completely up to you. If you are getting too many support requests or you do not want to clutter your main business page, you can create a separate page. Or else, you can easily continue providing support on your business page.

3. Do I need separate tools for automating social media customer service?

You might need some tools to help you with social media monitoring and listening. Apart from that, if you want to automate your responses with conversational AI, you can directly contact Yellow.ai.

Conclusion

You are now absolutely ready to excel in social media customer service. We hope all the information provided in this article proves to be helpful and assists you in building a strong strategy for social media customer support.

For any assistance related to conversational AI, feel free to request a demo with Yellow.ai and we would be happy to help.

Namrata Narsinghani

Content Writer at Yellow.ai, comes with a zeal to write content that educates audiences, creates brand awareness, and ranks on SERP. A digital marketing enthusiast, she loves to learn all new trends in the industry. Apart from work, she loves to swim, read, and travel.

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