6 must-follow rules for using social media in customer service

It is a well-known fact that if a customer has a negative experience with a service or brand, they are more likely to share it than one that is satisfied. Sharing experiences is now an everyday task to many with the birth of the social web where everyone is a public journalist.

That said, anyone can post anything at any time to their favourite social media channel for the world to see. With the fast digital landscape we are busy moving in; your reputation can be made or broken within 140 characters (Twitter) or less.

A few years ago, an unhappy customer may only have written a letter and told a few friends about their experience. Now, thanks to the internet, there are thousands of ways of sharing these experiences in public places.

What are the implications of this? It simply means that you and your business must be prepared to respond to customers and prospects when they mention your name or business on their favourite social media channels such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Here are a couple off tips that can help you start focusing on using social media for customer service.

1. Start with listening
As with most social media marketing campaigns, start with listening for mentions of your company name, products, key employees, brands, and even competitors. If you are using social media monitoring platforms such as Brandseye or Radian 6, respond to the mentions that you receive. You can also listen to understand what your competitors are doing and the problems they are experiencing.

2. Create a customer service profile
With most of the social media channels being free, create a dedicated social profile or fan page for customer service. Your interaction with your profile will all depend on your prospects and what you are offering. On your blog and website you can announce that you have setup a dedicated profile where your customers can direct their queries to.

Promote and let people know what you are doing with your owned media and internal communications. Research and create content that you can use on the social web around the types of problems customers have. Exactly the same as you would include your website contact details on products, why don’t you include your customer service Twitter handle?

3. Train your customer service staff
Make sure that you train your staff properly on how to respond to inquiries on the social web. Social media knowledge will be required so training should be given to the representatives that have the appropriate knowledge, experience and skills on the social media channels you are using. This person should also have a clear understanding of your business to redirect queries to the relevant department. Create an escalation procedure that this person can use to help them with social media customer service.

4. Respond to inquiries
Customers can get an email within a few hours as well as a representative on the phone. Ignoring customer requests and inquiries on the social web doesn’t make the problems go away, rather it will most likely get your customers upset on a social media platform that has thousands of eyeballs.

5. Follow up on inquiries
Responding to any inquiries you receive via the social web should always be the starting point of following up. It is very important to resolve any issues to keep your customers happy. This can encourage them to buy from your business again.

6. Measuring your social media effectiveness
As with any online campaign, it is crucial to set up metrics to measure your progress with social media customer service. You can also set up goals that you would like to achieve with your new initiative.

Using social media for customer service is still new, but you have to remember that your customers will try to contact you if you have a dedicated channel for customer services.

Anton Koekemoer


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