Gone are the days when people used to rely on word-of-mouth feedback. If you want to purchase an electronic device, you would ask your colleague, friend, or anyone else you know. But now, social media has totally changed the ball game. It is not just limited to feedback or references but social media customer service is yet another evolution in the field of new business.
Any company that wants to maintain a good reputation must have a flawless customer service. And when it gets public, it becomes even more crucial to respond to the customers with a high level of precision.
On social media, your servicing etiquettes are visible to a wider audience. Your reputation is at stake when you are resolving a query of a customer. Hence, you have to be very careful about doing this job in public.
But there are many ways you can leverage social media too towards your business growth. Let’s explore a few of them here.
Importance of social media in customer service
Social media can bring immense benefits to your business. Few of them are:
- Brand engagement
- Additional channel to serve customers
- Gain insights on industry trends
Social Media has become so handy these days that the customers may as well raise a complaint on it rather than using your support process. This provides them with an ease to interact with your brand.
And when your staff responds to them, it drives brand engagement. This brings a positive effect on building loyalty for your customers. When they hold a conversation with your brand on social channels, it bolsters your image as a socially conscious brand. This is pertinent in fostering an emotional connection with them. You can also employ social media tools to stay on top of social engagement, which will eventually lead to increased brand exposure and engagement.
Through a social media customer service plan, you can strategize your marketing efforts too. When customers talk about particular problems, your solutions are a kind of advertisement for your product. Think about it. While giving solutions, you discuss the features and functionalities of your product.
Anyone tracing all the comments would definitely keep basic knowledge of your niche. And when they read your solutions, they get to know your product better.
The readers of your social media responses can vary from a beginner to a potential qualified lead of your product.
The more channels you provide to your customer, the better engagement you drive from them. All the different social media platforms cater to different customer segments. Through LinkedIn, you would be serving in professional networks. Through Facebook, it would be their personal network. Through Instagram, you cater to a younger audience.
With the rising trend in social media usage, I wouldn’t be surprised if in future the whole of customer support shifts down to these platforms. To get the most visibility on social media, it’s best to use social media management tools.
Gain industry insights
By following a hashtag, you can monitor all the posts people have shared about a topic in your business domain. And when you research a wide range of topics, you can discover the industry trend through those posts.
This is essential if you want to keep a check on the pulse of your industry. No other platform would give you live updates about customer’s challenges, opinions, and feedback than social media.
How social media customer service can harm your business?
Social Media is a sea of opportunities while at the same time it can also sabotage your business. You have to be very careful when deciding to use this as a channel for customer service. Few ways it can harm you are:
- Widest reach
- Threat of losing to Competitors
- Complex management
Once a thread is opened in social media, it remains there for almost forever. This gets too risky if someone opens a thread with a bad experience they had. Even after 10 years, people could discover that thread and that can potentially cause harm to your reputation.
There’s no other channel that can reach millions of users in a split second than social media. Negative comments would travel at the speed of light and reach the eyes of millions of users in a second. This is quite a dangerous situation to find oneself in.
When you expose your customer base socially, your competitors can easily use it to their benefit. They can lure your customers quite easily by pitching them specifically on the pain-point they highlight on social media.
Another way they can benefit from your social presence is by doing social research on your customer’s profile. This can help them create targeted marketing campaigns that can be quite harmful to your business.
Social media customer service is all over the place. There are so many platforms. So many threads along with thousands of comments. After one point of time, it becomes too complex and laborious to manage the whole social presence even with software.
Social media customer service best practices
As you can see, there are both positive and negative effects of a social media customer service strategy on your business. But if you follow the right practices and ingrain the right values in your staff, it can turn out to be a powerful tool to grow your business.
Keep a positive sentiment
There are chances you face a dissatisfied customer in an attacking mode. No matter how low they get, always maintain a positive tone in your response. This is the chance for you to reflect your customer-centric culture. Through your response, show them how much you care and empathize with their problem.
Unlike your company’s dedicated support process, social media is all online and live. This means you cannot keep a ticket unresolved for long for it will only spoil your image. Every ticket is a ticking time-bomb. Hence, respond immediately to solve the issue and close it as soon as possible.
Redirect to offline at the right time
While serving in public, you must have a sound judgement of when to direct the conversation offline. You may not want to disclose your product special features to your competitors who are watching you viciously. But before taking it offline, make sure to leave a comment in public to let others know about that.24
Quantifying social media impact is difficult but surely it is bigger than any other marketing channel. Customer service in social media is another form of marketing. Your marketing collaterals here are the responses to your customers. Hence, make sure you deploy the best resources to handle this process. In a way, they become the voice of your brand. They have the power to totally change the perception of an audience – for better or worse.
Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.
Published September 18, 2020, Updated March 01, 2023