The beginner’s guide to social media customer service

The beginner’s guide to social media customer service

Ishita Bagchi

Ishita Bagchi

Published on

11 minute read

As of 2021, there were over 4.26 billion social media users worldwide which are projected to increase to close to six billion in 2027, according to Statista. Imagine the number of customers you can reach out to through social media customer service.

Here are some more figures. Within 15 minutes, 59% of brands respond to user Tweets. When businesses don't have a separate Twitter account for customer service, this figure falls to 30%.

That’s how impactful social media interactions are. Let us understand what it means.

Defining social media customer service

Offering assistance to your customers through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. is social media customer service.

It includes assistance before, during, and after the sale. It also includes handling grievances, offering advice, responding to inquiries, or giving refunds. In a way, social media customer service helps make brands more relatable to customers.

Through social media customer service, brands can keep customer satisfaction high, improve their retention rates, and potentially drive sales by engaging potential customers.

More than 60% of customers believe that resolving a problem quickly is the most crucial aspect of good customer support. On social media, the consumer, not the company, has the most influence over a brand's reputation.

Ignoring conversations on these platforms can have a negative impact on your business. For instance, according to some studies, ignoring a social media complaint from a customer reduces that person's loyalty by 50%.

Understanding the pros

Social media is a cost-effective way for customer service.

It is easy and free to be on social media. The only investment you need to make is time.

You can make a customer support group on Facebook or a Help Center account on Twitter and offer help to your customers without any investment.

Social media customer support can be a great tool for expanding your user base and gaining more followers who can be your potential customers in the future. Thus, social media customer almost always guarantees the expansion of the customer base cost-effectively.

Social media makes proactive customer support easier.

Social media makes it easier to get in touch with clients who mention your brand, whether the conversation is positive or negative. Whenever someone mentions your brand on social media, you can reach out to them even if they haven’t asked for help.

This is a good way to build connections. Customers feel you care about them and are always ready to help them even before they ask you.

For instance, once a customer complained on Twitter about being unable to get Starbucks coffee because the airport was too small. So, JetBlue Airlines got a Starbucks coffee delivered to the customer’s seat without the customer asking for it directly from the airline.

Social media presence helps develop positive brand perceptions.

Social media has given businesses a way to communicate with appropriate audiences at appropriate times.

Using social media also helps to make your brand more relatable to your customers. When people are interested in your content, it can increase traffic, sales, and even long-term loyalty.

southwest airlines example

For instance, SouthWest airlines took customer complaints seriously and responded to them to assure the customer. The customer, in a tweet, had expressed shock at finding no WiFi on their 3+ hour flight. Southwest Airlines assured the customer that they would soon be able to board a plane with WiFi.

Tip – When dealing with customer complaints, the conversation style can have a significant impact.

Being polite, empathetic, and patient is extremely necessary when dealing with frustrated customers. Each social interaction that Southwest Airlines has is nuanced and truthful. Every tweet is written as if the author and reader were talking face-to-face.

Social media makes it easier to offer omnichannel customer service.

An omnichannel customer support integrated with social media can make it simple for customer service representatives to comprehend the issue. This can also help you to respond to such posts proactively and help the customer feel assured.

Consider a customer who complains on social media about the poor quality of the product or service she received. If the customer's social media handle is integrated into the omnichannel, you can proactively review the post, respond via Direct Message on Facebook, Twitter, etc., or even place an outbound call.

Taking note of the cons

Not everyone might be comfortable with social media.

Despite social media's expanding use, some customers might still favour sticking with conventional customer service procedures. They might not use social media at all.

Only 23% of adults, according to Pew Research Center research, use Twitter. Older generations may find it challenging to use social media platforms or may simply be uninterested in social media in general.

You risk losing attention to those who are not online by using social media as a customer service method. Hence, you must offer different types of customer service channels and pay attention to all the channels.

Social media makes it easier to express outrage.

An individual is likelier to say something hurtful online than in person because they have the shield of a computer screen and are equipped with a keyboard. This implies that if something goes wrong, customers are likely to vent on one or more social media platforms.

The best a brand can do is shift the conversation to a private message, determine the cause of the issue, demonstrate empathy, and provide a straightforward solution.

Social media can sometimes be restrictive.

In comparison to conventional customer service delivery, it can occasionally be challenging to provide adequate assistance on a social platform.

For instance, Twitter is a fantastic platform for personalised communication, but posts are only allowed to be 140 characters long. It may be difficult to address a customer's concern in a few concise sentences.

In this situation, response time speed and assistance quality must be traded off. Issues that need a more detailed solution should be forwarded to another platform.

You might also think about transferring the conversation to an email thread or a call. This enables you to maintain the element of personalisation while providing a more thorough response.

Tools to ace your social media customer service

TweetDeck

The social media dashboard tool TweetDeck is used to manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule tweets, and manage multiple conversations. In essence, TweetDeck lets you create "columns" that are filled with the queries you need to be tracking.

These columns update in real-time and can span much wider than the width of your browser because they are side by side.

You can check if there are common customer service issues related to your products. In this manner, you can also create resources to address the most common issues.

You can also schedule tweets and Twitter campaigns to address any issue before customers reach out to you.

Chatwoot

You can use Chatwoot to manage your conversations across all platforms through a single screen.

Popular customer communication channels like email, website live chat, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram can all be connected to Chatwoot.

For eg. you can interact on both Twitter threads and private DMs through the Chatwoot dashboard. All your messages from these social media platforms can be integrated into a single dashboard through which you can reply and manage.

This will help you to manage your conversations on these platforms easily. By using a single dashboard, you can deliver consistent omnichannel support and improve customer experience across all channels.

Hootsuite

You can find conversations that need a service response with the assistance of Hootsuite. In Hootsuite, you can use boards and streams to keep an eye on conversations about your brand across various social media platforms.

Then, even if you are not tagged, you can respond to support requests immediately. To make it easier for brands to navigate the Hootsuite platform and make the best use of it, Hootsuite also has resources.

Brands can go through these resources and understand how to use the tool to achieve maximum outcomes.

Automat

Automat is an app that builds intelligent social direct messaging bots using conversational artificial intelligence. Automat bots can transfer a conversation to a live customer service representative when necessary.

By asking questions, considering customer needs, and making product suggestions, Automat enables businesses to offer customers personalised shopping experiences that boost sales.

This makes it easier for brands to offer more personalised suggestions for their social media user base.


Tips to get social media customer service right

Identify which platforms your target audience uses the most.

Offering customer service through platforms that your customers use the most is crucial. Your support staff should be accessible on the social platforms that your customers or target audience prefer for engagement.

Look for likes, tags, and mentions of your brand on social media to understand where your customers are. Use the search functions on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to conduct manual searches.

However, you should think about investing in a social media monitoring tool if you want to have a detailed picture of what clients are saying about your business online. These platforms track every online mention of your brand using algorithms to keep you informed.

Keep track of what your customers are saying about you.

After figuring out what social media platforms your customers are most active on, you should keep tracking what your customers are saying about you. This will help you to quickly and effectively connect with customers whenever they raise an issue or leave feedback on your social media platforms.

You can also schedule tweets on Twitter using tools like TweetDeck based on what your customers are talking about or anything that is trending related to your brand.

Setting up monitoring mechanisms to track comments, tags, mentions, and replies on social media ensures timely responses to such comments and replies. This shows that you care about your customers’ feedback, creating a positive brand image.

Create an online community for your customers.

You can use social media platforms also to create a customer-driven online community. This community can become a knowledge base for resources related to your brand and products that customers can have open access to.

For instance, you can create a Facebook group for your customers. They can ask each other questions, share their opinions about your brand and products, and exchange solutions to various issues they might face.

Customers can also offer different perspectives than customer service agents. This means the group can become a knowledge base offering different solutions to the same issue.

Canva, for instance, has a group on Facebook where all their users can be a part of and exchange information with each other. This makes it easier for the customer service agents, as well as they will have lesser queries to take care of.

Have a social media profile dedicated to customer support.

If you find yourself responding to a lot of customer inquiries on social media, you can set up a channel on a social media platform that is solely for customer support.

Make sure your other social media profiles direct customers needing assistance to the support profile for quicker assistance. This could be an efficient way to separate customer service requests from other marketing efforts.

For Eg. Adobe has a separate Twitter account called AdobeCare which is solely dedicated for helping customers and answering their queries.

adobecare twitter handle

You can also create personalised interactions by making sure that tweets, posts, and direct messages are signed with the name of the team member who will be responding to customer messages.

If the client needs to follow up, this will be helpful to them. This also promotes more fruitful interactions.

Adopt Social listening.

One of the most underrated and possibly most effective features of social media today is proactive listening.

Social media listening aims to examine the brand conversations in your sector and use the results to make more informed and better business decisions.

It is beneficial to comprehend the context in which these discussions take place, the factors driving the conversations, and the participants' attitudes toward your brand.

Make sure you are available on your social media platforms.

Customer service cannot be provided by simply creating an account or a FAQ template. You must continue to use those channels if you want to be accessible to your customers.

Customers need to feel like you care about them, especially when they're upset.

After having more than one unfavourable experience, about 80% of customers say they would do business with a rival. Simply be accessible to your customers if you don't want to disappoint them.

Automating responses or using tools to flag brand mentions are good places to start. To assist you with automation, you can use tools like Chatwoot, LiveChat, etc. Customers may feel you are always available to them with the help of these tools.

Related read: You can check out this article for more tips on customer service.

Examples to draw inspiration from

Wix

Wix, a popular website builder platform with 200 million users worldwide, offers top-notch customer service. As a company specialising in helping customers build their websites from scratch, you can imagine the volume of questions Wix might get everyday.

They want to give their users the best support possible. Wix launched a Twitter account called Wix Help specifically for responding to customer service queries.

screenshot of wix twitter help account

Ignoring a customer's question on social media is not ideal. A customer might have a specific query about one of your subscription plans, for instance.

The people in charge of monitoring the channel or your social media team might not know how to respond. Directing the client in the right direction is crucial. For instance, the Wix team included a direct email for contacting their Billing team for additional support in the tweet mentioned above.

Spotify

Spotify is one of the top brands revolutionising the way we listen to music.

They excel at what they do, and their customers appreciate their support. They even received a Webby Award for customer service on social media.

spotify example of twitter support

Customers who get in touch with them via their dedicated Twitter account @SpotifyCares, as in this tweet above, frequently receive a specially chosen song that fits the situation.

Numerous brands cannot use their products on other platforms, particularly social media. But Spotify has found the perfect sweet spot to utilise social media platforms to their benefit.

Now imagine this.

Your Twitter account receives a specific question from a customer, but the solution is unknown to you. Then you ping ten coworkers from five different teams. The time is running out, and you still await a response after 20 minutes.

A knowledge base would be useful in this situation. A library with current information about your goods or services can come in handy.

In the tweet mentioned above, Spotify created an article in its knowledge base titled "Why can't I find the music I'm looking for?.”

This is because Spotify, a business with millions of users, most likely hears this question frequently.

P.S You can read about more such inspiring customer service stories here.

Samsung

It all began with a straightforward Facebook message sent to Samsung's Canadian Facebook page by a devoted fan. "I just wanted to know if I could get a Galaxy S3 for free?" enquired Shane.

Shane Bennett, a devoted Samsung user, requested a free sample of the company's most recent, soon-to-be-released phone. He also added a drawing of a roaring dragon to enhance his offer.

Samsung responded with an unsurprising "no". But as a thank-you gift, they sent him a drawing of a kangaroo riding a unicycle.

After sharing both messages and the illustrations on Reddit, they quickly gained popularity. In response, Samsung Canada sent him the phone he requested, embellished with his illustration of a fire-breathing dragon.

samsung example

TechCrunch

To conclude…

Social media makes things simple for both your customers and agents. Customers are likely to stay for the quality of service if they see your efforts on social media. These clients will grow to be your biggest cheer leaders persuading others to make comparable purchases.


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