A few years ago, when someone experienced poor customer support, they would tell their friends and family. With the advent of social media, a customer can post about their experience, good or bad, and potentially thousands of people know about it. It is common for customers to take to social media for customer success. Because of the public nature of social media, customers are certain that the company will respond or at least acknowledge their issue.
Companies would do well to be active on social media and pay attention to customer success. The alternative to a company being responsive is a tarnished reputation in the market. In this article, we look at seven key do’s and don’ts when delivering customer service through social media.
Do’s in social media-based customer support
- Build a social media presence – A social media presence refers to more than just a Facebook or Twitter account. Being on social media means that a company can interact with customers the way they interact with each other. The Internet comes with a certain lingo. Customer service executives can be trained to get familiar with this voice to reach customers better. Customer service executives should also be familiar with the brand voice to be able to tailor it to the world of social media.
- Speedy response – When customers reach out for support on social media, very often they have exhausted all other routes. They are frustrated, and they expect a quick reply, or they will very easily call the company out for its poor customer support on social media. Keeping customer success in mind, the company should respond within a day, at the most. If a quick resolution is not possible, acknowledge the customer’s post and either redirect them or promise to get back to them. When a customer is redirected, the channel should be one that will most certainly assist in sorting out the issue rather than an illogical automated message.
- Monitor – Social media should be monitored by customer support staff for any mentions of the company on or off the official social media page. A string of unattended comments or support requests does not portray the company’s customer support in a good light to other potential customers. Any spam or abusive messages should be promptly removed. Posts or comments that address the company directly or indirectly provide the opportunity to reach out to customers and reinforce the brand image.
- Engage offline – An initial response via social media is essential but resolution of the issue should be steered away from social media to a more private channel. This will ensure social media customer support is still dealt with in a manner akin to a ticket raising system. Further, it shows respect for the customer and their issue or case history can be discussed with them out of the public eye.
Don’ts in social media-based customer support
- Don’t lose composure – Many times customer support staff has let their emotions get in the way of solving the issue at hand. However, when executives lose their temper they portray the business in a negative light. A customer who perceives they have been treated badly by a company can very easily take a screenshot of the interaction and post it to social media for the world to see. Customer support staff are humans too, and they often have to deal with very difficult customers. They must be trained to stay focused on the problem at hand, irrespective of the executive’s opinion, or how irrationally the customer behaves.
- Don’t ignore or repeat – No matter how angry, erratic or rude a customer is, customer support staff should never ignore a request. A customer’s negative feedback on social media may be unpleasant, but the effects can be amplified when a business fails to respond. Customers also dislike scripted responses that appear to have been provided by bots to a series of unique problems. Just like ignoring a request, repetitiveness and canned responses by a company on social media are perceived negatively by customers. The readiness to respond represents a chance to tactfully turn around the interaction. Well-trained customer support staff may be able to placate the customer and offer them speedy resolution.
- Don’t be too casual – Social media may have a casual demeanour, but customers still expect a standard of customer support, even when they approach through social media. Shortforms, emojis and slang in a customer support interaction should be avoided as far as possible. Customer support staff can still speak in the dialogue of social media without detracting from their commitment to resolve the issue at hand. Issue resolution should be the priority of the customer support staff, followed by dialogue and reinforcing the brand image of the company.
The rules to social media-based helpdesk are simple but need to be monitored constantly. Social media offers an opportunity to engage with customers. However, social media has emerged as a channel for customer support – whether companies know it or not. It will continue to be a channel for customer support – whether companies mobilize it or not.