The way you choose to interact with your customers online can really set the tone for your business. If you’re responsive, engaging, and present a positive image for your company, people are more likely to interact with you and spread the word.
On the other hand, if you’re quick to pick fights with customers who complain or you’re not willing to listen to constructive criticism, you might find yourself in hot water faster than you ever thought possible–social media lets information travel far faster than word of mouth alone, and the effects last a long time. It’s really difficult to clean up a tarnished image in the digital age!
This is why your social media platforms need to be regularly maintained and easily accessible to your customers. Let them feel comfortable reaching out to you via social media. When you do communicate with your customers, be polite and understanding. Providing great customer service should be your #1 priority on social media–just as it should be elsewhere.
Companies that rock customer service via social media: JetBlue and Seamless
If you need a little bit of guidance in getting started, check out the customer service that JetBlue provides over Twitter. They engage with their customers in a timely and positive manner. And the don’t just interact with the customers who are happy–instead, they take the time to find the people who are talking about their company negatively, and they do their best to remedy the situation. That’s going above and beyond for their customers, and it has netted the airline a great reputation for customer service.
Seamless, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach: They’re available 24 hours a day to help you with any troubles you might have, from a late order to a technical glitch on their website. No matter what problem you’re facing, you can tweet Seamless and they’ll get someone to help you ASAP.
How can you emulate JetBlue’s practice as a small business?
First monitor social media channels for mention of your brand’s name. When you see people talking about you, make sure you engage with them: If they’re saying something positive, retweet them or “like” their post. Leave an encouraging comment thanking them for taking the time to share their thoughts. If they’re saying something negative, put on your best happy face and try to find out why they’re disappointed. If you can remedy the situation, others will see that you care–and they’ll be more likely to remember you positively!
How can you emulate Seamless’s approach as a small business?
Obviously most small businesses can’t have someone there to help customers 24 hours a day. But what you can do is make sure that a dedicated team has access to the social media accounts. Does your webmaster run the technical side of things while you man the helm? Make sure he or she can deliver timely news to you about any website errors or downtime; or, alternatively, allow him or her to have access to the accounts to let customers and fans know for you. Make sure you respond to questions as soon as you have the chance, and your customers will thank you for it. (Customers expect a fairly fast response time–the average Twitter response time is 5.1 hours, with 10% of companies answering within an hour, and 93% of companies answering within 48 hours.)
Run a medium-sized company? Take cues from Nike and Blizzard Entertainment.
If you get fairly high traffic on your company website or on your social media pages, you might want to try creating a separate handle for your customer service. You can see how Nike does it here–look at the number of tweets that have come from that account! However, with a team dedicated to providing customer service managing this account, you can bet that anyone who needs help can get it faster than if they were to call. It’s also a great option for your customers who can’t speak and/or hear–there are TTY phones that Deaf and hard-of-hearing customers can use, but many would prefer to bypass that and use social media.
Blizzard Entertainment also takes this approach. Whenever servers are down, a website glitch pops up, or a game is getting a new patch, @BlizzardCS tweets about it. Players can also tweet at this account to report bugs or to let the team know of server issues. people have even reported in-game harassment here. By providing an account separate from their main game accounts, they’ve created a dedicated space to better assist customers without any game promotions or advertisements between tweets.
How can you make a dedicated customer service account work for you?
If you have the budget and resources to pull this off, go ahead and make a separate account. Hire a dedicated team to manage the account, and make sure they’re trained with customer service and dispute management. Make sure that they understand your company’s voice and your brand image. Finally, put a fail-safe in place: Allow them to direct the customers to a phone or a separate email if the situation is too complicated to deal with via text.
Tips for Excelling at Customer Service via Social Media
- Have a priority list. Respond to things like technical issues or direct complaints first, and general comments (complaints or praise) last.
- Set a goal for a response time–and track your success rate.
- Are there questions you get more often than others? If so, you might want to consider an FAQ page on your website or putting together a guide covering the basics of your products and services.
- Consider where your customers are. Most of our examples are from Twitter, but if most of your customers are on Facebook, implement your customer service strategy there.
- Know when to take your issues away from social media. As mentioned above, there always needs to be a fail-safe. Not all customers can be appeased via social media. Make sure there’s a way for them to contact you with the method they prefer.
- Monitor conversations about your brand and try to reply and remedy any complaints, even if they’re not directly tweeted/messaged to you.
- Finally, keep your cool under all circumstances. Never, EVER respond when you’re angry. Step away from the computer if you’re about to tweet something angry. Even if this slows down your response time, it’s better to reply when you’re able to do so professionally–in a way that won’t damage your brand.
Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.