When your customers want to reach you, where do they go? Chances are, they head to your social media accounts. While phone and email are still critical support channels, it’s no surprise that nearly 70 percent of consumers have used social media for customer service on at least one occasion: why would they spend 10 minutes listening to hold music when they can just send a quick tweet to get what they need and be on their merry way?

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other channel, your customers want to reach you there, so it’s important to treat social media support requests as an integral part of your customer service program. Here are six practical ways you can listen thoughtfully, address concerns, and learn from customer feedback on social media.

Monitor your mentions

The first step to offering great social media support is actively listening for mentions of your brand. There are a range of social media monitoring tools (some of them free!) like Keyhole, Hootsuite, Buzzsumo, and Digimind that you can use to track discussion of your brand on social media. These tools can notify you whenever your brand name is mentioned, so you can catch chatter that’s related to you, even if you’re not tagged in it. Don’t forget to monitor phrases related to your products or promotions, plus any hidden mentions, such as misspellings of your brand name.

Meet your customers where they are

When your customers contact you on social media, it’s important that you give an initial response over that same channel. For example, if your customers ask a question on Facebook, they don’t want an email or phone call in response — they’re expecting you to reply directly on Facebook. Doing so helps you keep the flow of the conversation and maintain accountability for every message you receive.

If your customer’s question involves something personal, or if you think you can answer better over an email or phone call, let them know you want to transition to another medium, and assure them that you’ll take care of the issue there. Try sending something like this: “Thanks for your question. Can you direct message us your email so I can send you some resources that will help with this issue?”

Sending this type of response benefits you in two ways: your customer will know to check their email for your reply, and the rest of the social media world can see that you cared and responded.

Respond quickly with reusable responses

Social media moves fast, so customers expect a quick reply. A study by Twitter revealed that 71 percent of Twitter users expect a brand to respond within an hour. Keeping up with customer posts and tweets might feel overwhelming, but your social media monitoring tool gives you a head start. Another helpful strategy to respond faster is to write reusable messages for each social channel to answer frequently asked questions. Organize these responses so your whole team can easily search, copy and paste, and tweak them later.

Building out these commonly asked social responses helps make sure every customer service rep on your team uses messaging that’s consistent with your brand. As a bonus, an organized reusable message library can double as a great example and teaching tool for new or less experienced employees.

Reply to every post

It can be challenging to keep up with an endless flurry of comments and mentions, and it’s easy to let some fall off your radar. But when you brush off a question or comment you receive on social media, you’re ignoring your customer.

Ignoring customers online has its consequences. According to one digital engagement service, 88 percent of customers are less likely to purchase from a company that ignores customer questions on social media. So, take the time to acknowledge every comment with an authentic reply. Check out how customer service reps at Zapposreply to every comment and sign off with their initials to make it feel more human

Track your trends

Look for trends in your customers’ social requests and in your team’s performance, like response times, mention frequency, and commenting times. When you have insights into these broader trends around your social media support, you can make proactive changes to avoid complaints in the future and set goals for your team to aim for.

Use a social media listening system like Brandwatch and Buffer to get insights on trends around your brand, and try a social media customer service software like Frontto get analytics for performance metrics for your team. Try tracking metrics like these:

  • Individual response time
  • Team average response time
  • Busiest time of day
  • Busiest day of the week

Answer with empathy

Like all customer service, social media support requires empathy. Reading customers’ messages closely will help you understand their feelings and determine what tone to reply in. Generally, you’ll want to match your tone to the customer’s. For example, if they send you something quippy, you want to respond with a similar clever kindness. However, a frustrated-sounding tweet about a late delivery merits an equally serious reply. When your company is at fault, write a response that takes ownership of the issue.

To make sure social media comments are handled with empathy, provide your team with a guide for giving great support. Include instructions on how to write in your brand’s voice and tone, examples of what to say and what not to say, and best practices that are specific to each channel.

Providing a great customer experience across multiple channels like email, social media, and phone can feel daunting, but by bringing all your communications channels together and giving your team the tools they need to reply, you’ll be able to satisfy all your customers, wherever they are.

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