Customer service is an important part of any business, no matter how small or large you are. Even if it’s just you and two employees in your business, you still need to have some form of customer service. Without it, there’s little chance your business will succeed.
Social media has opened up all sorts of new opportunities for businesses—there’s new platforms for ads, for content marketing, and for building your brand. Social media is also an excellent platform for customer service opportunities.
The “transparent” affect Facebook gives businesses can make a huge dent when it comes to customer service. Your interactions (especially on behalf of customer service) are automatically made public and come across as unscripted on social media—even if you’re still following all the regulations and policies your customer service department maintains.
To excel with customer service on Facebook (and other similar social media platforms like Twitter), here’s what you need to do…
1. Reply Promptly
By promptly, I mean as fast as you possibly can without having a message full of typos or confusing phrases.
Responding in a time-efficient manner is one of the biggies when it comes to customer service on social media. Customers are used to waiting on hold for twenty minutes with bad music in the background when they call (this is, of course, after wading through the automated phone director that can’t understand what you’re saying). They expect promptness, however, on social media, if not immediacy.
It can be overwhelming, but try to reply to your customers within 24 hours if possible, even if you’re just briefly thanking them for a kind comment. The more negative the comment or review, though, the higher priority it should be given. Complaints or angry customers should get your attention first, with questions about product information should come immediately after.
Ideally, you (or a staff member) will be able to check the Facebook at least every morning and evening. I believe all businesses would benefit from making it a priority to check it at least daily to monitor activity and see what customer concerns or comments need addressing.
2. Allow Reviews—and Respond to Them
Open up the option for customers to leave reviews on Facebook.
You do have to be careful with this—angry customers are going to be more likely to go around complaining than happy customers are to say that they’re happy.
In addition to getting some great feedback unfiltered constructive criticism, you’ll look good for allowing negative reviews and responding to them. You’ll also get brownie points for responding to the positive reviews, showing that you’re invested in and grateful for your customers, willing to put in the work even when you don’t have to.
If you want to enable users to publish reviews on your Page, you can see step-by-step instructions here.
3. Don’t Ignore the Negative
This goes for reviews, too, which we’ve touched on a bit already.
No matter how fantastic your business is, it’s inevitable that someone, somewhere will have an experience with your business go wayside (or at least perceive to have this negative experience). And what do people with negative experiences do? They complain—vocally, and to anyone who will listen, if they’re mad enough. Social media, frankly, is the most vocal and public place to leave this negative remarks.
Think of all your irritated customers as Bruce Banner, who just needs one little thing to turn into the Hulk—especially with the whole world being online, they can do just as much damage.
This goes back to responding promptly—the sooner you can get to the negative comments or reviews, the better. Not only can you hopefully address the solution and handle the issue responsibly, you may even be able to head off what could otherwise be a full-on explosion from the customer across multiple social media platforms.
4. Show Your Fans You Appreciate Them
Your fans don’t owe you anything. They’ve likely already bought from you, or are interested in doing so, if they’re following you on Facebook, so they’ve already helped you. Even if you’ve got a few of those famous nightmare customers lumped in there, showing that you appreciate each and every one of those customers will do wonders for your reputation, and your customer service initiatives.
Some businesses frequently offer loyalty rewards for customers, such as Facebook-only discounts or coupons, contests only fans can enter, or sales they only promote through Facebook. Sometimes, though, even a genuine post thanking fans for being loyal customers and for following you on Facebook can go a long way.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Take it Off Facebook
Some initial concerns, questions, or complaints can be addressed and resolved directly on Facebook. A simple question of “When will this be back in stock” can be given a simple answer of “September 15th! You can add your name to a waiting list at www.madeupwaitinglist.com.”
Other customer concerns, however, require more complex interaction to resolve. When this is the case, don’t worry about moving the conversation off of Facebook—after you’ve addressed the issue publicly so that everyone else knows that you’re handling the situation, too. For complex issues, moving things off Facebook is the best way to resolve the problem for the customer in a way that works for you both.
When a customer needs more help than you can give them on Facebook (or publicly), leave a response on their comment or review to show that you’re going to help them, and ask them to contact you via a specified phone number, e-mail address, or even through Facebook’s private message.
Even negative customer reviews don’t necessarily have to have publicized solutions, so long as other customers see that you’re willing and eager to find a solution.
6. Know Who’s in Charge
Are you handling your business’s social media account? One of your staff members? An outsourced social media expert? Or maybe a combination of all of the above?
Whoever you choose to manage your social media accounts, there should be one clear person in charge, and everyone should know exactly what their specific tasks and responsibilities are if you have multiple people managing your Page.
Too often with multiple people handling a Page will we see things slip between the cracks, whether because things get missed, someone doesn’t realize something falls within their responsibility, or everyone is hoping someone else handles the hard stuff.
Knowing who’s in charge—and what everyone else is supposed to do—and having a policy and process for handling customer service issues will help streamline the process and keep everything moving smoothly and efficiently.
7. Really Listen to the Feedback
Your customers may not realize that you’re doing this initially, but when you’re not only solving their problems and instead are actually receiving and listening to their feedback, it will greatly impact your customers service, your reputation, and your business.
Think about it. You want to sell your product or service to these specific customers, so who better is there to give you feedback or input about what it is that they want and expect from you? While some feedback can be trite, and some demands unrealistic, if similar complaints keep popping up, it’s time to hone in on them and really pay attention.
Collecting feedback from clients, considering it, and potentially even acting on it can help you boost your business further. Businesses are often willing to spend a ton of money to get this kind of feedback from customers; with social media, you’re getting it for free, so you may as well take advantage of it.
While you’re at it, it never hurts to let customers know when you’re implementing their feedback, even if it’s a few months later.
Facebook, and even Twitter, are both excellent platforms that can be used as a new interface for customer service. With the immediacy of the interaction, the ease for users to interact with you (no waiting on hold for twenty minutes or going through a frustrating automated answering system), and the hopefully honest, transparent, and genuine nature of the interaction, you have the potential to make huge changes and your business and your reputation with your customers.
What do you think about Facebook’s role as a customer service platform? Do you use other social media sites to handle customer services issues? What are some of your favorite tips? Leave a comment and let us know!