Best Practices for Customer Service on Social Media

Two out of every three consumers use social media to get their problems solved. How are you managing customer service on social media?

Leveraging social media is one of the most important parts of running just about any modern business, including subscription businesses. Some business turn their social media pages into their main store fronts, pushing their marketing efforts in the direction of their social pages to capture an audience that will continue to get their updates after “following” or “liking” their page.

With such an emphasis on socializing with your customers, you’ll notice that there is a trend by customers to post their comments, questions, and concerns to your social pages. For example, you might find comments like these appear on your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, or under Instagram posts:

  • Just signed up! So excited! When does the first box ship?
  • Got my tracking information but it doesn’t show updates. Is anyone else experiencing this?
  • My box just arrived broken : ( I don’t know what to do!

These are just a few examples, and questions and comments will vary widely throughout the month. Whatever the topic, though, the main takeaway is the same: You need to be diligent with customer service over social media. Your customers are looking for help! 

In fact, according to JD Power & Associates, 67% of consumers have used social media sites for servicing by customers. Despite the importance, many business owners take a lackadaisical approach to managing customer service on these forums, leading to frustrated customers and a bad public image. Take a moment to reflect: How are you managing customer service on social media channels? 

Let’s take a look at a few of the core best practices you should follow when thinking about servicing customers on these external channels.

1. Be Prompt. Very Prompt.

Posting replies quickly is one of the most important elements to managing customer service. While a customer may expect a slower response time over email, social media is different, and the bar is often a lot higher. Nearly half of those complaining online expect a reply in under an hour. And while the other half report that they expect to wait longer period, this data signals a big opportunity by you as a company to exceed expectations.

Don’t let the prospect of refreshing your Facebook worry you, though. Inherently, you’re going to have far fewer customer support requests appear on social media than in your inbox each day. This means it’s won’t be as time consuming as it is attention consuming. Make sure someone is actively monitoring your social channels throughout the day, and arm them with good prompts and best practices (like standardized replies and good direction).

2. Provide Answers but Don’t Overload

While I’ve come across advice that suggests fully “solving” every request on social media, I suggest the opposite: provide simple, quick answers to questions, but if it requires a long, detailed reply (or personal information), direct that customer to email or call directly. This helps keep your time spent replying to requests down while also showing that your company does respond promptly to requests, but customer service should be directed over the proper channels. Committing to full scale customer service on social media, in my opinion, can take away from brand image in that it distracts the real point of your social media profiles, which is to market and hold your brand in a perfect light.

3. Double Check for Existing Requests

The first step you (or your staff) should take is always quickly referring to records before replying to a request. Performing a search of your requests can help you better answer the question and determine if it was already solved, saving you time and mental energy. This also shows an internal competency on your part. (Just keep in mind that usernames on social media don’t always match those used in email!)

4. Integrate with a Customer Service Platform

It’s also suggested that you choose your customer service platform – for example, a service like Zendesk – partly based on their ability to integrate with social media channels. For example, by connecting your accounts, you can have your messages and comments automatically filtered into your customer support platform. From there, you can assign them to specific agents or leverage the use of macros and automations to speed up replies.

Create a Social Media Game Plan

With these few best practices in mind, step back and create a game plan for your own business’ customer support strategies on social media. Remember to emphasize fast reply times, quick and accurate (but not unwieldy) answers, and to make sure you’re using your existing infrastructure to your advantage (looking up requests and using integrations). Now go help those customers!

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About Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson is an author, educator and co-founder of several successful subscription businesses. He focuses on building engaging communities and has been described as "insanely customer centric." Find him in the Subscription School group or at his blog.

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