Excellent suggestions from Parature on the five best practices for managing social media as a customer service channel:
- Focus service efforts. Prioritize social customer service delivery to your most active social channels and use marketing to train consumers to reach out on these channels. Customers would still prefer the customer service information on your website and then talk to a real person if they don’t find what they need. I’ve found that Verizon does a good job of providing both, as well as online chat.
- Showcase a social customer service center. Have integrated live chat, help desk ticketing, a searchable knowledgebase of the company’s website. This encourages customers to submit problems to the support center rather than posting issues directly on the brand’s Facebook or Twitter wall.
- Listen carefully. First and foremost a disgruntled customer wants to be heard. Second, they want to know how you are going to solve their problem. Prepare and empower your CSRs to resolve a customer’s concern on the first call. This will increase customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of service since every escalation of a service call essentially doubles the cost of the resolution. Oh, best sure and tell the customer “thank you” for sharing their concern with you. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t know it was a problem you need to resolve and hopefully prevent for future customers.
- Get to know your social audience. Determine whether your social media audience are followers, customers, industry influencers, competitors or individuals with a large social following that could potential help or hurt your brand’s reputation. Personalization is a key service differentiator, especially for the social customer.
- Learn social media’s rules of engagement. Consumers feel overwhelmed by promotional brand messages on social media. Social customers want honest and real conversations with the brands they follow. They prefer a human voice over promotional auto-posts or replies copied and pasted from policy manuals. I’ve had this issue with Amazon in the past; however, based on their stellar customer service rankings, it appears they have improved.
Based on the 2011 CMO Council Study, the majority of social customers expect a reply from a brand within 24 hours after they post, comment or tweet. More than 25% expect a reply within an hour.
A best practice is to publish a timeframe for social customer service or an after hours message.
I handle all of the customer service responses for our small manufacturing firm. I know the faster I respond to a question or a concern, the more surprised and satisfied the customer or prospect.
What are your experiences, good or bad, with customer service via social media?