Over the past few weeks I have been working on a new Mashable article and putting together my deck for Social Media Strategies Summit – Las Vegas. Through the process I’ve done a lot of research which keeps landing me on various customer service articles. There are so many brands using social media in creative and successful ways when it comes to customer service. Today I will share my Top Ten social media customer service tips to help your organization craft a powerful customer service presence using social media:
If your organization is actively using Twitter it can be difficult to read through each and every tweet. However, you don’t want to miss an important customer service issue so try creating a hashtag (#) to help sift through your customer service tweets. The hashtag can be as simple as #customerservice or you can personalize it #customerserviceGSMI then all you have to do is create a search and you will have all customer service related tweets in one place. If you are going to do this consider using your Twitter background to encourage tweeters to use the hashtag and send out tweets reminding your followers to use your customer service hashtag
2- Provide Hours of Operation
Social sites like Twitter are up and running 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This means your customers can tweet or post questions, concerns, grievances and compliments around the clock. Many will be expecting some type of response no matter what day or hour it may be. Unless a company has endless resources it will be impossible to keep up with your customer service in real-time. A good way to address this is to set expectations by posting your social hours of operation.
Comcast does a great job at this by dedicating a large portion of their Twitter background to listing hours of support and other ways to contact Comcast if help is needed. If you can man Twitter 24/7 then list that as well but be ready to respond to tweets around the clock.
3- Make it Personal
Zappos does this beautifully with @Zappos_Cares. Not only do they have a dedicated Twitter account for customer service they show you pictures and names for all those manning social customer service. Taking it a step further they announce who is manning Twitter customer service at any given time. When someone signs off they announce it and let followers know who will be taking over. This creates relationships, trust and some serious brand loyalty.
4- Educate Customer Service Team
In order to have the best customer service on social media those manning the tweets and Facebook comments must have all the information and empowerment to answer questions quickly, clearly and concisely. In addition to understanding the products, services and how to handle a complaint customer service teams should be trained to do all these things using social platforms.
5- Create a FAQ Section
Boingo and Dunkin’ Donuts have both done this very well. Not only do they both have common questions in there FAQ but they update often and make sure when there are any significant changes or issues the FAQ reflects that. If you find the same questions being asked on a regular basis be sure to add them to your FAQ and direct people to find the answer on your website or blog, wherever you house your FAQ’s
6- Do Not Delete
As tempting as it may be to delete negative feedback, hard hitting questions and misinformation don’t do it! Instead, answer the question in the same format as it was asked, tweet it, post a comment etc…. Be sure to answer professionally as the world can see. Stella & Dot is sure to answer all questions posted on their Facebook Page quickly, completely and without fail:
7- Do Not Ignore
There are far too many examples of customer service gone wrong via social sites. One of my favorites is Spirit Airlines. You can visit their Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis for fresh examples of what not to do. Just now I took the following screen shot:
As you can see there are a variety of negative comments and complaints over a significant period of time yet Spirit Airlines has not addressed a single one. Here is a screen shot, taken moments after the above one, of Spirit Airlines Twitter Page
Instead of responding to these serious accusations and complaints Spirit Airlines is just pushing out promotional messages.
8- Schedule Q&A Parties
This is a fun way to let your customers know you care and will surely increase engagement on whatever platform you host the Q&A on. Several brands have done this with huge success. If you are able to get the CEO, CMO or other top executive to answer some of the questions your participation will be even larger.
9- Make it Easy
When all is said and done make it easy for people to ask their questions and find answers. Provide your customer service phone number, email address and hours of operation. Let people know you are ready, willing and able to answer questions and respond to complaints. And when you do respond be sure its in a way that will be well received. If one person has a question or complaint you can be sure they are not the only one. By answering in a clear and concise manner you will be answering many customers questions.
10- Keep it Up
Customer service is an ongoing process. It may seem daunting but it is an essential part of building a strong and successful social media process. Whatever you do don’t give up!