Long wait times, grating hold music, and huge phone bills are a thing of the past. These days, consumers expect brands to provide support on their favorite social platforms.
More than that, 40% of shoppers expect brands to reply within an hour on social media, and 79% expect a response within 24 hours. People who use social media want customer service at their fingertips and they want it instantly. And the benefits of providing good customer service are worth it. Expect increased brand loyalty, happier customers, and more revenue.
In this post, you’ll learn what social media customer service involves and how you can create a social customer service strategy that works for you.
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What is social media customer service?
Social media customer service is the process of providing support and live chat customer service on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It allows brands to respond to customer service requests, customer issues, feedback, and complaints in minutes, without the need for lengthy calls.
Today, all major social platforms have built-in features that help brands find customer messages and provide guidance. Doing this not only provides in-the-moment support, but can lead to increased loyalty, better brand awareness, and more revenue.
Social customer service is ecommerce
Pair shoppers’ sky-high expectations with the sheer amount of market competition and it’s clear good ecommerce customer service isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.
Providing support via popular social media channels helps you remove friction from the buying process by responding with real-time answers. This might mean providing extra product information and answering hesitations in the pre-purchase phase, following up on orders and deliveries post-purchase, or responding to customer feedback on products or service.
Benefits of social media customer service
The level of customer service you provide can have a dramatic impact on your business. A great experience can turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers, while a bad experience can lead to a loss of sales, bad press, and unhappy shoppers.
Here are some benefits of social media customer service:
- Influence purchasing decisions: 50% of shoppers say getting a quick response from the customer service team influences their decision to buy.
- Increase revenue: Shoppers spend 20% to 40% more with brands that respond quickly to questions and complaints on social media, and 59% are willing to pay a premium to get “outstanding” customer service.
- Provide multiple communication options: People don’t want to spend hours in a hold queue. Instead, 40% of shoppers say that multiple communication options are the most important customer service feature a brand can have.
- Boost brand loyalty: 77% of consumers say that a good customer service experience is critical to earning their brand loyalty.
Social media customer service strategy
Now that you know how important social media customer service is for your business, here’s how you can implement it on your social media channels and how to improve customer service overall.
1. Choose the right channels
Start by finding the social platforms your audience uses the most. If shoppers are most active on Instagram but you’re only checking posts on Twitter, you’re going to miss a ton of customer service requests. In fact, 40% of consumers expect brands to problem-solve on their favorite channels. For most brands, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the top players, but you might also find that customers reach out on LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest too.
TIP: Find out where your customers are already hanging out by searching social media for likes, tags, and mentions of your brand. You can also use a dedicated social listening tool to track every mention of your brand and see where you get the most customer service questions.
2. Use a dedicated support account
Sixty-four percent of Twitter users say they would rather message a dedicated support handle than get on the phone. While small brands can get away with one handle on each platform, bigger merchants might find they benefit from a dedicated support account. This also makes it easier for you to find relevant customer questions amongst all the noise and brand mentions.
TIP: Assign a dedicated handle to your customer service team who is better equipped to deal with customer service questions than your marketing team. If a customer reaches out to your main handle, encourage your marketing team to redirect them to the dedicated support account.
3. Set expectations early
You can’t be everywhere at once. Let customers know when they’re likely to receive a response from you by sharing your customer support operating hours and average reply time in the bio of your dedicated support account.
TIP: Make use of support-focused social media features, like Facebook’s Instant Replies tool and Twitter’s Quick Replies feature, that let you send a canned response ASAP. Include your reply times and operating hours in your canned message.
4. Create a brand voice
Maintain a cohesive voice across all your social media channels by designing a brand voice. This helps your customer service team stay on-brand and ensure you’re creating a consistent social media presence.
TIP: Put together a brand voice document that outlines what your customer service team can and can’t say, words they can use, and specific occasions where they’re allowed to use humor or a more informal tone.
5. Mirror customer emotions
Responding to customer support enquiries on social media isn’t the same as sharing your average social post. Often, shoppers will be angry, upset, or frustrated, which requires a certain amount of tact in your responses. The last thing you want to do is annoy a customer further by taking their complaint lightly.
TIP: Take the customer’s lead. If they have a serious problem, avoid minimizing their frustration and limit your use of emojis. Similarly, if a shopper has a trivial question or includes a joke in their initial communication, reflect that in your responses. This will also help your team improve their customer service skills.
6. Find the balance between private and public
One key difference between social customer service and traditional customer service is that social media is very public. Everyone can see your responses, which is why it’s critical to decide when to take your conversation to the DM (direct message). Not everything can be resolved in a single message and certainly not within the character limit that some social platforms are limited to.
TIP: Take conversations that require a lot of back-and-forths or that include sensitive personal information to the customer’s DMs or find another way to communicate, like phone or email.
7. Get ahead of common questions
You’ll probably find you get a lot of similar questions. When this happens, it’s a sign you may need to provide additional information on your site or throughout the buying journey.
TIP: Create a resource center or an FAQ page where you can answer the most common questions. Alternatively, build a library of templated answers that your customer service team can send to customers quickly.
8. Turn negative feedback into a good customer experience
Thirty-three percent of customers use social media channels to air their complaints to brands. While it might feel like negative feedback is damaging your brand image, it can actually do the opposite if you handle it in the right way. Instead of ignoring complaints or getting defensive, use feedback as an opportunity to create a connection with shoppers and show you’re willing to help.
TIP: Respond to every complaint—even those that haven’t been sent to you directly. You can also loop back to unhappy customers later down the line to find out how they’re getting on and if their issue has been resolved.
Social media customer service tools
If you have a limited budget or if your social accounts are low on engagement, you’ll probably be able to manage replies directly in each social account, at least at first. If you grow your brand’s social following, however, support requests will grow with it, and a tool built for handling support will become essential for staying on top of things.
Fortunately, the popularity of social media means there are many tools out there that vary widely in features and price. To help you get a lay of the land, here are a few social media monitoring tools worth checking out.
Hootsuite integrates with more than 25 social networks, and the dashboard is highly customizable. It also allows you to view incoming messages and reply within the dashboard.
Sprout Social is built to help you manage your social profiles through data collection. It creates a single stream of incoming messages from your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger accounts that you can see in one place.
Facebook’s in-built Away Messaging feature lets you send an automated response to customers when your customer service reps are offline.
Mention lets you monitor conversations around your brand and listen to your audience. It brings all mentions into one centralized dashboard for easy viewing.
Social media customer service examples
Here’s how brands are using social media for customer service.
Pet food brand Chewy is a pioneer of excellent customer service. As well as responding to every negative and positive social media comment, it also takes the time to create personalized pet portraits for customers who have reached out.
When it comes to negative feedback, the brand is quick to respond and provides a number of ways for customers to reach out for more information.
Bedsheet brand Brooklinen is hot on its Twitter customer support. The customer service reps respond almost instantly and quickly decide whether a query requires a more in-depth response via DM.
@brooklinen I have never bought bed sheets that wore out and ripped until I bought Brooklinen's linen sheet set. I emailed them a few times and chatted with a rep. who assured me s.o. would contact me. Never heard from anyone. Buyer beware!— Marilyn G. (@helpmetalkright) April 28, 2023
Image caption: Brooklinen responds to an unhappy customer on Twitter.
Image alt text: Screenshot of a Twitter conversation between bed sheet brand Brooklinen and an unhappy customer.
But Brooklinen doesn’t just respond to complaints and questions. The brand also takes the time to reply to positive mentions in a conversational tone.
Sock retailer Bombas uses Facebook to respond to unhappy customers. It diligently replies to every bit of feedback—-both good and bad—and often directs shoppers to reach out via DM for a private conversation.
Bombas responds to an unhappy customer on Facebook.
Bombas also takes the opportunity to turn positive brand mentions into something more. It often posts about stock levels and upcoming product launches.
Bombas mentions stock levels of a high-demand collection.
Take your social customer service to the next level
Customer service is changing. Shoppers today expect brands to be on their favorite platforms and respond in hours if not minutes. Take your customer support to the next level by monitoring brand mentions, answering common questions, and reaching out to customers as soon as they have a problem.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to deftly handle the occasional heckler and put on a great show.
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Social media customer service FAQ
What is social customer service?
How do you provide good customer service on social media?
- Show up on the channels your customers are using.
- Use a dedicated support account to separate customer service conversations from your main handle.
- Set expectations around reply times and operating hours.
- Mirror customer emotions in your customer support responses.
- Find the balance between public and private responses.
- Get ahead of common questions with a resource center or templated responses.
- Turn negative feedback into a positive customer experience.