In a contact center, a lot of time is spent perfecting the art of serving a customer’s needs during a phone call. What do we say? How do we say it? When do we say it? When do we transfer? When can we handle the situation ourselves? In other words—how can we provide great customer service on the phone?
When it comes to serving customers through social media, the way that a customer’s needs are met during an interaction is just as important to your contact center’s performance. Because of the public nature of social media, these interactions can often have the most impact on public perception of your company.
So how can you make sure that the customers who contact you via social media are just as satisfied as the ones who call in? Here are 5 tips for providing great customer service on social media.
Unless you have staff tweeting and answering Facebook comments around the clock, let customers know every morning that you’ll be available to answer tweets and comments until 5 pm (or whenever you stop for the day). Then at 5 pm, send a sign-off tweet, letting people know what time you’ll be back the next day. This will prevent someone from trying to reach you at odd hours and then getting upset when no one responds immediately.
When someone reaches out via social media, it’s important that your first reply come publicly so that others can see that you are responding, and how you plan to handle the issue. But after that initial contact, it’s necessary to point customers to a private encounter, whether via email, direct messages, or a phone call, to get into the details of their needs. Remember to be careful with the wording of your response: If you don’t phrase it just right, what could have been a friendly invitation to continue the discussion in private can sound like you’re trying to silence a customer.
Customers with complaints or issues do not like being on the receiving end of a generic response, as it will come off as impersonal and dismissive. Therefore take the time to personalize your responses to customers on social media. Include names and, especially if you’ve repeatedly given this answer to other customers, change the wording of your note a bit each time. It’ll make your company seem more human as well as show customers that you care enough to take the time to answer each concern individually.
With such a public medium, it’s understandable to want to check every single response before it gets published. But response time is critical, and if customer service representatives are slowed down by having to wait for approval, it can spell disaster in the viral world of social media. Train employees using hypothetical situations and past issues so that they are fully equipped to handle customers quickly themselves. You can also prepare them with a decision tree that will help them determine what action to take for various situations (Such as respond, delete, or ignore).
While social media may seem vastly different from the traditional world of phone calls, every customer interaction should be handled in the same way regardless of medium. Courtesy, respect, and prompt customer service should be the hallmarks of every single interaction between your employees and your customers. Because it is difficult to read emotions online, remember to move the conversation to the phone as soon as possible (email is second best). Now that you can hear them and pick up on tone of voice, you are able to handle the situation more appropriately.
For your staff that responds to social media inquiries, it is crucial that they are familiar with the, for lack of a better word, “territory” that is social media. They should be familiar with slang, jargon, and Internet speak enough to understand what a customer is trying to ask or say. Your representatives should also be familiar with Internet trolls, or individuals who purposely make crude, hateful, and/or off-taste comments in order to elicit a response (backlash, frustration, pain, and/or sadness). How your representatives handle these situations will reflect upon your business’s reputation, so be sure to train them to respond appropriately.
To some, social media is a new frontier, The Wild Wild West of the communication industry. These tips will help make you and your team savvier at handling customer service requests on social media while positively affecting your brand. Happy tweeting!