Although social media can be used to augment a business’s customer service policy and practice, not everyone has adopted a social customer service program. Sure, many larger companies understand and benefit from social media customer service management tools and techniques. Companies such as Marks and Spencer and Pizza Hut dedicate huge amounts of resources to ensure they instantly respond to customer complaints, queries, and mentions

However, many smaller organizations are yet to catch up.

Some of these organizations may be put off by the amount of effort and work they believe conducting good social media customer service requires. While many small businesses do not have the resources to hire a full time social media administrator (or indeed a team of them), they can still use social platforms to bolster their customer service levels.

And they should. Here’s why.

According to helpscout.net:

  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
  • It is six-seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one.
  • Three out of five Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.
  • Seventy percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
  • Ninety-one percent of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with a company that has upset them.
  • Sixty-seven percent of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration that they are unable to speak to a real person.
  • On average, a loyal customer is worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

Done correctly, social media can help small businesses:

  • Quickly resolve issues – The instantaneous nature of social media means that, often, it is the quickest way to resolve any issues.
  • Make a personal connection – Social media customer service is one of the best ways to connect people with your brand on an emotional level.
  • Gain a better understanding of their customers – By analyzing their communications with clients, businesses can use social media customer service data to inform subsequent business decisions and practices.
  • Improve their brand – By resolving customer problems and responding to customer messages quickly and appropriately, businesses can significantly improve their brand’s reputation.

Smaller businesses looking to improve their customer service with social media are likely to be most successful if they use a social media marketing tool. Such tools often come fully equipped with the features and functionalities required to conduct effective social service. Not only that, the best tools employ automation, synchronization, and aggregation to make managing customer service over different social platforms as easy as possible.

Before I list some of my favorite tools for managing social media customer service, I first want to run through some best practice tips for anyone looking to implement good social media customer service.

1. Avoid the Streisand Effect

The Streisand effect, which takes its name from Barbara Streisand, refers to a phenomenon that frequently occurs when an individual or organization attempts to suppress information. The result of the attempted suppression is, ironically, to unintentionally publicize the sensitive information to a far greater degree than would have otherwise occurred.

Streisand, still perhaps the most famous victim of the Streisand effect, attempted to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu and inadvertently ended up drawing a great deal of attention to it – with the image, below, being reproduced on T-shirts, cups, websites, and more. [[We probably don’t have clearance to that photo.]]

In terms of social media, the same can occur if companies attempt to suppress negative feedback or reviews. Indeed, deleting negative comments or threatening consumers who’ve given you negative feedback can often backfire, as the consumer may then post about the contact you’ve made or about your removal of the comment.

Instead, respond to any negative feedback in a qualified, public fashion, and make it obvious that you are trying to resolve the issue. Anyone who sees your response will then see that you both care about your customers, respond to criticism, and remain professional. In short, see negative feedback as an opportunity to demonstrate good customer service.

2. Make Direct Contact

When someone leaves you negative – or even nasty – feedback, it’s important that you not only respond suitably in public (if the complaint was made on a public forum), but also reach out to the feedback-giver directly and privately.

Moving away from a public forum, and contacting a consumer privately, allows you to talk to them without the consumer feeling like they need to act up for others (or put on a show). Offering a suitable solution in this way will increase the likelihood that solution will be accepted, and direct contact can take a lot of the negative emotion out of your consumer’s communications.

You can privately message your consumer on the platform (say, Instagram or Twitter) they left the comment, send them an email if you have their email address, or, if the circumstances require, even call them up.

3. Respond Quickly!

In the world of social media, a small problem can become something much larger if left to fester. In other words, the longer you leave a problem, the worse it will become. Social media users expect a company to respond to their query or complaint within 24 hours or less – and many social media sites now rate businesses on their response times.

It’s important, then, that you ensure that you keep on top of all of your social media interactions on a daily basis. Depending on how many interactions you get, this could mean setting an hour aside in the evening, or hiring someone to respond on your behalf.

A good social media management tool will make doing all of this far easier. Tools such as AgoraPulse and Hootsuite offer social inbox functions which re-direct all messages received through social media platforms to one place so that you can respond as quickly as possible. They also provide detailed analytics and reports showing who is complaining, why they are doing so, and even what times people are most likely to complain.

Recently iag.me partnered with G2Crowd in order to create an infographic detailing the top four rated social media management tools of 2015. The winners, in no particular order, where AgoraPulse, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Sendible. The infographic was created by aggregating ratings and reviews from real social media management tool users, and is a great place to start researching social media management tools.

Are you using a social media management tool to improve your customer service? If so, which tool do you use? And what are your top social media customer service tips? Let me know with a comment!

 

 About Guest Blog Author: Lilach Bullock

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Speaker | Social Media Consultant & Trainer | Social Media Marketing & Influencer Outreach

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach Bullock has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street with her presence! In a nutshell, she’s a hugely connected and highly influential serial entrepreneur – the embodiment of Digital Intelligence.

Listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and likewise as one of the top social media power influencers, she is one of the most dynamic personalities in the social media market and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. A recipient for a Global Women Champions Award (by the Global Connections for Women Foundation, GC4W) for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.  More: www.lilachbullock.com

 

 

Image Credit: Social Meep