Implementing a social customer service strategy
Written by Binh Nguyen
It’s become clear that customer service via social media, or ‘social customer service’ is no passing fad. In fact, over 70 percent of consumers report that they would be likely to recommend a brand that responded to their comments quickly and efficiently on social media. I’m sure you’ll agree this is too good an opportunity to overlook!
But if you haven’t yet implemented a social customer service strategy, it can be difficult to know where to start. What types of resources do you need to commit? What are the best practices? What consumer expectations do you need to meet?
By following a series of simple steps, you can begin responding to customer concerns and comments on social media in no time. By jumping in without a plan, however, you may find yourself lacking the efficiency and consistency needed to effectively carry out high-quality customer care.
I’d encourage you to take the time to follow these four steps in order to generate the highest level of customer service, while making the most effective use of your limited time and resources.
Decide who will be responsible for social customer service
Before you even begin to formulate your plan, it’s imperative that you identify who will be ultimately responsible for your social customer service. In larger companies, there will obviously be overlap between marketing departments and customer service departments, and responsibilities must be clearly outlined in order to avoid confusion or a diffusion of responsibility.
In smaller organizations, determining whether social customer service tasks will be delegated to employees or outsourced is a key consideration. Who will manage these tasks on a daily basis? Who will ultimately be responsible for planning and outcomes? Who will customer service agents report to?
These are all important considerations that must be clearly articulated prior to implementing your strategy. All key players should have input into the strategy in order to facilitate increased commitment to the program.
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Find out where your customers are
It’s clear that consumers expect brands to be present and active on Facebook and Twitter. And not only that: they expect brands to respond to comments or complaints within one day.
But with limited time and resources, businesses may struggle to provide top-notch customer service on both social networks. By determining where the majority of your customers spend their time online, you can dedicate your time and resources proportionally.
To figure out where your customers prefer to interact with you, consider the following >>>
Look at your current analytics:where are your customers currently interacting with your brand? Which social networks are driving the most engagement?
Listen to conversations about your brand: Throughconducting searches of hashtags and keywords, monitor what people are saying about your brand. Are people frequently complaining about your products on Twitter? Are they tagging you on Facebook? Be present where your customers are talking about you.
Survey your current customers: Ask your customers or clients where they would prefer to interact with you.
- Find out where your competitors are conducting customer service: You may decide it’s most beneficial to focus your customer service on Twitter first, like your competitor, before rolling your customer service to other channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This will vary depending on your business, industry, and goals.
Come up with a plan
Devising a plan for exactly how you’re going to use social media for customer service is particularly imperative if you’ll be outsourcing any part of the work.
Anyone who will be involved with listening and responding to customer complaints and concerns should have a clear understanding of the strategies that should be used. Some questions that should be addressed include >>>
What types of posts will be responded to? (i.e. all posts, only complaints, etc.)
Will company representatives respond anonymously or using their name?
- What underlying message are you hoping to convey to customers?
- Will only direct comments be responded to, or do casual mentions need a response?
- When should concerns be handled on the spot, and when should they get forwarded to management?
- How quickly are agents expected to respond to comments?
Developing a social customer service handbook is a great way to make sure all parties understand expectations, roles and best practices. This will ensure a greater level of consistency across the board, regardless of who is managing customer service tasks.
Measure the results of your strategy
As with any aspect of your business, tracking and monitoring the performance of your social customer service strategy is critical. Due to the high level of resources you’ll be committing to it, you want to ensure it’s helping you achieve your overall business goals.
Although we know that measuring outcomes like ROI on social media can be difficult (if not impossible), monitoring the results of your customer service strategy is somewhat easier.
Some ways you can concretely measure the performance of your strategy include >>>
- Surveying customers periodically to have them self-report their satisfaction levels
- Tracking resolution rates by social network
- Calculating the decrease in more time-consuming methods of conducting customer service (email, phone) as social customer service strategies are implemented
- Monitoring average time to respond to issues by channel
- Calculating average cost of responding via social media versus telephone, email or live chat
- Tracking average response rate using social media as compared to other channels (are we actually increasing our response rate using social media?)
By being proactive about planning and implementing a social customer service strategy, businesses are in a far better place to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts. By determining where your customer or clients expect you to be, being intentional about how you’re interacting with them, and then using standard metrics to track your results, you can make sure you’re making the most of your time and resources.
Have you implemented a social customer service strategy? If not, why? If you have, what challenges or barriers are you experiencing? Share your comments on our Facebook page.
About the author
Binh Nguyen is the CEO of Market Ease Business Promotions, a digital marketing agencydedicated to helping companies in Australia grow by leveraging the power of the internet. In the past 6+ years, Binh has helped several multi-million dollar companies in Australia establish themselves as the market leaders in their fields, and sell millions of dollars worth of products and services online. You can connect with Binh on Google+and Facebook.
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