Customer service has nowadays become an integral part of any brand’s omnichannel strategy. If you want to maximize customer acquisition and retention, as well as achieve your sales, marketing, and support goals, you need to be present and proactive on all relevant to online and offline channels.
This includes social media, of course, but many business leaders will often overlook the importance and potential of SM-focused customer service. Not only is it important to have customer service on your social channels in order to open a direct line of communication with your customers, it’s also important for lead generation, opening up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and building a compelling brand experience.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is SM-focused customer service. That’s why today, we are going over the best practices you can use to take your brand forward on social media with stellar customer service.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Make customer service a part of full-funnel marketing
The term full-funnel marketing encompasses a comprehensive strategy and array of tactics and tools you use to cover all stages of the buyer’s journey, on all touchpoints in the online and offline world. This is an all-encompassing approach to generating and nurturing leads towards successful conversion, but it’s also about turning customers into loyal, lifelong brand advocates.
To create and execute a full-funnel marketing strategy now and over the long term, you need to include social media customer service as an essential building block. Customer service on social media platforms should be one of the primary ways to engage with your target demographic and your followers.
This will allow you to generate and nurture leads effectively throughout their journey.
To empower your support staff to complement your full-funnel strategy and become one of its key parts, you need to:
- Create and share your customer journey map
- Create and share your buyer personas
- Create and share SOPs and guidelines for all types of customer intent
- Create and share guidelines on spotting lead gen, conversion, or up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
- Share relevant goals and KPIs to help support experts allocate effort and resources
- Automation will only get you so far
When it comes to engaging with your customers in the DMs, you also need to have a concrete strategy and clear SOPs to facilitate conflict resolvement, flip negative feedback into positive feedback, and achieve various sales and marketing goals. But where does automation fit into all of that?
Many companies nowadays like to introduce AI-driven chatbots as a form of customer service automation on social media to alleviate the pressure off their support staff and resolve issues quickly. But automation will only get you so far, and oftentimes it’s not used to its full potential.
The point of having a chatbot on social media is not just to support your human staff, it’s also to capitalize on sales opportunities or guide customers to take any positive action. Whether you get them to buy something or to simply download your eBook, all of those are positive outcomes.
If you want to take your customer support on social media to the next level, you need to use chatbots for more than repetitive queries and common issues.
- Guide customers to choose a product right there in the DMs
- Ask people to complete a short survey
- Guide people to your website’s self-help center
- Ask people to join your email list
- Offer a better product (up-sell) or a complementary product (cross-sell)
- Connect people instantly with human staff to resolve complex issues
- Boost CX with your loyalty program
Customer support on social media is usually regarded as a one-way street. You wait for people to reach out to you for information, to provide feedback, or to get help in completing an action. That’s all fine and great, but keep in mind that customer support can be a two-way street as well.
There’s a lot you can achieve simply by reaching out from time to time in the DMs with a heartfelt message of appreciation, for example. On Instagram, you can send out automated thank-you messages to new followers, or when someone shares your post or buys one of your products.
And then you can take things a step further by using this direct line of communication to promote your loyalty program with all the perks and benefits it brings to the customer. You can also offer your loyalty app to customers who are reaching out to you via DMs, as a way to thank them for putting their trust in your brand.
This will boost customer experience across your social media accounts if you do it consistently, so make sure to:
- Create a value-driven loyalty program
- Educate your customer service staff on its benefits
- Train your staff on how and when to offer it
- Engage social media writers to weave your loyalty app into your template messages
- Respond to questions quickly and make it easy for people to join
- Use SM customer service for your brick-and-mortar business
One of the biggest mistakes that many brick-and-mortar business owners make is that they neglect their online presence. That said, many do have a thriving online presence but their level of customer service online is subpar at best, which prevents them from building more social proof and generating more sales at their physical place of business.
While it is to be expected that a physical business owner will focus on running their business instead of engaging with people online, it can have many negative consequences down the road. After all, people who visit physical businesses like cafes and restaurants, for example, are still researching and trying to engage with those brands in the digital world.
So for example, if you’re in the hospitality industry and you want to build exceptional restaurant customer service for all your existing and potential customers, you have to take your social media seriously. In other words, you need to shift your focus to social media service and support, and become more active.
To that end:
- Identify the relevant social channels for your business and industry
- Employ a specialist to start communicating with people online
- Be responsive and answer your customers quickly
- Promote your business and brand by reaching out to people
- Craft enticing offers and special codes people can use by visiting your place of business
- Ask for feedback every time
Whether people are reaching out to you in the DMs or if you’re reaching out to them, you need to be able to recognize when the opportunity is right to ask for feedback. What’s more, you need to keep in mind that asking for feedback is not just about how likely they are to recommend you to someone, it’s about gathering concrete, nuanced data to drive your business forward as a whole.
Many companies will ask for feedback to feed their vanity metrics like, such as how satisfied someone is with their service, but you want to use feedback as a tool to develop your competitive advantage.
So first, when is a good time to ask for feedback. Consider asking when:
- Someone reaches out with a positive sentiment
- Someone reaches out for more information
- You’ve successfully resolved an issue
- You’ve turned a disgruntled customer into a success story
- You’re sending out welcome and thank you DMs
- You’re sending out “sorry to see you go” DMs
Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to make interactive posts for Facebook and Instagram, and other social channels, because feedback is deeply interactive and engaging when used properly. With that in mind, what can you ask your customers?
Here are some examples to consider that go beyond “did you like our service”:
- How did our customer service representative handle your issue?
- What did you enjoy most about your experience?
- What did you enjoy least about your experience? What can we improve?
- Sorry to see you go. Could you tell us why you’re leaving?
- Is our product/service no longer relevant to you? Could you tell us why?
- Could you tell us what you like most about our product/service?
- If a friend or colleague asked you about us, what would you tell them?
- Do you think our products/services are priced appropriately?
- What are some of the product/service features you would like to see in the future?
- Are you satisfied with the personalized offers we’re sending you here? What would you like to see more of?
- Localize your social media customer service
This one is not so much a rule as it is a good thing to do if you want to maximize the potential of your customer service department on social channels. Localization is often overlooked, but for brand’s that have an international presence and social channels that serve communities in different countries, it can be one of the things that sets them apart from the competition.
Social media localization doesn’t just mean translating your posts into the local language, it means optimizing the account according to the local language and speaking customs, culture, way of life, and the relevant local trends. And the same goes for your customer service.
In order to serve your customers effectively with multilingual social media in different regions of the world, it’s important to hire local customer service agents. These professionals will be able to engage with your followers and customers on a deeper level, providing a great service to the local community.
For successful customer service localization, make sure to:
- Research the local audience and culture
- Research the local competition
- Hire local or native-speaking customer service specialists
- Decide to centralize or decentralize customer service management
- Optimize your messaging, deals and discounts, and loyalty programs for the local audience
- Have clear support guidelines and SOPs
Effective customer service on social media, and especially in the private DM realm, demands speed and accuracy. Speed meaning how fast you respond to messages, and accuracy meaning how effectively and accurately you communicate with and guide a customer towards a positive outcome.
You need both to deliver good customer service. But to deliver exceptional service, the kind that steals customers from your competitors, you need SOPs and guidelines that go beyond the technical aspects.
Your customer service agents need to:
- Ensure brand consistency on all social channels
- Present a unified, brand-specific tone of voice
- Weave the right values into their messaging and communication
- Follow SOPs for different types of questions and issues
- Learn when and how to try up-selling and cross-selling to customers
- Learn when and how to ask for feedback (see above)
All of this requires the upper management to develop comprehensive SOPs, a detailed brand style guide, and to disseminate these documents across all customer service team members.
- Turn DMs into success stories on your feeds
Customer service on social media doesn’t have to end in the DMs. Yes, your primary goal is to ensure customer satisfaction for each customer you interact with, but there’s no law saying that you can’t use those interactions for public brand-building on your social channels.
Consider asking your customers if it would be okay for you to share the experience and the process they went through on your social accounts, as a part of your posting strategy and a way to grow your social media presence.
This is most effective when you manage to transform negative feedback into a success story by helping a disgruntled customer resolve an issue and by managing to retain them as a loyal customer. You can then make a success story out of it and share with your following the steps you took to show this customer just how much you care and appreciate them.
This is how customer service can aid in brand-building across the social media realm.
Over to you
Focusing on delivering exceptional customer service on your social media platforms can open many new opportunities for your business in the online realm, but also in the offline world. Customer service on social media is not just about being there to answer queries or respond to complaints, it’s about having a proactive approach that will help generate more leads, boost retention and customer experience, and help you take your brand forward as a whole.
With all of this in mind, make it your goal to quickly implement these best practices into your SM support strategy for 2022 and beyond, and watch as you start to surpass your marketing and sales expectations.