Is Social Media Customer Service Too Challenging?

customer service

Social media marketing has become a valuable resource for local businesses; in fact, nearly 70% of local businesses already use Facebook to reach local consumers online.

The number one value proposition of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, according to the Small Business Success Index, is the ability to identify and attract new customers. But now that consumers are spending more time than ever on social media sites, how can your local business take advantage of this channel for not just acquisition – but customer service as well?

Here are a few challenges your local business may be facing when it comes to using social channels for customer service, and tips for solving them.

The Challenge: Customers Talk about You Online
Many SMBs may not know their online reputation goes well beyond local listings and review sites. Today’s consumers share their opinions and experiences with your business – including complaints –across their social networks too.

The Solution: Listen Across Social Media
Listening across all your social media channels not only allows you to gather customer feedback, but it also enables you to measure your marketing effectiveness and social engagement. But many local businesses say they lack the time and resources to effectively use social media, and it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with direct messages, comments, reviews, and mentions. It can even be more difficult to monitor those that are not filtered through a single place or directed toward you via an @mention on Twitter or posted on your business’ Facebook wall.

To make it easier to filter and respond to customer posts, you can channel them toward your business by creating a special Facebook tab or Twitter account specifically for customer service and support messages. Then encourage your fans and followers to post there, which gives you one central location for collecting customer service data. In addition, giving customers engaging outlets like polls and questions that target customer satisfaction topics can help you gauge your overall performance.

The Challenge: Customers Want Timely Replies
In an age of instant gratification, customers want to know you’re listening –and that you have an answer. In fact, 81% of consumers using social media say it’s important for businesses to respond to questions and complaints and within a reasonable amount of time.

The Solution: Respond Immediately & Take Action
Customers and prospects want to know that you care about their needs. So it’s extremely important to check your Facebook page and Twitter mentions frequently and respond to any customer issues or pertinent questions right away. Big brands like AT&T try to keep all responses within 15 minutes, since that type of active response is highly valued by their customers.

If customers have an issue that can’t be resolved within the limitations of social media, you should provide an offline channel such as an email or phone number for the customer to speak with you directly, and so you get the complete information you need to best address their complaint. Then, filter any product or service issues to the correct person(s) within your business to improve your operations and prevent future problems.

The Challenge: Customer Experience Impacts Perception
One key part of your customer service strategy is the overall experience you provide customers both offline and offline, whether or not they have a problem or complaint. Many businesses take advantage social media to deliver a great customer experience, but it can be challenging for local businesses to build trust and engagement on social media sites.

The Solution: Humanize your Social Strategy
If you have social pages on Facebook and Twitter, make sure they contain a profile pic, bio, and frequent posts that showcase your brand personality and authority in order to establish trust with online consumers. While it’s important to listen to and respond to comments and complaints, it’s equally beneficial for you to interact with your fans and followers on a regular basis and show them the human side of your business. In addition to providing interesting and informative content, you can also create a positive experience by thanking and rewarding fans and followers, participating in customer-initiated conversations, and sharing news about an event or charity you are involved in.  Listening to how your customers respond to you will help you determine the best types of content and conversations that will drive the most engagement on your social media pages.

Is your local business using social media to deliver exceptional customer service? In what other ways are you integrating social media into your customer service strategy?

Tamara Weintraub

Tamara is a content marketing manager at ReachLocal with over 7 years experience in B2B marketing and has a nerd-level affinity for software and technology. She specializes in helping local businesses succeed online, writing and learning about Google, search advertising, SEO, and social media marketing. When she's not writing about online marketing, you can find her watching cult TV and hanging out with her Doberman.

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