Utilizing social media for customer service is no longer optional, it’s mandatory. While many digital marketers have heard stories about large companies who are using social media effectively as a customer support channel, there are a lot of small to medium size businesses who are missing the boat. Many businesses still see handling customer requests and complaints via social media as a burden rather than the incredible opportunity it really is. These businesses see it as an area that requires time and resources, instead of an area that can create die-hard brand advocates. But as I look at the social media marketing landscape as a whole, I see not having an online customer service plan as an Achilles heel.
The reason why I say this confidently is that the two social media giants – Facebook and Twitter have continued to take big steps toward making customer service a priority. First it was back in April when Twitter allowed direct messages to be sent to users that are not following you. Then, most recently, Facebook added a feature allowing business pages to manage saved replies making it easier than ever to answer FAQ’s. Both of these moves indicate to me that there’s more to come and plenty of opportunity for businesses to start taking advantage of these features right now. Let’s take a closer look…
Direct Messages on Twitter
If you remember, it used to be that in order to direct message someone on Twitter, they first had to be following you. This created another layer of friction when dealing with customer service online. Let’s say I had a complaint about a cold cup of coffee I received at a Starbucks. I would be forced to post that complaint publicly on Twitter as a regular @ reply unless Starbucks was already following me on Twitter (highly unlikely). Then, in order for them to respond to me via a direct message, I would have to be following their account. Kind of messy, right? Not only did it mean more complaints posted publicly, it meant additional steps just to get something resolved. This often added frustration to these type of communications online.
Now Twitter has done away with these added steps. On the downside, it means anyone can direct message you which could be a little strange, but on the plus side it means customer service on Twitter is easier and faster than ever. And when you really stop to think about it, that’s the way it should be. Customers expect to get response and get them fast using social media. In fact, often times they’ll use social media when unable to get through to someone using other traditional types of communication such as a phone call or email. Twitter has made it easier and faster than ever by rolling out this update to make it the preferred social network for customer service. Why? Because you are limited to just 140 characters, so you know it’s going to be fast!
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Replies on Facebook
Facebook is driving more attention than ever to its messages. Each time a message is received by a brand page, there are additional notifications (beyond the standard number icon) showing how long the average response time is and how many messages have not been responded to. Facebook is urging brands to respond to all messages as fast as possible. In fact, if you average less than 5 minutes responding to 90% of your messages, a special green icon and notice can be adding to your Facebook page letting fans know you have extremely fast response times.
Further, Facebook recently made it possible to save replies; even creating pre-populated messages that can be used to answer FAQ’s. There’s personalization that can be added to the messages such as a greeting which automatically pulls in the Facebook user’s first name and email signature style closings which can even use saved photos and emoticons. This makes it easy to build up a library of answers which can be reused over and over again further speeding up response time. I think there’s plenty more to come from Facebook yet in 2015 on the customer service front, but this was a great start.
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Moving forward, it’s clear there will be even more of an emphasis on using social media for customer service than ever before. This gives businesses who “get it” a distinct advantage over those who show up late for the party, or don’t show up at all. It’s going to be expected more and more that companies of all sizes are staffed and prepared to respond to requests via social media in a timely manner. That’s just the bottom line. And those who fail to do so, will risk gaining a poor reputation by getting blasted in online reviews and comments. It must be a part of any social media marketing strategic plan moving forward.
Need help understanding how to use social media for customer service? Please contact us today to talk.