Why Your Business Needs a Social Customer Service Strategy

Social media is all about communication, and it’s time for businesses to stray away from broadcasting and interact more with their audience. Your audience is using social media to talk about their daily lives and experiences, so what are you doing to take advantage of that?

If you want to see the best ROI for your social media efforts, you need to apply a customer service strategy to it. These are some of the biggest reasons why a social media customer service strategy is no longer optional.

Social Customer Service Strategy quote from article

People are already talking about you on social media.

Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business on social media. Many times, they could be praising your products or services. Sometimes though, the mentions might be focused on a complaint or other problem. If you’re not there when your consumer is complaining or posting a negative sentiment, you’re hurting your business.

Let’s think about the numbers, borrowed from Jay Baer and his book Hug Your Haters:

  • Businesses struggle with social media response time, and only 32% of complainers are satisfied.
  • Businesses thrive on customer advocacy. Yet, if they don’t respond to a customer complaint on social media, advocacy decreases by 43%.
  • When businesses resolve a customer’s problem the first time, that customer is twice as likely to buy from the company again.

On Facebook, the platform gives Pages a response rate badge when they respond in a timely fashion to messages. When people start to send you a message, Facebook tells them how long it typically takes for you to respond. The longer you make people wait, the less likely they will go to you for help.

People talk about their experience with brands all the time. Social media is a great outlet for that because:

  • They can feel better from sharing it.
  • They have an audience of their own that would listen.
  • They might be able to get their issue resolved.

When they are on social media to talk about your business, you should be there to respond. With a customer service strategy for social media, you’ll be able to do just that.

It’ll improve your brand’s influence and image.

When you establish a social media customer service strategy, you give yourself opportunities. With every opportunity is the chance for increased sales, so why wouldn’t you want to take full advantage of them?

Brand Influence

One of the opportunities is that you can improve your brand’s influence. A customer service presence online means you’ll be more active and engaging. The more people you help, the more positive sentiment you’ll see.

Your brand influence will increase rapidly when you use customer service to:

  • Support towards those with an issue
  • Show gratitude towards the positive contributors

Customer service needs to go beyond just answering the negative sentiment. Give yourself the time and resources to respond to positive mentions as well.

Brand Image

Another opportunity is the chance to improve your brand image. On occasion, you might see a mention on social media that complains about your business. The problem will become increasingly damaging depending on the user’s reach and influence. The worst case scenario is if their complaint goes viral.

Your ability to provide quick, effective customer service on social media is a must. Your audience expects it, and without a proper presence, your brand image can be significantly damaged.

An example of bad customer service gone viral is when John Bull live-tweeted a call between his wife and their cable company, Virgin Media. The exchange went viral not only because of the call itself, but also because Virgin Media did not appear to respond to any of John’s tweets. They should’ve been on Twitter to handle major damage control, but they remained silent, likely causing even more damage than if they had responded appropriately.

How do you resolve a complaint before it damages your brand image? The best answer: have a customer service strategy in place. You need staff to be there to respond appropriately in a timely manner.

It’ll help you build relationships and brand advocates.

Social media is the best place to grow your audience in a way that builds loyalty and sales based upon human conversations. Automated social media comes in handy at times, but your business cannot rely on it with all your communications. You don’t want to be the next Bank of America with inappropriate robot responses to negative mentions. Being human is the way to go 99% of the time, so be sure you have adequate staff to handle it.

Build Relationships

Also known as nurturing a lead, building relationships has the potential to increase sales significantly more than if you left your lead to take the journey alone. Communicate with your audience proactively to show them you care, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.

When you invest the time and resources to having conversations with your target audience, you build relationships that are invaluable to your business. Your relationships help to ensure your customers buy from you again. Having a strategy for providing the necessary customer service on social media can give you the opportunity and ability to produce invaluable relationships with people.

Build Brand Advocates

Once you start building relationships and making people happy through outstanding social customer service, your customers can become advocates for your brand. Your customers are more likely to recommend your business to their networks if they’ve had a positive experience with you. If you responded promptly to an issue they had, they’ll know you care.

When brands are human in their customer service, they’ll see customers supporting them as advocates. People want to work with other people, especially when there’s a problem. With a social customer service strategy in place, you’ll have the capability to provide that.

It’ll increase your product or service’s exposure.

Having a strategy for how you handle social media customer service can help you prevent negative sentiment from overrunning the positive. Your business cannot afford to get press for negative sentiment. Use your strategy to give your products or services the positive exposure you need.

If you’re active on social media when your audience communicates with you, your brand will get noticed for your great customer service. As a result, your offerings will be better known, ultimately increasing sales.

A social media customer service real-life example

This is an exchange I had with Buffer not long ago. You’ll see that I approached them about something that didn’t even relate to their products, yet they still engaged with me and helped me out. It wasn’t a required gesture, but the act made me feel good about their brand. Sometimes, that’s all you need to do to gain a new customer or brand advocate.

I was writing an especially long article for my blog, and I wanted to know how to add in-post navigation. I asked Buffer because I’ve seen them use menus for easier navigation. Within a half hour, I received a personalized response from Darcy of Buffer.

Twitter tweets showing social customer service from Buffer

Darcy wanted to confirm she understood what I was looking for, asking me:

“Are you thinking readers can click on a link & it pulls them to another part of the article?”

I confirmed this, and only 25 minutes later, Darcy responded again.

Buffer's next response on Twitter

You might think waiting for days to get an actual answer would be poor customer service, but Darcy really pulled through. Less than 30 minutes later, she gave me an answer that solved my query.

Buffer's tweet providing the answer to my initial query

I share this example not because this should be an expectation for all businesses, but I share it to show you what could be done. Buffer holds themselves up to really high standards, and if you invest in customer service like they have, you’ll have similar chances at acquiring sales and loyal advocates.

Your business cannot afford to be slacking on social media. In today’s social environment, it’s now expected for your brand to be online 24/7/365 to talk in real-time with users.

On Twitter, users expect to hear a response to their tweet within one hour. Although that’s not always realistic for your business, it should be a goal. If your business is open for extended hours, you should be available during that time at a minimum. That’s where airlines get into trouble because they don’t have staff online 24/7 despite the fact that the company is open all day every day.

With a social media customer service strategy in place, you’ll be better guided in how you can handle complaints and praise online. You’ll have a better chance of handling a PR crisis before it becomes a viral disaster.

Get started with social media customer service by using Buffer’s Respond tool to monitor your social mentions and interactions.