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Best Customer Service Practices for Social Media

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 1/18/16 10:00 PM
Topics: social media, college store customer service

Doing customer service online can be tough. Without a face to face interaction, things can get contentious fairly quickly. But social media, being a public forum, can also be an excellent opportunity to show people that you really do have your customers' best interests at heart. In this post from Mashable, they cover some of the best practices for making social media customer service easy - or at least as easy as possible. Check out the full list here, or an excerpt below.

2. Timeliness is crucial

One of the most advantageous aspects of using social media for customer service is that it's a quick, easy way to respond to feedback. This usefulness goes out the window if it takes your company three days to respond to a timely request, such as, "What time are you open until on Wednesdays?" when it's already Saturday morning.

Millennials in particular can be averse to speaking on the phone, and reaching out via social may come as second nature. Having a dedicated person paying attention to online inquiries is key. Be sure this employee knows to check not only Twitter mentions or Facebook post comments, but also the comment sections on any company-produced blog posts, as well as direct messages on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram — and yes, even the dreaded YouTube comments.

Not every remark will require a response, but vigilance can help ensure your company isn't losing business due to oversights. Direct questions, product-related inquiries and complaints should all be addressed ASAP.

Which brings us to the next point...

3. Carefully consider hiring choices for social media positions

If your brand has a huge social following and relies heavily upon online/social outlets for customer feedback, hiring a college student to run social channels as an unpaid internship might not be especially prudent.

It's true that younger, fresh-out-of-college employees may have a more thorough grasp on how to converse and manage social media accounts, but it's important to keep in mind that there's a huge difference between knowing if an Instagram photo needs the Clarendon or the Juno filter, and knowing how to navigate the ins and outs of online customer service.

Don't hire haphazardly for positions that deal directly with customers, and carefully examine the resumes of potential community managers for prior experience with customer-service-related matters. Conducting a "trial run" or giving potential candidates hypothetical scenarios to see how they'll react in the event of a PR crisis can help you gauge if they're capable of keeping cool under pressure.

It's also important to know and clearly delineate which department in your company is responsible for what. Does social media fall under marketing, or will you be building out a separate team to handle online campaigns? Who will be the point-person in the event of an unhappy customer, and who has final say on how to manage their demands? These are important questions to consider when building out a CRM strategy.

And while there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of hiring internally versus outsourcing social media management to an external agency, it's crucial to have at least one or two people in the know and who have access to social account log-ins in the event of an emergency.

4. Take heated conversations offline in a tactful manner

Anyone who has ever worked in the service industry knows that customers can be unfair, demanding and sometimes downright cruel. Unfortunately, dealing with occasional jerks is par for the course for any professional in a customer service role.

Every now and then, you're going to have to deal with a customer on social media voicing complaints, sometimes in an obnoxious manner. It's key to get these heated conversations offline, as quickly as possible and in a way that not only placates the upset customer, but also communicates to online observers that the issue is being handled.

Anger

IMAGE: FLICKR, ROBERT MCGOLDRICK

Once the problem has been resolved offline, either on the phone, via email or in person, find a way to create an addendum to the public online conversation or remove it from public viewability. It's not always necessary to delete such interactions entirely; sometimes, when an issue has a positive outcome, proving that customers can find resolution online lends your brand valuable street cred.

Keep in mind that not every disgruntled customer will be assuaged. If a customer is using vulgar language or repeatedly trolling your brand's social pages, it may be time to find out how to remove them from your page or block future comments. Twitter, for example, recently unrolled revamped "block list" features, enabling users to more effectively ban menacing accounts and interactions.

This should typically be a last-resort option, as blocking an angry user may add fuel to the fire.

About Joe Clarkin

Joe Clarkin is a former copywriter at MBS. When he’s not working or studying, you’re most likely to find him reading a book or watching a game.

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