Going Multi-Channel with Social Customer Service

Jul 22, 2015

paths pointing in different directions for customer service

It’s easy to think of social media as only useful for keeping up with Aunt Bertha or staying connected to your college buddy everyone called “Keg Stand.” The thing is, social media has evolved into so much more than its initial purpose; it has swiftly become a channel for customers to directly engage with brands in a meaningful way.

Sometimes that meaningful connection doesn’t come in the form of a cute photo of the product they just purchased from you. Sometimes it comes in the form of a complaint (and some of those are incredibly mean). So the question remains: are you there to respond?

If you’ve been ignoring social media altogether, or if you aren’t using it to provide customer service, you are missing a huge opportunity. In a recent study conducted by Conversocial, they found customers not only expect you to be on social media, but to be ready to handle their issues there also.

  • 43% of customers expect social channels to be integrated with other customer service channels
  • Only 26% of companies say their staff take social seriously as a customer service tool
  • 27% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes or less

It is clear that many consumers expect the same customer service they can receive over the phone or on live chat or on social media. If you’re looking to create a multi-channel customer experience, you have no choice but to fold social media in with it.

Here are some quick tips for incorporating social media into your overall customer service strategy.

Go Where Your Customers Go
Some social media experts will advise businesses to be active everywhere on social. The reality is not all businesses have the time or resources to maintain a presence on every single social platform available. Instead, focus on the channels your customers actually use. Maybe your audience scales a bit older. They are likely on Facebook. If your average customer is somewhere between 18 and 25, you should definitely be on Instagram. Taking the time to figure out which channels your customers are using will save you time and maximize your connection to those customers.

Make Your Presence Known
Encourage your customers to follow you on social media by including links on your website, in your emails, or really anywhere you can put them. Not only is this good for driving traffic to your site and creating brand awareness, but it also cuts out a step for them. By sharing social links, you are making it easy for your customers to find you. And don’t just remind them with links: tell them in person or create signs for your business that advertise where you are on social media.

Create a Separate Strategy for Social
It’s one thing to have social media accounts for your business, but now you have to actually monitor them for any kind of mention of your business. You can’t just set it and forget it. Social media is open around the clock, so some customers expect a response in the middle of the night. Create a strategy that work for your business for response times and who amongst your staff will do the responding. Often, it’s necessary to have a tool that sends out auto messages telling the customers when they can expect a response. Build a strategy around what works for your business and your customers.

Just don’t forget to actually respond to your customers. “We’re getting to the point now that if companies don’t respond, they will have a black mark against them,” said Dennis Stoutenburgh, co-founder of Stratus Contact Solutions.

Streamline Your Support with a Tool
You and your team are awesome, but you’re human. It’s easy for customer issues to fall through the cracks if there isn’t some kind of system in place. A customer support tool can help you manage all of those tweets or Facebook messages with ease. Popular options include Freshdesk or Zendesk. Both assist in creating help tickets for each individual post; giving you a better way to manage your response time and workflow.

It’s one thing to say you provide multi-channel customer service and another to actually provide a well-rounded customer service experience that includes social media. You can’t just log in to Twitter and expect to keep up with all customer communication that way. It takes planning and a little bit of help to create an experience that makes going multi-channel worth it for your business.

 

Now, it’s your turn! Tell us in the comments how you manage customer service on social media.

 

Author:

Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones is a content writer and the social media manager for PATLive. She works from her cave, er, her home in Fayetteville, Ark., with her trusty dog and curmudgeonly cat by her side.

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