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By 13 July 2017 | Categories: news

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Article written in collaboration with Merchants.

Whether you run a small business or are the owner of a well-established company, having a social media presence and a strategy for online customer service is important for your brand. According to the Q2 2016 Sprout Social Index, 90% of surveyed consumers have used social media in some way to communicate directly with a brand. What’s more, the survey showed that social surpasses phone and email as the first platform most people turn to when they have an issue with a product or service.

While customer service via social media can produce positive public relations (PR), things can quickly get out of hand if online negativity from unhappy customers is widespread. Find out what you should be doing right to produce good PR and master your brand’s customer service using social media.


1. Meet social media response time expectations

One of the benefits of using social media as an avenue for customer service is that it’s a quick and easy way to respond to requests from consumers. That’s why you can’t make the mistake of taking three days to respond to an urgent request. When customers are upset, or when they have an urgent request, they want an immediate response.

A study by Lithium Technologies highlighted that customers have high expectations for a quick response from a brand; 53% expected a brand to respond to their Tweet within one hour, and that figure skyrocketed to 72% when they had complaints. Millennials in particular, may not feel as comfortable speaking on the phone, while communicating via social media may come as second nature.


2. Take heated conversations offline in a sensitive manner

The reality is that not all queries presented over social media can be easily dealt with in a single exchange, especially if the issue is very complicated or when the customer has many grievances to voice. From time to time, you’re going to have to deal with customers voicing complaints on social media, sometimes in an extremely unpleasant manner.

In such situations, it’s critical to get the heated conversations offline immediately, and in a way that not only calms the upset customers but also makes it clear to online observers that the issue is being resolved. Once the issue has been dealt with offline, find a way to remove it from public visibility, however, it’s also not always imperative to delete such conversations entirely. When there is a positive outcome, showing that customers can find resolution on your social media platform gives your brand valuable credibility.


3. Reveal your brand’s human side

People tend to feel more comfortable dealing with other people rather than with invisible faces, so it’s important to let customers know that they are communicating with a real, live human being on the other end of the computer screen. The key to delivering excellent customer service on social media is not only to be speedy, but also to be personal and thoughtful in your response. Social media allows you to choose your words carefully before you respond, and to communicate in an informal and conversational tone.

How does your company merge social media with customer service? If you are not able to meet all your customers’ expectations through social media, looking into customer management outsourcing can bridge the gap.

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