Social media customers have increasingly demanding expectations. About 95 percent of millennials expect brands to have a Facebook presence, and over 80 percent expect brands to be on Twitter, HubSpot research found.
According to Edison Research, 42 percent of customers expect service requests made through social media to be handled within 60 minutes, while 32 percent expect a response within 30 minutes. About 57 percent expect the same response on evenings and during weekends as during normal business hours.
If you’re a small business with a small staff, meeting these expectations may seem daunting. Here are some strategies for providing effective 24/7 social media customer service.
Establish Your Customer Service Social Strategy
Twitter provides some customer service guidelines for their platform that serve as a useful template for social media in general. Twitter recommends aligning your social service strategy with your marketing, branding and overall service goals. How do you want your customer service to position your company? How will your social media service contribute to this? Sum up your strategy in a vision statement using two to five keywords describing what you will deliver customers, how this will make you stand out from the competition and what you will do to put these ideals into action.
Twitter suggests organizing your strategy around three stages of customer service. The most reactive stage involves responding when a customer posts a message directly requesting a service representative. The next stage involves posting resolutions to issues affecting groups of customers, such as announcing an update or a solution to a software glitch. The most proactive stage anticipates customer service concerns before they come up by posting relevant content, such as how-to tips. Most companies begin with a priority of reacting to individual service issues and gradually develop the capability of becoming more proactive. But if you’re already doing significant social media marketing, you may be able to adopt a more proactive strategy by incorporating customer service tips into your content feeds.
Set Performance Goals
To put your social customer service strategy into effect, the next step is setting measurable performance goals. This will enable you to create benchmarks for evaluating your progress and measuring whether or not your strategy is successful.
You can set customer service goals in a number of specific areas. Internally, you can measure your operational performance, using metrics such as number of incidents, average response time and percentage of tickets resolved through social media without having to be referred to the phone or another media channel. You can also measure external, customer-centered goals — such as what percentage of customers are satisfied with your response, average level of satisfaction and likelihood of referring you to a friend or family member.
Create Your Support Infrastructure
The next step toward putting your strategy into practice is creating an infrastructure for your support team. This begins with setting up your social media support accounts, which can use dedicated customer service usernames or brand usernames. You will also need to pick the members of your support team. These should be personnel with a combination of strong interpersonal, writing and technical skills. You can deploy members of your own organization or outsource to a professional help center.
If you’re using members of your own organization, you may need to set up your communications infrastructure. For instance, you may opt to go with a virtual PBX provider who lets you forward texts and customer service calls from your business number to the smartphone numbers of your team members. This lets you employ remote representatives using their own iPhone or other mobile device instead of relying on in-office equipment.
Planning your workflow is another important part of creating your infrastructure. For instance, you might decide that service requests about billing information should get routed to different personnel than technical support requests.
Once you implement your customer service strategy, you should start collecting feedback so you can evaluate your results and make improvements. One simple way to do this is to send a survey to customers who have just been helped to evaluate your performance. Use their input, whether positive or negative, as valuable information to improve your service.