Social Customer Service: What It Takes to Win at Customer Care

More consumers are using social media to request support than to find marketing content, and direct access to agents and product experts is expected. Yet most companies are still struggling to make the shift to social customer care.

man using laptop with social media icons

Social media is no longer an emerging customer service channel, but a core component of modern customer care. Don’t believe us? Here are six social media customer care stats that might change your mind:

  1. 80% of consumers use social media to engage with brands. (Forrester)
  2. 54% of customers prefer social media for customer service vs. phone or email. (Conversocial)
  3. 60% of customers who post complaints on social media expect a response from brands in less than an hour. (Go Globe)
  4. Solving a customer issue via social media is 83% less expensive than a traditional call center interaction. (Go Globe)
  5. Brands that don’t respond to comments on social media risk a 15% increase in churn rate. (Gartner)
  6. Responding to a social media complaint can increase brand advocacy by as much as 25%. (Convince and Convert)

Every social media complaint is an opportunity to turn detractors into advocates in a public, highly visible space. So how do you succeed in providing the top-notch social care that keeps consumers coming back?

9 Social Media Customer Service Best Practices

1. Identify the posts that need your attention.

Consumers create an average of 500 million new tweets per day, not to mention everything they post on the other major platforms, in product reviews, and as part of community forums. Nonetheless, a key part of customer care on social is hearing everything being said about your brand, even if you’re not @ mentioned. Obviously, no one person—or even team of people—can accomplish that feat. You need a social media monitoring and listening tool that can crawl the internet in real time to uncover every mention of your brand, no matter where it occurs.

But more than that, you need a smart social listening tool that can cut through the noise and prioritize the posts that need your attention. Domino’s, for example, started using Astute’s social media management software and found that only about 3% of posts about its brand actually require action from your team. The software allows Domino’s to tune out the other 97% of social noise so it can focus on providing support for the customers who need it, as well as engaging influencers to draw in new customers. Using the tool, the social customer care team shortened their handling time for 15 minutes to five minutes.

2. Be available when and where customers need you.

Social media never sleeps. Unlike the service options you may offer on your website, like phone numbers, email addresses, and live chat, where it’s easy to stipulate your hours of operations, the expectation on social media is 24/7 availability.

Using a social media customer care solution that offers a mobile app is one way to ensure prompt responses even when your team members aren’t in front of their computers. Another option is to guide customers towards a customer service chatbot during the service team’s off-hours, which can be deployed on channels like Facebook Messenger for a seamless social customer care experience.

3. Reply to customers quickly on social media.

As cited above, the majority of consumers who post a complaint or question on social media expect brands to reply in under an hour. However, as if that wasn’t challenging enough, social media customer care benchmarks for Facebook and Twitter require brands to respond within 15 minutes to be considered truly responsive.

These quick SLAs are possible, though. With the right processes and technology to first identify the posts that need attention, route them to the best agent to respond, and streamline the response process by managing all interactions in a single interface, fast social media response times are feasible. We’ve already mentioned how Domino’s achieved an average social case handle time of five minutes, but other Astute customers have been able to respond to customers on social quickly as well. Take Dine Brands, for example: using Astute Social, they cut their average social handle time from five minutes to only one.

4. Reply to everyone who posts.

Many brands make the mistake of only addressing the complaints that are voiced on social channels. However, social media can also be a great source of praise for your brand and products. Be sure to thank customers for positive mentions of your brand, and use those positive mentions as an opportunity to engage more deeply and/or amplify their advocacy.

5. Be positive in your responses, but not too scripted.

As with live chat, SMS, and other more “casual” interaction channels, many customer service teams have struggled to make the transition from the more formal language of traditional customer service to the more laid-back, friendly tone of social media. The positivity and tone of your responses make an even bigger impact on social media, where they become part of the fabric of your brand’s online presence.

Some social media management tools allow for creating response templates for different types of replies. While this can be helpful to reinforce a positive yet casual tone, agents should always tailor the response to the individual customer to provide the most personalized experience – and avoid a comment history that looks canned and repetitive.

6. Know when to transition to a private channel.

While many social media customer service interactions can be resolved in a public space, some may require additional personal details from the customer, like an account number or address, that you wouldn’t want them to post for all to see. When possible, transition the interaction to a private space within the original channel, such as Facebook Private Messages or Twitter Direct Messages.

It’s important to enable the customer to continue the conversation in the channel they initially chose, not only because it provides a more seamless experience, but because it increases the chances of resolving the issue. Many companies have found that, when they ask customers who voice an issue on social media to switch the conversation to another channel, like phone or email, the customer never follows up and the issue is never resolved.

7. Don’t forget ratings and reviews.

When you hear “social media,” what sites come to mind? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit? What about reviews of your product on Amazon or Google My Business? While these aren’t social networks, social media monitoring tools can help gather and present reviews of your products in a central location for easier management.

Responding to reviews is just as important as responding to customer complaints and questions on social media, and having them collected in one place makes this process drastically simpler.

8. Make it easy for your teams to collaborate.

Those quick response times are much easier to achieve with a social media management tool that simplifies agent workflow. What’s more, social media software should make it as simple as possible for different teams, like Customer Care, Marketing, and agencies, to manage multiple brand accounts in a single place.

The short video below shows how simple it is to manage customer interactions using Astute Social:

9. Integrate social and CRM.

Your social media management software should be integrated with your CRM software to allow social interactions to be managed and recorded alongside those from every other channel.

An example workflow using integrated software could look something like this:

  • The social media management software uses a smart listening tool to pull in all social posts about the brand and determine which ones need a response.
  • A priority post is pushed to the CRM, along with relevant context about the customer and the interaction, so that an agent can respond accurately and thoughtfully.
  • The agent responds to the post within the CRM software (or forwards the post to another department, such as Legal), and the interaction is tracked the same way as any other type of case.
  • The response is automatically posted to the native social platform, so the customer gets a reply within minutes.

Leveraging integration between social and CRM also allows for hassle-free escalation to another channel, if needed. Although staying in the customer’s original channel of choice is the best practice, there will always be issues that are too sensitive or complex to be resolved within the limitations of social media. CRM integration simplifies this process for a better experience for customers and agents alike.

Where Astute Fits In

Astute Social integrates seamlessly with our CRM as well as other leading CRM solutions. It allows companies to combine social care and social marketing into one comprehensive platform with engagement, publishing, ad management, and reporting tools, along with a real-time data dashboard and a mobile app.

  • Noise-cancelling for the web. Astute Social’s crawlers continually pick up new sites and forums so you’ll never miss a relevant mention, then the system prioritizes urgent posts that need your attention.
  • Keep track of posts, wherever they go. The auto-routing tool assigns high-priority posts to the right person in the organization, even if they aren’t a user of the software, and confirms issue resolution from one central interface.
  • Social chaos becomes meaningful insight. Powerful analytics turn unstructured data into actionable insights by clustering trending topics. View a high-level trend overview or dive deep into individual posts for a thorough analysis.
  • React in the moment. Real-time insights allow you to adjust your marketing strategies with unprecedented agility. Measure, adjust, and measure again in a continuous feedback loop.
  • Understand what customers are really saying. Astute Social uses sentiment tracking and natural language processing to understand the nuance of language and emotions, including slang and sarcasm.

Learn more about Astute Social and schedule a personalized demo today.