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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Cheap and Sharp Ways to Use Social Media for Customer Service

    Posted by Bill Faeth

     The Power of Public Customer Service

    Social media for brand awareness. Social media for buzz. There's a lot fewer conversations about social media for customer service, but it's a topic that deserves coverage. Resolving customer complaints and queries via Twitter and Facebook is cheap, for one. According to Forrester Research, the average cost on an incoming call to a customer service representative is $33. Working with a disgruntled or confused client electronically is likely to cost your brand a lot less.

    The tool is so effective that big brands have caught on. Ford Motor Company has some pretty well-established protocol for working with their clients. Eight full-time staff members are dedicated to monitoring conversations on major social media network. According to their global manager of communications, Scott Monty, "We are looking to engage with someone...(in) under four hours." Ford's agents are trained in moving these complaints from the public realm into more private, emailed conversations or direct messages to speed up conversations and provide privacy surrounding the exchange of personal contact information.

    According to research by DMG Consulting, 67% of enterprises are using social media for customer service. The top aspect of customer service is crisis-management: responding to complaints on Twitter quickly can prevent them from getting out of hand. Sharper brands have started monitoring conversations with the help of keyword searches to gain insight into exactly what's driving their clients' conversations.

    Adopt Query-Jacking

    There's a good chance that if clients first learned of your brand on Facebook or Twitter, they'll return to your business page for help in the future. If you're smart, you won't just help these clients reach resolution. You'll "query-jack" these questions and use them as a starting place for creating Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content, which could include blog posts and offers. Both B2B and B2C companies could even take this query-jacking a step further and use it as a tool for spotlighting their loyal clients. You can feature the business or client who originally asked the question in your content as a tool for humanizing your brand, perhaps even sweetening the deal by offering them an incentive of a gift certificate or discount.

    Establish an Engaged Reputation

    By developing a reputation as a brand that actively engages with their clients and prospects, your buzz-factor could easily sky-rocket. There's an ancient saying that "there's no such thing as bad publicity." While it holds limited truth, actively working to establish your company's social media profiles as somewhere your fans can come to hold dialogue will  increase your visibility within their networks, too. Here are some tips for moving your customer service presence off your phone lines and into social media networks:

    1. Consider a Second Twitter Account

    There's a number of high-profile brands who've made their commitment to social media customer service well-known by creating a Twitter account just for resolving issues. Virgin Mobile is one well-known example. If your inquiries are high enough to clutter your company's feed, it could be wise to separate your Twitter accounts. Respond to initial inquiries to let them know that @YourBrandCustomerService will be contacting them.

    2. Be Expedient

    The majority of consumers in both the US and International markets expect responses to their questions and queries the same day, no exceptions. 30% expect a response within a matter of hours. We understand you need to sleep, but the current climate of customer service dictates responding really quickly on social media. Make a goal of replying within an hour whenever possible.

    3. Be a Human

    Despite the fact that the Internet has become a major channel for communications, people still want to talk to people, especially if they're upset. Signing your responses to customer service queries with at least a first name has been adopted by many social media all-stars, including Zappos and Portland-based natural foods chain New Seasons Market. Being empathetic is always a tenant of great customer service, and it's going to come across a lot more sincere if you attach a name. 

    4. Be Nice

    There's always going to be trolls who contact your company on social media with the sole intention of agitating your customer service and social media managers. While it's best to disregard or delete these contacts, make a point of being nice the rest of the time. You're not just going to salvage a single relationship, you could earn the attention and respect of that person's networks.

    5. Use Analytics

    In the world of inbound marketing strategy and social media, it all comes back to analytics. Keep tabs on how you're company is doing overall. How many interactions were resolved and how many escalated? Is there anything you can do in the future to salvage a higher percentage of clients?  Learn, improve and grow.

    Is Your Brand Using Social Media for Customer Service?

    Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/bplanet


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    Topics: Social Media