How you respond to customer questions on social media can have a big impact on your brand.

Being able to respond to customer inquiries on social media is as important as responding to emails or phone calls to your business. You can succeed at customer service on social media by preparing yourself for the questions and ensuring you understand what your customers are expecting.

Why it Matters

The Q2 2016 Sprout Social Index found that 90% of people have used social media in some way to communicate directly with a brand. That is a lot of people reaching out online for answers. In addition, a study by Bain & Company found that customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money than other customers. These are sales that you do not want to miss out on. 

Start by Setting up your Social Networks

The first step to being able to provide customer service and support through social media is having your social networks set up so customers know where to find you. Once they are set up continue to monitor your social networks regularly, so you can respond to inquiries as they come in. There are a lot of great free, or cost-effective, monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Later, that you can use to know when customers are reaching out to you.

At Helcim, we’re active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and we encourage our customers to interact with us on these channels by asking questions or providing feedback about the content we produce.

Customers have High Expectations

We know you’re busy running your business and focusing on the hundred other tasks that need your attention in any given day, but it is worth taking the time to respond to the social inquiries you’re getting from customers. Research has shown customers are expecting brands and companies to respond quickly. The Social Habit found that 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes of their inquiry on social media and 42% are expecting a response within 60 minutes.

Prepare for Common Questions

Now that your social media channels are set up you want to make sure you’re prepared to give customers the same great experience online that they would get if they had walked into your store to ask a question. All your online responses are a direct representation of your brand and they not only impact the customer that you’re directly dealing with but any other potential customers who see the interaction as well. Creating a Self-Service Customer Portal can also help you by having readily available answers that you can link to.

Keep it Honest

Whether you have to respond with good or bad news, customers appreciate honesty. Keep all your responses positive and transparent. If a customer is having a poor experience for any reason, be sure to acknowledge it and offer ways to help. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and keep your responses human. Even if you are responding from a company branded account it’s okay to show that there’s a person behind the screen. Customers like to build a relationship with the brands they interact with and knowing there is a real person behind the responses helps to keep the interaction feeling authentic, it should never feel like they are talking to a robot.

Know When to Take it Offline

There will be occasions where you are not able to resolve a customer’s question on a social network. This might be because the answer or solution is complex and requires additional discussion, or you might need personal customer information. Personal details like a billing address or credit card information should never be openly discussed online.

Whatever the reason, be sure to give clear next steps and the preferred contact method to the customer. Then, watch for the customer’s follow-up and be sure to resolve the issue with them once they have reached out using the alternate method you requested.

Additional Resources

Now you should have a basic overview of why providing customer service through social media is an important part of doing business today and a basic understanding of what is required to provide a positive customer experience. HubSpot has put together a great beginners guide to Social Media Customer service if you need some additional details, and if you have more complex customer service demands then Hootsuite’s guide may be helpful.

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