Ben Harrington, Managing Director at BlueSocial offers 4 tips for businesses using social media to manage customer service.

If you bought a product or paid for a service 20 years ago and there was a problem with the product or service you probably either personally take it back to the place from where you bought it, pick up the phone, or write a letter of complaint. However, the days of popping to the letterbox with your disgruntled feelings no longer really exist. The place most people now turn to when they have issues is social media.

Take a look at the Twitter feed on the Facebook page as any significant consumer based company and you’ll often see a myriad of complaints from disgruntled customers or clients. While that company may have incredibly high approval ratings, with a significant amount of satisfied customers compared with those with dissatisfied, just a handful of bad experiences can render the social reputation of the business very poor. In 2017, it’s pretty unforgivable for any significant business to not be actively dealing with comments, complaints or queries that appear on social media and yet we see numerous examples of bad practice or complete and utter ignorance when it comes to resolving complaints on social media.

With that in mind, here are some key considerations that socially active businesses need to take into account when handling queries on social media.

1. Control Your Channels

It’s not always a good idea to let customers ride roughshod across your social media channels, but you can control who makes comments and what is allowed to be said, for example, on your Facebook page. It’s definitely a good idea to have standards of acceptable behaviour across your social media channels. These can include not allowing offensive, racist or sexist behaviour. There are a number of ways this can be controlled and handled across different social channels like filters on Facebook. It’s also a good idea to try and take any discussions offline but refer to them has been resolved online when the issue has been dealt with, or ask your customer to post a comment of the likes on the channel. Customers can be extremely willing once a good resolution to their issue has been found.

2. Have Round the Clock Coverage

You may work on a nine-to-five basis but many of your clients or customers don’t. In fact, the time when people are most likely to be engaged on social media, and therefore get out that proverbial complaint letter writing pen, is during the evenings or on weekends. Consequently, it’s not acceptable to leave comments on social media about your services hanging and they need to be dealt with out of office hours. If this is not something you are able to do then it may be worth considering outsourcing this practice to a social media agency who can deal with out of hours complaints or queries for you. Often this will simply be a matter of genuinely acknowledging the complaint, offering sympathy and ensuring the upset customer that their grievance will be dealt with first thing the following day.

3. Have KPIs

Like the service that you deliver, it’s also important that you have KPIs around response times on social media. Just as it’s seen as bad practice not to be able to respond to queries or comments on the evening or weekends, it’s also unacceptable to wait 7 hours to respond to a disgruntled tweet or Facebook post. Many clients we work with at #BlueSocial have an agreement with us to respond appropriately to queries in a given time frame, irrespective of the hour of day.

4. Create Stock Answers

Without removing the human touch, it’s perfectly reasonable to create a series of stock answers for the comments or queries that people have. You know your industry well and you’ll know that there are particular comments or questions that people have that will elicit similar responses. For example, if you work for an airline, you’ll know that there are a specific series of issues or complaints people may have around flight delays, lost baggage, standard of food etc. So it’s perfectly reasonable to have stock replies without being too formulaic. Having said that, it’s important not to just have one generic response of “we’ll get back to you during opening hours” because in many ways this can be more frustrating and annoying than actually not responding at all.

By Ben Harrington
Managing Director

Originally published in Net Imperative | October 2017

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