How To Start & Grow Your Business

5 FAQs on Using Social Media for Customer Service

Heike Young
Jan 28th, 2015
  • Estimated reading time: 3 min read
  • Hummy's

    1Customers expect customer service via FB and Twitter. 2A great platform to get feedback, and give thanks too. 3You can see how and where users discuss your brand.
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Customer Service

Dozens of social media icons haphazardly arranged

In this interview with Ben Conoley, lead analyst at ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, we discuss social media customer service best practices for any size business.

Heike: Between Facebook and Twitter, is one better for customer service? Are there other important channels for social media listening?

Ben: You should reply to customers on both platforms, but Twitter is especially helpful because brands can listen and respond to mentions from anyone, not just those who like the company page. Monitoring customer forums is also important. Identify blogs or forums with small, dedicated communities where there might not be a ton of volume, but with posts that are generally worth listening to.

Be sure you don’t ignore popular channels specific to your industry, as well. For example, if you’re a restaurant, don’t ignore Instagram, where people are posting pictures of their food, or Yelp.

Listening to forums and blogs is also a great way to find brand advocates. Form a team of social media advocates and reward them for helping your internal team with support.

Heike: Are there benefits to having a separate support handle vs. handling all customer service through the same account?

Ben: One benefit of having a separate support account is being able to track the number of posts requesting help or sent by support compared to regular marketing posts. A separate account also makes your marketing messages more visible on your main account, and helps your support team more easily see the questions they need to answer.

A word of advice, though—if you say, “Expect an answer from our support Twitter handle in half an hour,” be sure it happens. Or else you’ve answered someone’s tweet without answering their issue.

Heike: Any tips on using direct messages (DMs) to handle support queries?

Ben: With a direct message, your customer can share private info with only you, instead of their whole timeline. You may need information like their phone number, email address, or product number to complete a support request. Because you have to follow someone to send them a DM, it’s a great idea to use a separate support handle if you need to send DMs as part of support. This way it doesn’t look like your main account is following an excessive number of people.

Heike: How can you measure the success of your social media + customer service efforts?

Ben: For one, your company can track how many support requests have been resolved or opened, and how long it takes on average for agents to resolve questions. How many requests can now be solved over social media instead of in a call center?

Social media can also help you find opportunities for your support team to be more efficient. You can look at Monday-Friday: how many support posts you have coming in, and how long it takes to reply; then overnight and on weekends. You may discover that things are extremely busy in the daytime, or that you need more people on weekends when response times are slower. Or maybe you need someone to focus exclusively on what’s slipping through the cracks.

Heike: How else can brands deliver excellent customer service on social media?

Ben: Many brands focus on the “answering complaints” aspect of customer service—but great service is all about thanking people, too. This is an important area of service that sometimes goes unrecognized: reaching out to people who share photos or recommend your services to friends and thanking them.

Another area where brands can be better listeners and provide better service is by asking for feedback in real time. Ask for feedback on a new product color or a new website layout; you can make a decision pretty quickly on how you want to respond without paying for a focus group.

This article was written by Heike Young and published on ExactTarget Marketing blog.

Heike Young (Baird) is Global Content Lead at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She writes about trends and strategies for email, social, and mobile marketing on the Marketing Cloud blog.

The Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud is the world’s most powerful digital marketing 1:1 platform.