In this fast-paced world, prompt responses to customers on social media could be your advantage over competitors. Build a long-lasting relationship with your customers by providing stellar customer support on the channels that they use most frequently.
Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved from advertising channels to platforms for soliciting and receiving customer service.
A J.D. Power and Associates study found that 67% of users have contacted a brand for customer support on social media.
That means providing support to customers on social media is no longer optional — it’s required.
6 Ways to Simplify Customer Support on Social Media
- Respond quickly
- Offer self-service
- Use social media monitoring
- Train support staff to respond on social media
- Offer multilingual customer service
- Strive for customer satisfaction
1. Respond Quickly
Response time is critical for businesses on social media. Studies show that customers feel they deserve a quick response over social media.
Northridge Group found that 42% of consumers expect a response to their query within just one hour — and 17% expect a response within mere minutes.
However, if you’re a small business or a company with limited resources, providing an immediate response can prove difficult. Try using a template message with a prewritten structure and text that’s helpful for common responses.
A brief message like this lets the consumer know you’ve received their message while explaining when and how you’ll respond to them.
Keep in mind that speed doesn’t matter if you don’t respond to customer queries. As a rule of thumb, if you can easily answer a question posed in the form of a comment or Tweet, do so. Provide timely and correct answers that are visible to the public.
An astounding 88% of consumers are less likely to purchase from a brand that questions unanswered on social media, as per a consumer study by Conversocial. Taking a few seconds to respond can break or make the sale.
When dealing with an unhappy customer, provide the initial response over social media, then move the conversation offline or to another channel.
2. Offer Self-Service
Most customers want instant access to information about your product or service. They don’t want to call customer service or wait hours for a reply to their email.
This is where self-help, in the form of a knowledge base, comes to your rescue. A knowledge base is equivalent to an online library that delivers the exact information that the reader is looking for.
Exhaustive information about your product or service in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and page of resource articles helps the customer find answers, without having to wait for assistance from support staff.
Provide key information on your website to show customers you understand their most common questions.
3. Use Social Media Monitoring
According to a report by Insights Guide, consumers exchange more than 1 billion messages with businesses on Facebook each month.
Customers prefer contacting businesses on channels they frequently use, and they expect businesses to respond promptly.
If you think that your customer will directly message your business every time they have a problem, then you’re completely mistaken.
Customer service impacts trust, as indicated in this chart:
Most participants from the 1,044 surveyed by Zendesk rate excellent customer service as the top factor in trusting a brand.
When Mention analyzed 35 million tweets, they found that only 9% of customer service messages were directed at brands on social networks. As many as 30% of customer service messages did not even tag the brand.
So how do you find messages on social media when they’re not even directed toward your business? The answer: social media monitoring.
Read conversations about your brand on social media by looking up mentions, keywords, comments, and phrases that customers and leads use. Also called a Buffer alternative, SocialPilot is a monitoring tool used by small businesses, marketing teams, agencies, and enterprises.
This chart explains the benefits of using a social media monitoring tool.
The power of your brand’s image on social media has definitively shifted to the hands of your customers. Use social media to keep your customers engaged, and resolve their queries at all times.
4. Train Your Support Staff
The success of your customer service through social channels depends on the quality of care you provide. While having frustrated customers is inevitable, what matters is timeliness, accuracy, and empathy – so train your support staff to respond on social media.
Your social media agents should read the emotional state of the customer. The response should have a friendly tone that shows your willingness to help. In other situations, it might be best to offer a formal apology while addressing the issue directly.
How do you decide whether to resolve the issue publicly, within a Tweet or comment, versus privately? The answer depends on whether your agent is trained or capable of drafting custom, error-free replies.
An ideal response by the social care team to a customer query would include:
- Identifying the issue
- Sharing links to supporting content
- Closing the loop with a thank you
- Including a personal touch – name, signature, or initials
- Maintaining a consistent tone across all conversations
Train your agents to ensure that the brand message, tone, and integrity are uniform at every point of the interaction. Trained agents are capable of handling 4-8 more queries received over social media than by phone, according to Gartner.
Genuinely help your customers, and they will become your biggest brand ambassadors.
5. Provide Multilingual Customer Service
Communication over social media has to surpass language barriers to reach global customers. Speaking to customers in their native language helps to build trust.
A report from Common Sense Advisory says that 74% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer post-sales support in their language. The same report found that obtaining support in their native language increased satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.
The 5 tips you should remember for providing multilingual customer support over social media are:
Select the Right Social Media Channel for your Support
The following chart by Statista shows that Facebook, with 2 billion active users, holds the major market stake. However, Instagram has fewer active users than WeChat. The most popular social media platforms in the APAC region are WeChat, QQ, and Qzone, each with more than 500 million users.
In the West, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are more widely used. The social network you use to provide support should largely depend on the region you’re targeting.
For example, for their Chinese customers, Coca Cola offers support on WeChat.
When choosing where to connect with customers, consider where your target market spends most of its time online.
Do Not Rely on Translation Tools
Google Translate and Facebook have made significant progress in auto-translation, but they cannot replace human translators; after all, machines can’t translate catchy taglines or emotions.
Human translators use context, wit, cultural differences, and empathy while communicating with customers. Without these elements, your audience will be less likely to connect with your brand.
Also, errors in translation by machines can be a costly affair. Take the example of the multinational bank HSBC. Their slogan “Assume nothing” was incorrectly translated to “Do nothing.” This cost them a $10 million rebranding.
Instead, use translation services to make sure your content relates to your customers.
Focus on Visual Content
Videos, graphics, and photos are a great way to communicate your brand message to an audience. Include subtitles with videos.
Consider Cultural Customs and Social Taboos
Drinking and smoking is a taboo in some cultures, while thumbs-up and the word “okay” are perceived differently in some countries. Even colors are perceived differently across the world, as demonstrated by this table.
The color red, for example, signals danger in North America and Western Europe. In the East, however, red could mean joy or happiness.
Most audiences will understand common visual cues and images, but always consider cultural norms and customs when providing online customer support.
Create Bilingual Posts
Instead of managing two separate accounts for English and French, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau creates separate posts for each language on his Instagram.
This shows equal respect for Canada's official languages, English and French. If you have a bilingual audience, instead of managing accounts in multiple languages, go for bilingual posts.
Provide multilingual customer service on social media. Native speakers take into consideration the context and cultural sensitivity of your posts, not just the word-to-word translations.
6. Go Out of Your Way to Satisfy Customers
Negative feedback is an open invitation for your brand to rectify its image and, more importantly, your relationship with the customer.
It’s up to you to make your customers feel that you’ve heard their issue and are willing to take further steps to make them happy.
Here are 4 tips your support reps can follow to proactively engage with customers on social media:
- Respond when they haven’t directly asked for your help. Answer comments and brand mentions that don’t necessarily require your response. This shows that you’re paying attention.
- Promote your customers when they retweet a happily resolved interaction. When the customer shares how helpful your team was, liking or retweeting this is equivalent to giving them a virtual hug.
- Consider letting the public know who is on duty and give your team a face. Creating "Agent Spotlights" or posting a team photo helps you connect the face of your brand with the team members behind it.
- Promote self-service. Consider sharing a weekly support-tip, accompanied by an easy-to-remember hashtag. Assign someone to update your company’s social media accounts when a new article is added to the blog, help center, or knowledge base.
Social proof, be it on the website or social media, increases trust and conversions for businesses that the customer wouldn’t meet physically, yet purchase their product or service.
Social Media Is an Easy and Cost-Effective Way to Provide Customer Support
There’s no denying the link between social media and business metrics. With so many people using social media, it’s a great place to collect customer insights, interact with customers, and offer stellar customer service.
You don’t need a global support team to manage your social media. Just follow the six strategies we mentioned above; they will make the seemingly difficult process of providing customer support over social media smooth, efficient, and less complicated.