5 Ways to Offer Social Customer Service With Facebook

social media how to Are you answering customer concerns on Facebook?

Is offering social customer service important for your business?

Facebook is the number one social channel so it’s likely to be the first line of contact for your customers, for both praise and complaints.

Answering your fans, owning up to your mistakes and keeping your fans in the loop go a long way to building trust.

Read on to discover five tips that will make you a customer-service superhero on Facebook.

#1: Answer Quickly

If you have a dedicated customer support department, the team probably has a process in place that works well in traditional channels (for example, a guarantee to respond within 24 or 48 hours).

But on Facebook (and Twitter) if you let that much time go by before responding to customer inquiries or complaints, you do so at your peril. In the social media world, two days feels like two weeks!

postplanner customer service update

Post Planner often responds to customer questions and complaints within minutes or a few hours.

If you have a staff member who is monitoring your Facebook page throughout the day, it should be easy to respond to issues fairly fast. But if you’re a one-person operation, and it’s all up to you, you might have to set reminders to check your page a couple of times a day — first thing in the morning, early afternoon and once again in the evening.

My friends over at Post Planner do a really good job of keeping an eye on things (notice just how quickly they respond to questions).

#2: Use the Right Tools

Everyone is on Facebook, which makes it a natural place for customers to make requests, and yes, voice complaints.

If you have a social media manager watching your page(s) every day, you can head off potentially disruptive issues as they arise.

If you don’t have someone monitoring social channels daily, I suggest implementing software that syncs with Facebook (and while you’re at it, Twitter, too).

These tools let you manage private messages and posts, and keep track of requests and customer service questions without having to switch back and forth from support to Facebook.

For my company, I use Zendesk, but there are many other options such as Freshdesk, Salesforce Desk and HappyFox.

Here’s an example of how a company could use Zendesk for customer support. The first part of the image (from a business called Mondocam) is the customer’s request and the second is the support agent’s response:

mondocam customer service update

If you don’t have enough staff to monitor Facebook throughout the day, consider using a tool such as Zendesk.

#3: Be the First to Address Product Issues

What should you do when your brand has some not-so-great news to share, like service down time or when you’ve made a mistake?

‘Fess up. Fast!

paper update

If you ever have an “oops!” post, don’t delete it — acknowledge it. Your followers will respect you for it!

Use your Facebook page to spread the word about product issues. Demonstrate your willingness to take responsibility for mistakes and complaints.

There will always be a handful of customers and fans who are upset when they read the news, but remember, they’d be even more upset if they had discovered the issue on their own. Most customers will respect you for being proactive despite their frustration.

By the way, if you mess up, the worst thing you can do is delete a post in an attempt to cover your tracks (users are great at taking screenshots these days!). Instead, acknowledge your blunders with humor.

At ShortStack, we recently owned up to a mistake we made on a post we shared about Facebook’s new product, Paper. At the time, Paper had yet to be released and we asked our users if they had checked it out and what their thoughts were. Oops!

#4: Give Your Fans Updates

Some businesses are nervous about being on Facebook because they don’t want to be a target of public criticism. But if a brand is committed to transparency, the platform presents more opportunities than risks.

Here’s an example: Last December, Yahoo’s Mail service went down for a ton of their customers (maybe you were affected by the outage?). The problem started on the evening of Monday, December 9, and was completely resolved by the following Wednesday, December 18.

Obviously that’s a pretty lengthy outage and it was an issue that angered a lot of Yahoo’s users. Yahoo Mail dealt with the issue head on via their Facebook page.

For nine days, December 10-18, Yahoo Mail posted multiple status updates (like the one shown below) keeping their fans up to date with the service outage. They also responded to many of the comments left on their posts.

yahoo update

When Yahoo Mail had a lengthy outage, they kept their customers informed by posting multiple times on Facebook and responding to comments.

The lesson any business can learn from Yahoo Mail: Share as much information as you can with your users and keep them in the know even after the problem has been fully resolved.

#5: Be Generous to Your Fans

There are many ways to reward your fans and followers on Facebook.

Some brands offer their fans monthly exclusive deals (Kate Spade NY is a master of this tactic), while others host frequent giveaways that reward their fans (GoPro, the company that makes sporty digital cameras, gives away the company’s entire line every day). 

Another way to be generous to your customers is by giving them public props.

hubspot cover image

Use your Facebook cover photo as a place to acknowledge your power users.

Take HubSpot, for example. They occasionally feature customer testimonials as their Facebook cover photos, highlighting customers who have had success using the company’s software.

This promotes the customer’s business, and it’s flattering, too. Who wouldn’t want his or her business featured on the Facebook page of HubSpot, a company that has nearly 638,000 likes?!

The Bottom Line

Customer service, whether online or offline, is paramount to any brand’s success. Your customers’ first line of contact will usually be social media, so it’s important to monitor those outlets daily, even 24/7 if you can.

Keeping your fans in the loop and letting them know you’ve heard their requests, praise and complaints show your fans you care about their input. That’s an important step toward building loyal fans and super fans.

What do you think? Is Facebook a valuable customer support tool for you? Do you have advice on how to address customer concerns on Facebook? Please leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Jim Belosic

Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service software that allows businesses to create engaging campaigns for social, web and mobile. Other posts by »




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  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Nice post, Jim. I love your advice about giving fans updates when something is wrong. I think this kind of transparency is what really makes people trust a brand. At Sprout, we definitely keep users as up to date as possible regarding general issues or even individual questions. Showing that there’s a human “behind the curtain” gives users a new perspective on approaching the company with a question, comment or problem.

  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    #1 and #4 should be embedded in each marketer’s brains – not something that I would specifically point out separately in terms of customer service on Facebook. If you’re not responding to your fans on Facebook or giving them updates, you’re not really running a Facebook page. Another important aspect of customer service is allowing fans to reach out to you directly – so if they don’t want to make a Facebook post on your wall or if they don’t want to comment on your post asking for a question, setting up a quick Contact Us tab on the Facebook page is an excellent way for fans to reach out.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Great point about making it easy for fans to reach out to you directly, Avtar!

  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    Thanks Cindy – it definitely is important to make the customer experience a little more personal. With a few insurance and financial companies that we’ve managed Facebook pages for, people aren’t comfortable posting about their claims, financial troubles and what not on a public forum like Facebook and would rather take a private route – so setting up a Contact Us tab on the page was necessary!

  • Pingback: Become a customer service expert with Facebook | TRO SMITH

  • http://www.sovainfotech.com/ Sova Infotech

    Great tips Jim. Believe that answering replies quickly and acknowledging errors works a lot in bettering the relation between businesses and clients.

  • ctsmithiii

    Even though I’m not a heavy FB user, LI is my channel of choice, I reached out to Dell and KitchenAid to resolve customer service issues. Both did a good job of resolving my issues though Dell was considerably more timely as you might expect.

    Updates are key. When I worked on Wachovia Bank, we had “The Sundown Rule,” whereby the banker would call the customer at the end of the day with a status update if the question had not been answered or the problem resolved.

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Thanks for your comment @ctsmithiii:disqus. I really like the idea of “The Sundown Rule” and think its a great practice for businesses, especially a bank.

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Thanks @SovaInfotech:disqus!

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Great points @beta21:disqus. Of course we recommend having a contact us app on your Page seeing as that’s what our company does (we’re a software for building custom apps). Another thing we recommend is enabling the direct messages feature on Facebook. Some businesses disable it but we enjoy the direct and private line of communication it gives our fans.

  • http://www.shortstack.com/ Jim Belosic

    Thanks @sarahmordis:disqus, sometimes as businesses we forget that it’s okay to admit when mistakes are made. We’ve never admitted a mistake and not had our customers/fans appreciate the transparency.

  • ctsmithiii

    @Jim You’re very welcome. It made a nice TV commercial, that differentiated Wachovia from First Union, who later acquired them and NCNB, now B of A, “back in the day.”

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