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