Some things are inevitable. Among them is the intersection of your small business social media marketing and customer service. The more you engage with your customers through social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – you’ll inevitably find more customers utilizing these channels for service-related questions and comments.

The appeal of using social networks for customer service in lieu of the more traditional channels stems from a number of factors. Social media packs a punch. On social media, everything is public, including a complaint or concern. Following a bad experience with a customer service department, customers may feel they have more leverage by taking their issues social.

Social also is convenient. Many consumers are active on their social media accounts throughout the day. And social is real time. Customers know that many companies routinely monitor their social media accounts and are quick to respond to a comment or post. According to a report from Oracle, over half (51 percent) of Facebook users and over 80 percent of Twitter users expected to receive a response to their question or concern within 24 hours or less.  By contrast, an online submission to customer service can take 24 hours or longer for a response.

Maintain best practices   

Customer service feedbackWherever your small business is on the path to social customer service – well along or just getting started – here are some tips to get best results:

  • Dedicate a person or team: Appoint someone or a team to monitor all of your social media efforts.  If it needs to be a shared responsibility, create a team schedule with dedicated days for each person. Create a plan for handling issues and make the action items for everyone involved in the process clear.
  • Set expectations: You are more than likely unable to provide 24×7 monitoring of your social media channels, so let your community know. In your Twitter bio or Facebook about section, list hours of operation when customers can expect someone will be monitoring posts.
  • Take exchanges offline: Oftentimes it’s best to take the customer service inquiry or issue offline. In such cases, direct the individual to private message you or the appropriate person, send an email, or call into the company at a number you provide. It may be the customer service line.
  • Be proactive: Reach out to customers before problems start. If you know there will be a problem in expediting orders because of bad weather in some part of the country, let your customers know.
  • Track feedback: Social media is a great vehicle for listening to your customers. Track their feedback and learn from it. It may mean making some changes in your company and products but it will strengthen the customer bond and build demand for your brand.  You may even uncover some great new product or service ideas!

How are you using social media to improve customer service?