How you respond to questions and enquiries on social media will somewhat be dependent on your industry sector (for example, business or public sector) and your organisations own unique values. It is important to define how social media users in different teams or departments across your organsations should behave when responding to enquiries on corporate social media accounts. Ensure that the tone of voice for all communications is consistent and reflects your organisations values, to help create a seamless social customer service experience for your customers or community.
Here's our helpful list of key points to consider when developing your approach to social customer service enquiries. To learn more, you can download our free guide to managing social customer care here.
Defining your goals
Although obvious, it is often an area that is overlooked or not made clear to the first response teams. What is the overall goal you are hoping to achieve from your customer response activity? Grow positive sentiment towards your brand? Reduce customer churn? Add value to your offer? Whatever the goal, it is important to define the key metrics against which the success of your efforts will be evaluated.
The handling of customer service enquiries needs a particular skillset - namely patience, persuasion, attention, and not forgetting the ability to close! These soft skills must be supported by an organisational structure that allows for training on the product / service. Also consider using social media collaboration and workflow tools to forward messages internally through to the most appropriate social media account / user who can then respond. For example, if a customer submits a question to your main corporate Twitter account, you can automatically alert your relevant team member and then respond to the question from a different local or regional Twitter account.
Tone of voice
The tone of your social media communication should mirror your other branded communication channels. This needs to be translated into the practicality of the social media environment, where you are faced with different challenges such as only having 140 characters to convey a message on Twitter, the use of ‘Facebook English’ which is less formal than other written communications, or when to include links to supporting content. And of course, defining if / when it is appropriate to convey sentiment using emoji, gif images or memes, versus something more formal.
Speed of response
Research by Edison found that 42% of customers who complain on social media expect a response from the organisation in 60 minutes! Of course, solving the customers problem might take several hours or even days, but the initial acknowledgment of the customers complaint should to be fast. So, it's important to set the expectations of all social media users who are representing your organisation on social media, and then track actual response time metrics. A social media management tool like CrowdControlHQ allows you to track your social media response times.
Accuracy of response
This is one of the most critical elements of the response. One of the biggest complaints customers have about customer service responses on Twitter is the issue of accuracy. The volume and velocity of inbound social media messages can often put marketing, digital or customer service teams under pressure. Those keen to maintain their ‘speed’ will often compromise on the quality of their response to the customer or member of the public, which can damage the customer's experience in a very visible way. Consider implementing suitable processes, workflows or even automation using a social media platform, so that you and your team can prioritise who and how to respond to each enquiry so that quality is not compromised for quantity.
We know that some customers arrive in the social media channel already frustrated with your customer service response. Knowing when to take a conversation offline is a critical skill of any effective social customer service team. Typically you would only resort to moving a customer offline when a) there is too much information needed to accurately scope out the problem or b) where there is personal information at stake.
Why? Research shows that 76% of conversations end when asking customers to move offline, and if you have not at least acknowledged the inconvenience to the customer of moving the conversations offline, you can erode customer satisfaction.
What happens in the event of a crisis that prevents the organisation operating as usual? Defining how you will respond on social media in a crisis is really important to reducing any potential negative impact on your reputation when it goes wrong. For example, during the emissions scandal the international VW team were severely criticised for going ‘silent’ during the crisis. At a time when their loyal customers needed them most, they were unavailable to reassure them.
Protocols will vary but generally they will all include: active listening and acknowledgment of the problem, confirming where appropriate the error and where appropriate the cause. The next step is to apologise for the experience and inconvenience caused, and then define the steps that the brand is going to take to put it right! It is also essential that customer response teams know how to behave in the event of a crisis. For example, in a crisis there can be some brave and loyal brand advocates who step in to counter argue your case for you (as there were for VW).
To learn more about crisis communications, watch our video introduction to social media crisis management on YouTube here.