In addition to sharing content or promoting the latest discounts, social media offers brands an another increasingly valuable mechanic to grow loyalty….customer service.

Today, if customers have product-specific questions or purchase problems, the first point of contact is the brand’s social media channel. Although it requires additional resources, customer service via social media is a brilliant mechanic to further bind customer and brand. As a central lever for customer satisfaction, what should that look like? What makes for efficient and effective customer service on social?

Avoid automated responses 

Firstly, programmed answers from chatbots are an absolute no-go. Even though many platforms such as Instagram or Facebook offer this function, it should only be used to indicate timely feedback. Above all, customers need to experience authenticy and feel their  individual needs or problems have been addressed personally.

Quick assistance

Prompt feedback is not always possible, but brands need to be aware that social media has changed expectations. There are no trading hours on social media and users expect immediate support, at any time of the day or night. For this reason, it is advisable not to have the Social Media team take care of customer service, but to have a separate support team with their own handle.

Channel selection & target groups

Where are your customers active? If you are addressing a younger target group on Instagram, a casual support via DM is recommended. On LinkedIn, users expect a professional tone and more in-depth information. It is also important to clearly distinguish whether you are addressing a B2B or B2C target group.

Take the work out of your customer’s hands

It is important to provide clear and goal-oriented support – be it images or text. The clearer the help, the more efficient the process is for the user and for you as a company. In turn a seamless process will further emphasises expert customer service and increases in customer loyalty.

Answer public criticism in a level-headed way

Questions, but above all critical remarks, are often communicated in the comment section under public posts on social media. It is important to react in a factual and friendly manner, after all, the whole community is reading along. This is another great opportunity for companies to prove that they know how to deal constructively with criticism and that they are willing to face it publicly. If you can even refute this criticism objectively, there is another benefit from customer service that the community also perceives.

Dragging the public into the private sphere

If sensitive topics or information are involved in a public conversation, it is advisable to pull those proactively into a private space. This step should also come proactively from the company and can happen on Instagram through a comment with a reference to a DM sent to the user by the support team. On Twitter and Facebook this can be done through the message button directly below the comment saving the customer another step and moving the conversation to a private level instantly.

Proactively engage in Social Listening

Last but not least, it is essential to proactively listen into the market and find out how users are talking about your company even before potential questions or complaints arise. This step is called Social Listening and delivers several advantages. First, it is an easy way to collate valuable impressions and opinions from users on your service or product, but it also shows that the company takes problems and opinions seriously even before users contact customer service. The service can “hijack” conversations and reply if necessary, to help with problems and thus convince users positively about the service. To do so, you can monitor and view all posts tagged with your own hashtag by using various tools. Large companies often work with keyword monitoring – even terms without a tag are found here.

Ultimately, well thought-out customer service that is geared towards customers and users can be a priceless commodity for the company. In addition building loyalty amongst the current cutimer base, it can also be a catalyst for enticing new customers. Depending on the social media channel, it is important to use the right tone in addition to helpful feedback. Here again: the customer is king.