Delivering a stellar customer experience is now of paramount importance. Not only do satisfied customers spend more, but 40% of customers that begin shopping with a competitor do so because they heard about the company’s good customer service.

So if your customers use social media (and most likely they do), your business needs to consider adding social media customer service to its client-facing channels.

What is social media customer service?
At the most basic level, social media customer service is the process of supporting prospects and customers using social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. This means accepting queries and requests for support via these platforms, and using those same tools to assist customers.

In many ways, social media customer service resembles your existing support channels. A tweet or comment is made to one of your social accounts by a customer, and your service agents then log the issue and respond in kind.

Why is social media customer service different?
Social media customer service, however, does differ from other channels for several reasons — and as a result, your service team will need to approach it differently.

Social media is public
Virtually every customer service request sent via social media is public — everyone can see the message. And in most cases, your responses are similarly public.

This could potentially present a PR problem if the question makes your company look bad, or if your agent’s response falls below the standards expected by customers. Your team must treat social media customer service as another opportunity to demonstrate your company’s commitment to excellence — even (perhaps particularly) for customer complaints.

People expect an instant(ish) response
Many businesses warn customers that email queries may take up to two days to get a response. But when it comes to social media support, customers expect an almost instant response.

One survey found that 24% of customers expect a reply within 30 minutes regardless of when the contact was made, meaning the same response time is expected at night and on the weekends as during normal business hours. So if your business is serious about delivering exceptional customer service using social media, you may need to create a 24/7 social team.

Failing to respond to messages quickly could actually deter customers, reducing engagement and potentially damaging your brand’s reputation.

Social media is limited
Responding to customer requests can be challenging due to the limitations of some platforms — the famous 140-character limit of Twitter makes it very hard to provide detailed guidance. Your agents need to be aware of these limitations, and know how best to get around these problems — like inviting the client to connect by email or chat, allowing you to share more information, more quickly.

And if you needed one final motivation to get social media customer service right, consider Accenture research findings that suggest customer churn is attributed to the poor quality of customer service.

Effective Social Customer Service

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