By Caroline Henley

October 30th, 2015

Are you setting the right expectations for your company’s social customer service?

Defining your support team’s business hours is crucial. First off, you’re setting expectations within your team. Second, you’re letting your customer base know how long a query might hang out in the ether.

If your team all works from one tool, you should get an overall view of how fast your social handles effectively respond to fans during your set business hours. Companies use this data in various ways—to reward the fastest-responding employees, or to let customers know how long, on average, it takes for the company to get back to questions.

For info on setting up a social customer service team, check out Falcon’s Social Customer Service Handbook.

Here’s how to set expected wait times based off the business hours your customer support team covers.

Set Up Company Business Hours
At Falcon Social, we share business hours between Copenhagen and New York—so our social team is always available from 8:30 am to 11:30 pm CET during the weekdays.

social media response time

On the weekends, we respond to customer questions, comments, and requests—but we’re sure to be clear that, as it’s off-hours, it might take a little longer to hear back from us.

Communication will come in around the clock, and a plan needs to be in place to deal with it and route it to the person who will eventually respond.

I recently ordered a unique service at the beach: for $200, I hired a company to handle all the logistical elements of lighting a big bonfire. They would pick up a bonfire permit at the local town hall, set up the space, and supply a certain amount of firewood. They even promised to clean up the ashes at the end of the night. (I know, I’m a sucker.1) The company was in constant contact…until I paid the money—then they went silent. I called and tweeted, called and tweeted. Two days later, they let me know the office had been closed during the time I was trying to reach them.

If the beach service company had displayed their own business hours loud and clear, I would have been at peace with my purchase. But after dropping a substantial amount of money, I was a wreck, thinking I made a huge mistake—and I left a wake of negative feedback across social media for their future customers to consider.2

Showcasing Your Up-to-Date Wait Time Metric
Think about the end-users: if fans ask questions through social, do they know when to expect a response?

KLM is known for its dynamic cover photos, splashing its always up-to-date average wait time for customers. This is a fantastic way to set expectations—but as a company that’s ahead of the game, they had to come up with a very manual work-around.

In fact, one fatigued community manager once shared an exasperated moment.

social media response time

Facebook is rolling out its own metric for average response time and is publicly displaying it on fan pages. The network is also rolling out reply options to pages that navigate their fans straight to a direct message, making room for more personal, private, one-to-one customer care.

Now that the networks are placing more importance on response times by adding them as a public metric, KLM’s community manager’s life will be easier—and he or she will be able to put more energy into the end-goal of fostering total customer satisfaction.

Invest in 1:1, Cross-Channel Support
Companies that invest in cross-channel customer support are seeing an increase in customer retention, and from there, revenue growth.

Our own customer, Sweetwater Sound, connects its customers’ social profiles to its overall sales database, so when they talk to a customer on the phone, they know exactly what interactions they’ve already had with the person across social media.

Start by setting up business hours at your organization, and letting your customers know what to expect–don’t be the beach bonfire guys!–and you’ll be well on your way to pleasing your fans on social.

1. In my defense, the package also included s’more ingredients for six people, and six light sticks.
2.The bonfire man pulled through in the end, with six hours’ worth of wood. He did not, however, supply the promised s’mores and light sticks.

Effective Social Customer Service

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