Your business relies on the goodwill of customers to succeed and to grow. So it’s important to understand your customers’ expectations of service, and how it’s delivered to them. For example, even if you are a tiny business, your customers will expect Amazon-levels of service across all channels, because that’s what they’re used to. And that means you need to understand how to manage social media enquiries, complaints and comments.

The go-to option

For many customers, as soon as they know you have a social media presence, it’s the first place they go to ask you a question. That’s usually because they expect it to be quicker than trawling through your website, or calling your offices. Social media is all about connections and two-way conversations, and you’ll enhance your brand reputation by responding to queries quickly and efficiently, and damage it by ignoring customers or being unhelpful.

Managing social media for small business and entrepreneurs may seem time-consuming and confusing. But with a good understanding of why you’re using social media, a focus on the channels that your customers are using, and a strategy for responding to customer enquiries that aligns with your brand, it can be one of the most effective ways to deliver great customer service.

All this sounds great, but where do you start? And what if you haven’t got the time? Will you need to outsource customer support on social media? Whether you’re going it alone, or you’re thinking of outsourcing customer services, the first thing you need to do is plan.

Build a strategy

This is the most important place to start, because it sets out your stall for whoever is managing your social media channels. Your strategy should include:

Which channels you are managing for customer service – this will help you to direct customers to that channel from your website, or when they buy from you. For example: ‘Questions about your product? Check out our FAQs or contact on @CustomerServices.’

Your target response time to queries – this will allow you to make a commitment to your customers about response times, and also give you a point of measurement to see how well you’re managing your customer service overall.

How to prioritise enquiries – some enquiries can be answered directly and publicly, helping others to see how responsive you are, and to build confidence with individual customers. Other queries, however, may be more sensitive or complex, and are best dealt with offline. In this situation, you can respond asking the customer to send you a private message and you can then move into managing their query in line with your general customer service standards.

Consider writing some standard replies – even if your social media service is outsourced, you can control the tone and feel of the replies you give to customers. Look at the queries you get most often and have a range of easy, customer-friendly responses you can use. This will save time and ensures a consistent approach.

Keep an eye on query trends – social media customer service isn’t just about having a friendly conversation with your customers. It’s also a great way to look at trends in the way people are buying from your business, or thinking about your brand. If the same question keeps coming up, perhaps you need to change something on your website, or improve your ordering process? That way, you’re proactively using your social media feedback to improve your customer experience.

Be personal – some of the customer service posts that go viral do so because there’s a clear personality attached to the interaction. People want to deal with people, so by ending a customer service tweet or Facebook comment with the first name of your social media manager, you are creating a better connection with your customer and they will automatically feel more engaged with the business.

Still not sure? Why not check out how some of the big brands manage social media customer care? You’ll soon see what you like and what you don’t – and what will work for your business. And If you need help with planning your social media customer care strategy, or to manage your social channels, call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.


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