In the last ten years, social media has dramatically changed how small businesses operate.
On the one hand, social media has been a tremendous gift to small business owners. With it, they can reach a wide audience for a fraction of what it cost a decade ago. It is easy to build and establish connections with loyal fans. It is easy to answer questions, publicize events and new products, and get feedback in real time. On the other hand, it often makes public the flaws in your business.
So, after a decade what have we learned, and how are small businesses managing social media these days?
A Decade of Social Media Customer Service Lessons
Customers expect fast responses. That means in order to respond in real time, you have to monitor the feeds regularly and have notifications sent quickly. How fast? According to a study done in 2015 by Eptica, you need to be prepared to respond to a Twitter comment in about an hour and Facebook complaints need to be handled in less than 6 hours. My guess is the expectation is even higher today.
If you are going to respond, you need to actually be helpful. We have all come to recognize the service bots. Those are the automated messages that pop up when you post a negative comment on Twitter. “We’re sorry you had a bad experience, please DM us.” The problem is that when you send the DM, they aren’t really helpful and the automated comments keep coming. These automated bots often make things worse.
While consumers may like turning to social media to resolve customer service issues, businesses of all sizes are actually backing away, trying to drive consumers to a private conversation. In this year’s social media survey less than 10% of all companies say they use social media to resolve customer service issues. This is down from a high of almost 40% a decade ago.
Why the decline? Trying to solve a customer service issue in a public forum is frequently a no win situation.
Social media customer service will continue to be a challenge for small businesses as they try to find the right balance. The best choice is to avoid resolving the issue publicly. While some people may be appeased by the offer, others will simply continue to complain, keeping the negative comments in the timeline.
Always be polite as you open a conversation. Acknowledge that they are unhappy. You don’t have to apologize if you don’t feel you are in the wrong, but let them know you are listening.
Then provide a clear, concise next step and take the conversation out of the news feed. Encourage customers to DM the details, provide them with a link or an email address or even a number they can call to work out a resolution.
Close the loop. Once you have resolved the issue ask the customer to post a revised comment to let others know you took care of the problem.
Like it or not, customers will reach out on social media and at the very least you need to be prepared to respond, letting them know how to contact you for resolution.
Curious about what else we learned in the 2019 social media survey? Download a copy today.