Social Studies: Customer Service in the Online World

Social Studies: Customer Service in the Online World

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One of the trickiest aspects of modern business is managing a social media presence. A customer-facing business, like retail or food service, can expect scores (sometimes hundreds) of posts, shares and comments each day. The rise of self publishing via the Internet has made it so that your customer service department is essentially open around the clock.

In the online realm, opinions are stated as facts and trolls seem to be everywhere. Yet, into this semi-toxic environment your business must wade, since the hazards are worth engaging customers and prospects.

It’s vital to have a plan for that engagement—and to make sure everyone who handles social media for you knows that plan. Here are a few key points to help get you started.

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Monitor proactively

It’s easy to set up accounts and put social media logos on your website. Keeping up with them is another challenge altogether. Assign monitoring and response tasks to a team member who already has social media experience—and a cool head. If nobody on your staff has those chops, outsource it or DIY. Either way, keep up with it. No modern business can afford deserted social media accounts.

Respond quickly

Recent findings by survey technology company Qualtrics reveal that more than half of people who have complaints post them on Facebook; over 70 percent of them expect a response within 24 hours. Your response need not be limited to complaints, though. Compliments, praise or suggestions usually merit a reply. One tactic that isn’t an option is silence. In the face of criticism it may seem the least troublesome path, but it’s a bad reflection on your business if your customers’ negative reviews or complaints aren’t met with a response from you. Hiding won’t make it go away.

Respond civilly

If a customer complaint is responded to with attitude or malice, your feed becomes a public argument . Be nice. Apologize, even if you are right. Bend over backward to make the situation right in your customer’s eyes. On social media, comments and reviews are public knowledge. Your other customers and prospects are watching.

Follow up

This is your way of proving you walk the walk to your customers. Make contact and work with them to fulfill the promise your business makes. Just like you would in the brick and mortar world.

Really, these social media tenets are much like the in-person approach. Good customer service means proactive, prompt, civil follow up—online or off.

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