While you’re likely already using social media as part of your marketing strategy, you might not have considered how it can be used to support customer service. However, with customers constantly seeking more ways to interact with a brand, it’s important that social customer service is on your radar.
In this article, we’ll look at the social media tools you can use to support and improve your customer service strategy.
What are social media management tools?
Social media management tools are apps or software that allow businesses to manage their social media account/s from one place.
Each tool is different. Some social media management tools enable you to manage all of your social networks from one account. Others, however, are native to the application.
Most social media management tools allow the user to publish, monitor and manage social media platforms without needing to flip between tabs to open several social media platforms or different elements of one channel.
What are social media listening tools?
Social media listening tools, or social listening tools, are designed to monitor and analyse online conversations about a specific topic. This could be your brand, your competitors or a specific topic related to your organisation.
Users can set up the keywords they want to monitor and the platform will pull mentions of them from around the web. Social listening tools don’t just monitor social media mentions. They often include comments and posts on blogs, forums and websites where conversations are public.
Brands can use social media listening tools to analyse mentions of their specific topics to determine how well the company is performing and what their target audience thinks about them.
How can social media tools improve my customer service strategy?
Social media has grown to become an integral part of our daily lives; we use it for everything, from connecting with friends and researching new products to reading the news and interacting with groups aligned to our interests. It’s therefore no surprise that social media has become a place for consumers to also interact and engage with brands.
Your customers want to have more choice, and that includes how they access your brand. Having several ways to contact customer service is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an essential. If you’re not offering choices, you can bet on it that your competitor is!
There are several ways that social media can improve your customer service strategy. First, it enables you to offer more communication channels that open up engagement with your customers. As we mentioned above, people want to be able to contact you via their preferred method, which is increasingly social media.
By offering social customer service, and doing it well, you can also improve the perceived opinion of your brand. According to Statista, 59% of global consumers have a more favourable viewof brands that respond to customer questions or complaints on social media.
Supporting your customers with their queries on social media in real-time can help you to build better relationships with your audience, and if you engage publicly, this can be even more beneficial. By engaging with customers to resolve their queries, you’re not just helping them, you’re also showing anyone witnessing the exchange what type of brand you are.
Responding in a way that resolves a query quickly and exceeds expectations can be hugely beneficial for brand loyalty and perception. You might even be able to get some free advertising out of a positive exchange. For example, Sprout Social found that companies with a fast response time tend to get lots of shout-outs from happy customers.
This is great for marketing, especially if these interactions can be used as part of wider marketing campaigns. If you’re using social media as part of your customer service strategy, it’s a good idea to align your customer service team with your social media marketing team. This collaborative strategy ensures your teams are all on the same page, delivering a consistent message across social media posts and advertising, as well as customer service.
In terms of your customer service strategy and the benefits of using social media channels from an internal perspective, it’s a relatively cheap way to up your customer service game. In fact, customer service on social media can be up to 12 times cheaper than handling a request by phone!
What social media tools are available to support customer service?
The best social media tools will help you achieve several business goals, including enabling customer engagement and collecting valuable data or feedback. Here are some methods you can use to up your social customer service game:
If you’re keen to find out what your customer thinks about something, ask them! Polls are a fun and engaging way to discover more about your customer’s preferences. This could mean asking them if they liked your last blog post, or finding out what products they would most like you to launch next.
Each of the main social media platforms currently offers polls. Twitter was the first to launch the feature in 2015, with others following suit shortly after. Instagram’s polling feature appears in Stories, with users able to pose a question with two answers. Facebook also offers two-option polls, with the ability to add visual content like images or gifs.
Getting polls right can be invaluable for your business. In terms of customer service, for example, you can use polls to find out which social media platform your customers would most like to see a dedicated customer service account on.
This could help you to add social customer service into your strategy by offering users a choice and giving them a say in your decision-making process. After all, you only want to implement social customer service on the platforms where your customers will use it.
As consumers continue to use social media for engaging with brands, they’re also using apps like Facebook Messenger to directly message businesses with queries or complaints. This can be difficult to manage if you are receiving messages out of business hours.
One key feature of Facebook Messenger for customer service is the ability to add auto-responses. This feature takes very little time to set up and gives the customer a quick response.
Sometimes, chatbots can answer your customer’s question fairly easily, but on other occasions, it might need some more digging. In this case, you could set up an automated response to say, ‘our teams are unavailable at the moment, but we will look into your query as a priority during business hours’.
Another benefit of live chat apps and chatbots is the ability to integrate them into CRM systems. For example, Facebook Messenger can be connected to Zendesk in minutes, allowing the user to see Facebook messages alongside other support channels in one single, unified workspace.
Chatbots can also be used for gathering customer feedback after an interaction. Most live chat functions will allow you to send a short survey to the customer when a conversation has finished to understand how they found the support experience. This information can then be used to further inform your social customer service strategy.
We’ve already touched on social listening and how it benefits marketing, but it’s also invaluable for customer service. By using social listening tools, you can hone in on conversations people are having about your brand. You can also get involved with these conversations, using your influence to ensure positive experiences.
You might discover that a person is unhappy with a product they recently received from you because they have posted about it on Twitter, but not complained directly to you. In this instance, you could jump in on the conversation publicly and apologise for the inconvenience, stating that you would like to rectify the situation and could they message you with more information.
Without social listening, you wouldn’t have had access to this information and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to respond. Likewise, you can respond to people who are saying positive things about your business.
Utilising a social listening tool such as Sprinkler enables firms to filter conversations and engage with their customers exactly where they are online, helping to build valuable relationships and nurture their customer’s unique experiences.
Should I use a social media management tool?
In short, yes! Social media management tools are very beneficial for businesses, whether you are active on one, two or more social media platforms. With the ability to share content, schedule posts, respond to customers directly and actively monitor conversations about your brand, you can create a synergy between your social media and customer service teams. This is vital for delivering a truly unified and consistent brand to your customer base.
You must get it right though. Simply integrating a social media management tool into your strategy isn’t going to completely overhaul your customer service function. You need to ensure your teams are providing great social media customer service across every channel they use.
While social media tools can complement your customer service strategy, you should make sure your teams are providing the best support through your current channels before committing. Take Hootsuite as an example; although they offer the ability for businesses to respond quickly to their customers through social media, they still needed a solution that enabled them to offer better customer support through other methods.
If you’d like some more tips about how you can use social media for customer service, we’ve put together some guides to help you on either Facebook or Twitter.