Ideas on Customer Care for Social Media / by Jon Meyer Meyer

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By now, you have read tons and tons of blog articles on Social Care (aka, Customer Care on social media channels). Many companies know there is tremendous value in support triage and proactive responses for keyword mentions on social media.  Depending on which report you review, it’s clear that Social Customer Care will be a major consideration in your Customer Support experience for some time. 

Some customers choose social media because it’s easy: they can reach out via their mobile device and get instant support. For others, it’s a great place to vent and try to publicly spread their dissatisfaction. If it's exceptionally good or bad, there’s also the chance it will be shared on Reddit, which will give your company a harp or a pitchfork.

Below are some tricks (some are pretty standard in this field but are mentioned for first timers/growing companies) that I found most valuable when doing this work while managing support requests on social media for some companies with 150 million+ user bases. 

1. Pre-shorten your top 50 links (knowledge base, app stores, update pages, policy pages) for Twitter and Facebook and share it with anybody who has access to company social media. This is Marketing, PR, etc. It'll help them as well to understand top issues and have answers if needed. Preferably, your shortened URLs can be tracked for metrics reporting. If you’re really fancy, separate them by social channel to gauge long-term performance and click-throughs. (Note: I prefer this as to just using referring pages in an analytics tool. You want to compare the life of a support generated social link as opposed to a helpful community member who did some digging in your company’s FAQ/knowledge base). Like and good FAQ, be sure to keep it updated weekly!

2. Post hours of operation for social: Put up your hours of operation, not just for customers to reference, but also for your agent’s reference to customers. This helps reduce traffic during off hours, but also reduces stress off the agents as it becomes a company statement they can fall back on for testy customers. Of course, for those who need help i-m-m-e-d-i-a-t--l-y, you might want to consider an off-hours policy for critical weekend or off-hour issues if 24/7 support isn't available.

3. Escalate publicly, handle privately. This is common sense and repeated often in these lists. If you have been unsuccessful to solve the issue with a link, require deeper trouble shooting, or private information (email, full name, phone number, etc.), it's a no-brainer to handle this offline via direct or private message. However, you will need to state clearly that this is the best way to resolve the customers issue publicly for a couple of reasons:

A) Twitter users need to follow your handle to engage in a direct message. 

B) Facebook messages from non-friends go into an "Other" box that does not trigger an alert and will be easily missed.

If you do not see a follow up from the customer via a private message, remind them that you are awaiting their response to know you are interested in answering their question. 

4. Proactively follow up. A big part of that is making sure customers have been taken care of is to simply ask. One of the best ways to do this is request a follow up from the customer. There are two scenarios for this: 

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A) After submitting your first response, ask them to let you know how it worked. This tells the customer and your followers know you are not afraid of a conversation to resolve the issue.

B) If there is an escalation involved, confirm you escalated their issue *and*, depending on your service level agreement and team handling it, let them know it's ok to reach out to you again for a progress update. In most cases, they will be handled perfectly by your team. However, the customer also knows they can reach out to you first if they need more assistance.

5. Fast empathy. Empathy is critical to relationship building with your customers who contact you. This is a great future topic for support in general. But for Twitter and Facebook, I prefer a statement of acknowledgement and a follow question or solution. I'm not a fan of being too cute and fuzzy (again, another post), but remember you are acknowledging their bad experience, which can be totally unrelated to your brand or product.

In most cases, a quick "Yikes, that doesn't sound fun. Have you tried this yet? <link to solution>“ or "I'm sorry to hear that. Give this a shot and let me know: <link to solution> or "Not a problem. Private message me your email so I can get your refund started." Whatever fits your company's voice is the best route, but a little levity goes a long way for all involved.

Note: If you have any sort of cross-selling, up-selling, or retention initiatives in play, save that for the escalation agent and avoid the topic in social media conversation unless that is what the customer is asking about.

6. Get cozy with Marketing. In many cases, Customer Support and Marketing will share the same handle or page. Each department should talk about their roles to customers and who answers which types of questions. It’s easy for each department to fall over each other for an angry customer, but it’s equally important that the proper skill set works to address customers’ issue. This agreement should be clearly laid out in the company’s internal social media guidelines, with an escalation process between departments and contacts, and signed off by department heads for alignment. If your company is medium to enterprise, Marketing has a very close relationships with PR and Legal as well, so make sure they have been included in the conversation. 

Important Note: It’s not uncommon for Marketing to feel obligated to engage customer issues. While simple questions and escalations are easy pickings (especially with the Top 50 spreadsheet mentioned in #1), any follow up questions/comments are where things can get messy. Ideally, Marketing should let Support handle all support-related queries. 

I’m sure everybody has their own ideas and best practices to add to this. What should be added to this list? Feel free to comment or tweet to share your thoughts.