Updated Dec 26 2019 :: by Alex Yumashev

Social media isn’t just a great way for SMBs on a budget to advertise their products and services, but to implement as an omnichannel customer support system that can manage itself with minimal guidance from support agents.

This doesn’t mean support agents get to sit back and relax and just make sure things are running smoothly. They have to be proactive in order to keep customers happy. We’re going to break down some ways agents can use social media to improve the customer experience.

Know When to Switch from Public Conversations to Private

Social Media is a great way to showcase interactions a business has with their customers, but some platforms have limitations that can actually inhibit support agents from providing a positive customer experience. Two platforms that come to mind are Twitter and Instagram. Knowing when to switch to direct messages or to another channel outside of social media will help agents work with customers in a more efficient, personalized manner.

The timing with this is key. One thing a support agent should look for is if the conversation is going south. If the customer has a complex issue that can’t be solved in one or two tweets, it would be a good idea to switch to a direct message where the customer an explain exactly what’s wrong in one shot and not worry about simplifying their problem when the subtle details need to be brought out.

The same thing goes for Instagram: if an issue can’t be resolved in a comment, make a point of direct messaging the customer or switch to a different channel entirely. Support agents need to keep in mind that other people can see how you react to a negative experience, and that reaction can spread quickly. Ask to send their issue in a direct message and not leave anything out.

Monitor and Respond to Customers on the Social Channels They’re Actually Using

This one should be a no-brainer, but we do have to mention it. Businesses have to be proactive on channels that their customers are already using. It doesn’t make sense to be active on Twitter if majority of the business’ customers are on Facebook or Instagram.

The major benefit of using social media for customer support is the fact that it’s a very personalized channel that can give businesses a unique perspective on a customer’s interests. They’re going to be more honest on social media than on a company page because the customer’s audience is their friends and family, and they don’t have to sound professional.

Because of this, businesses need to pay close attention to the social media platforms their customers use in order to see how they truly feel about products. This information is usually publicized without anyone asking for it, either. By monitoring these channels, businesses see other sides to their customers, and can learn to interact with them in a more personalized manner that will ultimately improve the customer experience.

Create Personalized Customer Experiences on Twitter with Gifs, Emojis, and Memes

As we’ve already said, social media is a personal platform that many people use strictly for connecting with other people. When people are bored at work, or at home, or with their friends, they turn to social media. If businesses want to be more proactive about using social media to improve social media, they need to adopt the language of their customers. If their customers are young, gifs, emojis, and memes are a great way to establish a personal connection.

Sympathizing and empathizing with customers are great ways for businesses to connect with their customers, but the problem is that customers look at businesses as not human. They don’t expect a support agent to use gifs and memes like their friends do. They lighten the mood and let the customer know that they understand the issue is important and it needs to be resolved quickly, but it doesn’t have to be the grind we all expect.

This of course requires an agent to be aware of how the interaction is going. It would not be wise to start sending memes if the customer is already annoyed. If that’s the case, then it would be best to do what we mentioned earlier, which was to make the conversation private. However, if a business’ goal is to let other customers know they’re in fact approachable, this is an effective way to improve the customer experience.

Create a Dedicated Handle and Hashtag for Support Inquiries

The whole point of social media is to be found, to be heard by others. This means it has to be easy for customers to find a business’ social media if the business hopes to use it effectively and gain valuable data from whichever platforms they monitor. This is particularly important for SMBs who don’t have a large, in-person customer base and rely on online sales to generate the majority of their revenue.

The first thing a SMB should do to improve the customer experience on social media is to create a dedicated support username. On Twitter or Instagram, this could be something simple as “NameofBusiness_Support”. This way, if the business already has a large social media presence and it’s difficult to keep track of all the notifications it receives in a day, significant support issues won’t get lost in all the chaos.

To streamline this strategy even more, SMBs can also ask their customers to use a specific hashtag for support-related issues. It doesn’t have to be generic either. Businesses can be creative here. Make it stand out so customers don’t forget it. Monitor the hashtag regularly to ensure each issue with the hashtag in it gets resolved.

Use AI Chatbots with Facebook Messenger as a Self-service Option

Chatbots are no longer the mindless robots behind your computer screen businesses use to simply avoid issues they’d rather not deal with. Chatbots are powered by AI now, meaning they’re much more capable of understanding complex issues, without losing that personal touch thanks to their natural language processing. They also integrate with social media like Facebook, so customers can reach out to companies as they update their status and look at memes.

This is a great example of offering customers an omnichannel support experience because businesses are now able to offer their customers a way to reach out using two channels at the same time. The customer is on Facebook, but the business is using a chatbot that integrates with Facebook Messenger, which can also direct customers to either a knowledge base if they want a self-service option or to a phone number or email where they can talk in person.

Chatbots offer multiple solutions quickly, can be programmed to use and understand natural language, can be taken over by an agent if the issue appears to be too complex, and can integrate with social media, which makes it a necessary tool for businesses of any size to implement.

The Final Word

Social media is a treasure trove of valuable data and insights for businesses of any size who wish to improve the customer experience by personalizing and responding quickly to every interaction. There are tons of ways support teams can use social media to improve customer experience, but these tips can be easily implemented and require minimal effort to maintain.

About the author: Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP -- trusted VoIP comparison resource that helps companies understand and choose a business communication solution for their specific needs. Reuben assists SMBs align business strategy with culture and improve overall corporate infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter @ReubenYonatan

'How Your Support Team Can Use Social Media to Improve Customer Experience' was written by Alex Yumashev
Alex Yumashev
Alex has founded Jitbit in 2005 and is a software engineer passionate about customer support. He holds a degree in computer science and is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer

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