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Using Social Media for Customer Interaction

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Julian Jackson's picture
writer and researcher BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Jul 8, 2021
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It is an unfortunate fact that many customers complain about companies via social media. This is becoming an important channel for businesses to interact with their buyers. Utilities may not have fully engaged with this medium as they are not aware of needing to, in the way that perhaps a clothing company has to if its products are criticized.

However social media does matter these days. Particularly if criticism goes unanswered. Following the social media customer service best practices is vital to supporting your user base and ensuring retention for the longer term. This article will consider:

 

  • how to leverage social media as a customer support channel
  • what to do with complaints and negative comments

  • tools to monitor customer service via social media

 

Social media platforms can be used to:

  • Boost company brand awareness

  • Market products or services

  • Listen to consumers' concerns


 

Social Media Customer Service Best Practices

It is important to reply as quickly as possible on social media. Particularly if complaints are circulating. One UK utility (who shall remain nameless) has got such a bad reputation for customer service that there is a Facebook page set up by disgruntled former customers! You don't want that to be your company.

Most forms of customer support via phone and email are not generally expected to be available 24/7. Unfortunately social media does not sleep and people can post at all hours. So they expect results fast. This means responding to inquiries, complaints, reviews, and general interactions as quickly as possible is the best social media customer service strategy. This may mean setting up a dedicated team with software tools (see below) to keep on top of this area.

The outcomes of a negative experience with a company can be:

  • The complainer tells their family and friends about the incident

  • They use another channel to escalate their concerns

  • Buy less from the company or switch service providers

  • Don't recommend a brand’s products or services

  • Complain publicly via social media


 

How to respond to this situation

The customer care team need to be swift, polite and respond to the customer's needs effectively. When a negative comment is posted, businesses tend to try to defend themselves. It is a good strategy to always meet negativity with positivity. This will defuse criticism and also help other readers to come onto the company's side.

The customer care team will need to have some tools available to assist them in this process.


 

Social Media Customer Service Tools

Monitoring customer service activity on Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms is best accomplished with tools such as:

Hootsuite

Buffer

Sparkcentral

Mention

These types of social media customer service tools offer businesses the ability to listen to consumers across multiple platforms. Accounts can be monitored by either a single customer care representative or a team, depending on resources available. These will help your customer care team engage with the constant stream of information without being overwhelmed.

One area where this can prove beneficial is broken streetlights. If someone passes a streetlight that is non-functional, they probably can't be bothered to try to find out which municipality or utility it belongs to, but if they tweet about it, good software will pick that up, especially if they use a hashtag that identifies the area.

Then not only can it be fixed – the reporting person can be thanked for a being a good citizen.

This will be reflected in a better profile as a socially responsible utility. So there is much to play for by becoming a social media friendly organization.

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