How to Use Social Media for Customer Service: Best Practices & Tools

April 14, 2023
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8
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how to use social media for customer service

Social media has become a crucial customer contact channel for many businesses.

In 2023, the number of consumers using social media is predicted to reach 4.89 billion - equating to more than half of the global population.

It’s why more and more brands are utilizing social media as a tool for customer service, as well as for marketing and increasing engagement.

But in order to deliver exceptional customer support via social platforms, you need to implement the right tools and adhere to a number of key practices.

Fortunately, we’ve put together an essential guide to help you succeed in your social media endeavors. We’ll cover:

  • Why use social media for customer interactions?
  • The best practices for social media customer service
  • The best tools and channels for social media customer support 
  • How to get started with social media customer service
agent live chatting with customer

Why use social media for customer conversations?

The rise of social media as a tool for digital engagement has made it an increasingly popular channel for customer service interactions.

Social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) provide a convenient and accessible platform for customers to connect with brands, seek solutions to their problems, and share their concerns or experiences.

It’s why more than 80% of consumers use social media to contact and engage with businesses.

The use of social media for customer support can benefit businesses in a number of ways, including:

  • Improved customer relations: Interacting with customers via their preferred social channel creates a more personal connection between brand and consumer, leading to stronger relationships and lasting customer loyalty.
  • More brand advocacy: Responding to customer complaints on social media has been shown to increase brand advocacy by up to 25%.
  • Increased revenue: Engaging in customer service requests via social media brings between 20 and 40% more revenue per customer.
  • Reduced costs: The use of social media for customer conversations can decrease the cost per contact by as much as 83%.
  • A better public image: By publicly assisting and engaging with customers on social platforms, businesses can build a positive brand image and reputation.

Ultimately, social media is a must-have if you want to offer digital customer service in a way that benefits your business and aligns with the behaviors of the modern consumer.

Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, SMS, Instagram

How to succeed at social media customer service: Best practices & examples

It’s clear that social media can be an invaluable medium for supporting and engaging customers.

But if you want to succeed at social media customer service, you need an effective strategy.

Below, we’ll detail the key best practices that’ll help you deliver an exceptional customer experience on all your social platforms.

1. Track your social media mentions

Tracking social media mentions is the process of monitoring any posts or comments made about your business on social platforms.

There are several techniques that businesses can use to monitor social media mentions. One common method is to set up alerts for brand mentions using social media monitoring software like Hootsuite.

This will ensure that you’re immediately notified whenever your brand is mentioned on social media, allowing you to respond quickly and engage with customers in real time.

Monitoring social media mentions is important for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it allows businesses to identify and respond to customer feedback promptly. By doing this, brands can build trust with customers and demonstrate a commitment to customer service.

Secondly, social media monitoring enables brands to gather valuable insights into customer perceptions and behaviors. This information can be used to inform your marketing, sales, and customer service strategies.

And finally, monitoring social media mentions enables businesses to identify and respond to any potential crises or negative sentiment quickly.

By tracking brand mentions, businesses can identify these issues early and take proactive steps to address them before they escalate, thus preventing negative publicity.

magnet attracting digital customers

2. Always be listening & responsive

In the fast-paced world of social media, customers expect to be heard and responded to quickly.

According to statistics from Hubspot, 39% of consumers expect businesses to respond on social media within 60 minutes - but the actual average response time is about five hours.

This indicates that there’s room for improvement in this area and an opportunity for you to get ahead of your competitors.

A fast response time will boost your brand image and keep consumers happy. It'll also demonstrate that you value your customers and their experiences.

Frustrated customers who haven’t received a prompt reply are likely to take to the keyboard and leave negative public comments on your social media pages.

This must be prevented at all costs - after all, no brand wants to gain a reputation for slow or poor customer service.

Businesses can improve their social media response time by:

  • Setting up notifications for brand mentions, comments, and direct messages from customers on social media platforms.
  • Assigning a dedicated social media team to respond to customer messages, comments, and posts.
  • Deploying a social media chatbot to provide automated customer support for common queries (more on this later).

It’s important to note that being responsive on social media doesn’t just mean answering questions and addressing complaints. It also involves acknowledging and thanking customers for their positive reviews and posts.

By responding to positive feedback as well as negative, you’ll show appreciation for your customers and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

customers surrounding clock graphic

3. Be present across multiple platforms

The most successful brands are present and active on multiple social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc).

It’s important for businesses to leverage numerous social channels for several reasons:

  1. Scope of reach: The use of multiple social media platforms increases a business’s reach by giving them access to a larger audience. Different social platforms have different user demographics, allowing businesses to reach a wider range of potential customers and increase brand awareness.
  2. Customer preferences: Today, the average consumer interacts with 6.6 social platforms. By being present across multiple social networks, you’ll be able to meet customers wherever they are via their preferred digital touchpoints.
  3. Competitive edge: Being active across all social media platforms is essential for staying relevant in today’s digital landscape. Customers expect businesses to have a strong social media presence, so brands that fall short in this area risk falling behind their competitors.

For the best social media customer service outcomes, you should aim to provide a consistent and seamless customer experience across all the platforms you choose to utilize.

happy customer enjoying omnichannel options

4. Keep an eye on your competitors

One of the best things about social media is that it allows you to see what other businesses are doing.

Through research, you can gain valuable insights into your competitor’s social media customer service strategy. You can read through their posts and comment threads to get a sense of how they engage and support customers on social channels.

This will also reveal how consumers feel about other brands in your industry - plus any areas of weakness that you can use to your own advantage.

You can even identify what other businesses aren’t doing on social media, giving yourself more ways to differentiate your brand and gain a competitive edge.

All the information you obtain from social media research can be utilized to shape and develop your own practices, strategy, and customer service goals.

social media livestream marketing and branding

5. Create internal social media guidelines

As with any customer engagement channel, it’s imperative that you have internal guidelines in place specifically for social media.

This practice ensures that your customers receive the best service possible by creating consistency across your social platforms and optimizing efficiency.

Your social media guidelines should align with your customer service strategy and brand values. They can cover things like:

  • Answers to common queries
  • Procedure for escalations and handling sensitive customer information
  • Maximum response time for each social platform
  • Style and tone of voice for public posts and messages to customers

Having these guidelines in place will streamline your social media processes and help you deliver optimal customer support.

young man wearing headset

6. Provide self-service options

Self-service channels empower customers to find the information they need to resolve issues by themselves.

And, as 81% of consumers want businesses to offer more self-service options, providing them is an easy way to boost customer satisfaction.

Businesses can offer several self-service options to customers on social media, including:

  • FAQ base: Include a dedicated FAQ section on all your social media profiles where customers can easily find solutions to common problems. This enables customers to quickly find the information they need without having to contact you.
  • Content: Create blog posts, tutorials, and how-to guides that explain how to use your products/services. These can be shared on social media accounts as self-service resources for customers to refer to.
  • Chatbots: As we touched on earlier, a social media chatbot can be implemented to provide instant assistance for common queries.
  • Community forums: Social media forums give customers a space to share their experiences and assist each other with any issues. This helps to build a digital brand community while reducing the demand on your customer advisors.

With the addition of self-service options, you’ll be able to decrease the workload for your customer support teams and improve the customer experience.

customer self-servicing on laptop

7. Continuously monitor performance

It’s important that you don’t become complacent with your social media customer service - and that’s where performance management comes in.

Monitoring your social media performance and continuously striving to improve is essential for long-term success.

You can achieve this by tracking your performance metrics and KPIs, for example:

  • First Response Time
  • Average Response Time
  • First Contact Resolution Rate
  • Average Resolution Time
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

It’s also best practice to actively collect customer feedback and use this valuable resource to assess performance and inform your goals.

You can achieve this by inviting customers to partake in polls or surveys on your social platforms, as well as monitoring ratings/reviews and customer sentiment.

By measuring and monitoring performance, you can determine the overall success and effectiveness of your social media customer service strategy.

You’ll be able to identify the areas in which you excel and those that need improvement.

contact center agent performance management

Essential tools & messaging channels for social media customer support

Successful social media customer service requires more than adhering to best practices - you also need to implement the right technologies.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the essential social media customer support tools.

Live chat

Live chat is a must-have communicative tool for social media customer support.

Thanks to this convenient channel, customers can interact with your brand in real-time - allowing your customer support teams to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

What’s more, live chat customer service enables your agents to provide personalization and a more humanized digital experience. 

It’s why 75% of consumers prefer live chat over any other digital channel.

With the Talkative platform, you can integrate our live chat solution with a range of social messaging apps, including:

You’ll also be able to handle all customer interactions within one unified inbox.

social media live chat messaging examples

Video chat

While live chat is a highly efficient and convenient communication channel, it’s not always appropriate for more complex issues and high-value customers.

In these cases, businesses need to be able to go beyond text-based chat support and offer a more consultative approach to customer service.

Video chat rectifies this issue by enabling face-to-face customer interactions in the virtual realm.

As a primary feature of our platform, Talkative’s innovative video chat can be integrated with the same social channels as our live chat - meaning that any chat interaction can be effortlessly escalated to a video call at any point.

It means your customers will be able to access and enjoy premium video chat customer service through all their favorite social platforms.

With the addition of video, your agents will be able to provide an interactive and personalized experience that mirrors in-store customer service more closely than any other digital channel.

Want to get started with live chat and/or video chat today? Why not sign up for a free trial with Talkative – no credit card required.

video chat for social media

Chatbots for social media

Undoubtedly, live chat and video chat are both fantastic tools for social media customer service.

But these channels require an available human agent - and that isn’t always realistic or possible.

There will be times when a customer needs assistance outside your operating hours or while all your advisors are busy.

And that’s where chatbots and virtual assistants prove essential.

Social media chatbots are available around the clock to provide your customers with immediate answers and support.

They’re particularly useful for handling common issues and FAQs. In fact, statistics indicate that chatbots can resolve queries around 69% of the time - leaving your agents with more time for the customers who need them most.

With Talkative, you can deploy an AI-powered virtual agent to assist customers across a variety of social messaging channels - the same as our live chat and video chat.

Our chatbot can also initiate intelligent hand-offs to a human agent in cases where the customer’s issue proves too complex for automated support to resolve.

By deploying a chatbot, you can take your social media customer support to the next level by ensuring that no customer message ever goes unanswered.

chatbot and AI interactions graphic

Social media analytics

If you want to optimize customer service and effectively monitor performance, you need to invest in software that tracks analytics for your social media interactions.

By analyzing this data, you can better understand your customers, improve your customer service strategy, and make data-driven decisions.

In addition to our social media contact channels, the Talkative solution also provides a variety of tools for social messaging analytics and metrics. 

These include:

With these capabilities, you’ll gain access to a wide range of contextual and historical data, as well as a long list of reporting tools to help you perfect your social media customer experience.

social media analytics

The takeaway: Engage more social media customers with Talkative

There’s no doubt that social media has become a vital customer service channel for many businesses.

With the right tools and strategy, you can leverage social platforms to provide exceptional support and enhance the digital customer experience

But in order to truly get the most out of your social media tools and channels, you also need the right technology to facilitate them.

That’s where Talkative comes in.

Our platform provides a complete suite of engagement channels that’ll empower your agents to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with all your digital customers.

As a key feature of our platform, Talkative’with a myriad of features to help you engage and support more customers - from AI assist tools to canned messages, seamless escalation between channels, and much more.

Want to learn more? Book a demo with us today and discover how you can power premium social media customer service with Talkative. 

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