6 tips for using social media as an effective customer support tool


Nothing beats an awesome customer service. Nothing. In today’s fast paced world, too many businesses are losing their customers to competitors with better customer support. What makes it more crucial is the fact it only takes a click to lose your customer to a competitor – a soft click.

The social web presents itself as a great tool for customer support. Sadly, this is an aspect often neglected by most businesses. Most get buried in tactics to fans/follower, traffic building and sales and the likes – limiting the use of social media.

If used effectively, social media platforms can serve as, not just a driver of sales, traffic etc, but also an effective tool for customer support. Today, I share 6 tips on using social media as a support tool:

  1. Establishing channels: Your customers have the right to reach you via any platform you have a presence on. It’s rude to tell them “we’re not active on Facebook, please…” Hell No! Why then did you create a Facebook page? Why did you roll out ads to acquire fans? Only to drop unprofessional one-liners when it’s time to respond to the needs of your customers? No! I’ve seen this quite a number of times, and it can be a frustrating experience for customers especially when they don’t know other means of reaching the business, or when all else fails. Facebook launched the message feature for pages for a reason – customer support. The feature can be used to develop a more personal relationship with your audience. Reply them, right there and try as much as possible to get the issue solved. If you don’t and your competitors do, it’ll only take a click to lose that customer.
  2. Reply everyone: Funny that some businesses select the kind of queries they respond to? Who does that? I’ve seen some accidental social media managers ignore the question of a tweep because (s)he has just 10 followers. So, he/she can do little in destroying the image of the business. How unprofessional can it get? When did friend/follower count become a tool of measuring genuineness? It’s important to understand that humans beings are behind every twitter handle, so, ignoring anyone’s question is actually denying a customer his right. It leads to dissatisfaction and you may end up losing that customer.
  3. One statement doesn’t fit all: Your customers hate canned responses. They hate to see you use one statement while responding to all complains. The issue with using one statement for all is that it makes you look plain stupid. Two, your customers get used to it, predict your words, and…third, it eventually makes your handle/page less human. People want conversations about their issues. Before using that one-liner, apologize for the inconveniences caused, then ask for more information about the complain made. Right there. Craft a response that shows you understand the issue reported, not an old fashion sentence, please.
  4. Use emoticons to express feelings: Emoticons were introduced for a reason. Using emoticons in tweets/posts shows an angry customer you care, even if you don’t. For instance, adding a sad emoticon – “:(“, expresses your feeling about the issue. This is simple psychology. Master the use of emoticons. Your audience use it every day, afterall. This is one thing I don’t see most corporate handles doing effectively. Adopt it, top the competition.
  5. Ask questions: Never assume you understand what the problem is. Even if you do, pretend like you don’t know and ask your customer to describe what the issue is. Ask for specifics. For instance, if a site visitor complains about not being able to load your site. Ask for specifics like the type of gadget, browser, etc used. This makes such visitor feel like you’re more interested in solving the issue for him.
  6. Never blank out: There are times when the issues raised by your customers are beyond the immediate control of the man behind the handle. Instead of simply disappearing for hours, it helps to DM or @mention the customer just to let him know his issue is being resolved. If it involves more than one department, let him understand that you have forwarded his complain(s) to the concerned department. Take it a step further by requesting for his email ID so you or the concerned department can mail him once his/her issue has been resolved; or just to keep the relationship going. Just do all you can to create an impression that you’re taking action, even if you’re not. Silence or disappearing is not an option.
  7. Speed is everything: We all want our issues resolved in no time. It’s never a good strategy to keep customer waiting. They almost always want an instant response to the queries. While, you may not be able to respond to all instantly, ensure you it doesn’t take too long. You want to ensure you have proper notifications set up to alert you as well as social listening tools, so no negative experience or query escapes. I recommend 30 – 60 minutes for Twitter and Facebook during working hours (to at least confirm receipt).

The key here is to foster customer delight. I believe every business should exist to create a uniquely awesome experience for all customers. Once you fail in customer support, that awesome experience gets defiled. Need I say more? Over to the comment box :)

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