Social Media Customer Support: The Elephant in the Room

Millennial consumers count technology usage as one of their generation's defining characteristics. A Nielsen report discovered that 83% of millenials are so connected that they sleep with their smartphones. Millennials participate heavily in the social networking scene, clocking in an average of 20 hours per month. Considering that this demographic spends so much time on social media, it's no surprise they consider turning to these channels for customer support -- so it's imperative your company has a social media presence. Social media is an essential support channel, especially if your audience consists of millennial in any degree.

The Benefits of Social Media Sites as Customer Support Channels

The biggest customer support benefit of social media channels is the customer convenience factor. Your customers are already on social networks for entertainment purposes, so they can easily reach out if they need help. You don't make them come to you, cutting down the amount of steps a customer needs to achieve resolution for their problem. According to Brand Driven Digital, 52% of customers posting negative messages on social media sites are trying to get the brand's attention. This accessibility helps lower customer frustration and decreases the chance a customer describes a negative experience with your products or services instead of seeking assistance. For example, if a customer is on Twitter and upset with your products, they may notice your social media account and send a DM.

If you don't yet have a social media site, there's no better reason to start one than providing another platform for customer service. If you have social media profiles already, the initial setup is already done. All you have to do is present the social media platform as a support channel for customers. Running customer inquiries through your social media channels provides other customers with a sense that you care about resolving issues. In some cases, customers with problems may find the solution through responses to others.

Timely Responses are Key

Zappos, Xbox, and other companies focus on creating a quality customer experience on social media channels through timely responses. Social Media Today found Nike responds within an hour for many inquiries, while Xbox and Zappos handle their inquiries within a few hours. According to Convince and Convert, 42% of customers expect a response within an hour. You may not have the customer service resources to support that timely of a response, but make it clear what estimated waiting times are. If you only have a social media support person available during specific hours, post this information before customers tweet after-hours and get upset that they don't hear anything until the morning.

Social Media Solutions

One way to keep up with customer inquiries on social media channels is by working smarter, not harder. Improve your response rates by using social media listening solutions. These tools, such as Social Mention and ViralHeat, streamline the process of responding to messages and managing multiple channels. Some solutions also listen for potential customer engagement through defined keywords, brand names, and hashtags. Not every customer is going to realize you have customer support available through social media channels, so marketing this option is important.

Hootsuite is a popular social media tool that works with 35 social media channels. It's designed for businesses utilizing social media for customer service and marketing, making it easy to integrate with existing customer support solutions you may already be using. Mention focuses on finding social media mentions by creating alerts when it finds information. This application supports social media and websites, so if you want to find mentions on blogs, this option provides that functionality.

Social media channels are an effective tool for bolstering your company's customer service. Once you have your brand's social media marketing up and running, utilize your existing assets to improve your overall customer experience.




Michael Buenaventura

June 18, 2015