It’s easy to decide that your business needs to offer customer support on social media. However, in order to ensure that your social media support program actually creates value for your customers and your business, make sure to have a comprehensive plan in place before your first tweet.
1. Will Social Media Support Add Value?
There are a number of questions you should consider when setting up a social media customer support program for your business, but the most important is how your social media support program will benefit your business and support its broader goals.
When answering these questions, make sure to stay true to your ultimate business and marketing goals. Make clear decisions about the appropriate amount of time and resources you can dedicate to offering customer support on social media.
2. Do I Need Social Media Support?
Perhaps your business is a startup that can’t afford to hire a call center or offer in-house telephone support. Or maybe you run a small shop where your mobile phone is the call center and you want to offer an alternate way for your customers to get in touch.
A wide variety of businesses can benefit from offering customer support on social media. I’ll make a bold claim here and say that I think small businesses can benefit even more than large corporations from social media support since public customer support interactions can double as user-generated content on your social media channels.
One public tweet chain with a positive outcome for your customer is worth far more than all the cat pictures you’ve tweeted so far.
3. How Much of My Resources Should I Invest?
Successfully planning your social media support strategy requires a good knowledge of your existing base of customers. If you sell hundreds of items a day on Amazon, you may not be able to pull this off on your own.
- What type of volume do you expect?
- How many hours of the day can be covered by you or your staff?
- Which social media channels should you use?
Don’t be afraid to limit the hours you respond to customers; further, don’t be afraid to ignore some social media channels altogether. Focus your efforts to reach the largest concentration of your customers as possible, and be clear and forthright with them about when and how you’re able to engage with them.
3. What Sort of Management is Needed?
Also realize that building a customer support program for social media is like any digital marketing discipline; you should be constantly analyzing the data created by your customer interactions. You’ll not only understand how to better focus your program’s resources and improve your customer experience, but you can also generally cull useful marketing insights about your customers.
Creating guides and best practices, and ensuring your staff is well-trained with them is also essential to the ongoing management of your social media support program. Because your social media team is the public face of your business, make sure they both understand the basic principles of mass communication and public relations, as well as the specific brand guidelines of your business.
4. What Software Will I Need?
It may sound a little strange coming from a digital marketer, but to be honest I like using the default web and mobile apps for Twitter and Facebook. But when running an online business, especially with multiple team members, this can quickly become unworkable.
In your social media customer support plan, you should create a list of the different marketing tools you’ll be using to find customers in need of help and define your best practices for responding to them. Customer response management (CRM) and analytics tools should also important components in your plan.
For online businesses, I recommend using HootSuite to manage your social media accounts and customer interactions. It’s also commonly used for content marketing and social media marketing, so you can share access to multiple team members remotely.
5. What Else Should I Consider?
It’s also worth considering any factors that may make offering support over Twitter or Facebook difficult or impossible to begin with, such as posting (even privately) personal or confidential information as part of the support you offer.
As an example, if you offer a service and verify a customer’s identity using 4 numbers from their credit card, you may be in violation of confidentiality agreements by sending or asking for that data over Twitter’s service. In those cases, it’s best to use more traditional customer service channels like telephone, email or chat support to make sure you’re in complain.
Additionally, you should consider that you will not own the interactions on service like Twitter or Facebook. Furthermore, you may find your account banned with no recourse to regain access.
In all, whether you’re a large corporation or a tiny one, offering customer support on social media can be a helpful way to provide value for your customers with a price tag much smaller than more traditional customer service channels, though with some limitations.