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July 17, 2019 How to Master Customer Service on Social Media in 4 Steps (The ACTIVE Method)

social media customer service

It’s hard enough to master customer service in real life. Now, you’ve got to ace your customer interactions on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter? There’s also the added pressure of knowing that it’s all for public viewing.

Relax. You’ve got this. Customer service on social media can be summed up in these 4 manageable components:

Active | Reactive | Interactive | Proactive

This is the 4-step ACTIVE method for customer service on social media. It’s a strategic way to ensure you’re treating guests to the same experience they’d receive in person at your business.

The ACTIVE Method for Customer Service on Social Media

You can use this method as a starting point to build your own custom plan. But you definitely need a plan, because 63% of people today expect businesses to provide customer service and support on social media. Here’s a quick overview of the ACTIVE method:

1-Be Active

At the core of this method for customer service on social media is the word “active.” Social media customer service is a 24/7 gig. You must actively monitor all social platforms for any mention of your business name. At the same time, it’s important to actively welcome customer service reactions on social platforms through messaging apps.

2-Be Reactive

Once you know what’s being said about your biz, you’ll learn how to react in the right way using the 5A formula for customer service on social media. That means responding to both good and bad comments, ASAP.

3-Be Interactive

Remember, customer service on social media is more than just reacting. You want to join in conversations taking place online…even if someone isn’t addressing your business directly.

4-Be Proactive

This is what most businesses miss when planning customer service on social media. You won’t. You’ll be ahead of the game with creative ways to show love to customers on social media, from re-gramming their pics to spotlighting their glowing reviews and maximizing Facebook’s new “Top Fan” feature.

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Be Active

It all starts with a perspective shift. Customer service within your four walls only occurs during business hours. With customer service on social media, you’re expected to be available and active all day – every day.

If you’re a small business owner, you can still achieve this 24/7 presence with a little help from your friends: social media listening tools and chatbots.

Start Listening Now

If you do one thing today, do this: sign up for one of these 5 social media listening tools so you get instant alerts when your business is mentioned anywhere online. Set up Google Alerts as well, it’s free and also notifies you if your biz name pops up on the interwebs.

Monitor Everywhere

Here’s another tip for customer service on social media. Keep close tabs on all social media platforms – not just the ones where you have a presence.

For example, maybe you only manage a Facebook and Instagram page for your business. But you get an alert that someone started a Reddit thread (known as a Sub Reddit) complaining about an experience at your business. You want to monitor that thread, and maybe chime in to ask the author of the Sub Reddit to contact you directly.   

Keep Tabs on Ads

One of the “hidden” areas of customer service on social media you need to manage is the comments section of any ads you run on Facebook or Instagram.

Embrace Facebook Messenger

Messenger is now the preferred channel for customer service, and people are using it to engage with businesses 615% more than email.

What’sawesome about Messenger is that it is designed for 24/7 customer service on social media…even if a “human” isn’t available 24/7. How is that possible? Messenger can be easily programmed to display instant answers to frequently asked questions. To do this, you’ll need to set up a 3rd party chatbot app on Messenger…see how to do this in 30 minutes or less.

Using the chatbot app, program custom answers to questions. Let’s say you manage a restaurant, you might set up automated answers to the following questions: what are your hours? Do you take reservations? Where are you located? Do you have live music?

Ultimately, on-demand support is at the heart of customer service on social media. Even though most customers know these responses are automated, it still gives them the feeling that your business is active and ready to help them at all times. You can also program the welcome text on Messenger, alerting customers when a representative of your business will get back to them. Managing expectations is a key strategy for customer service on social media – and in the real world.

Be Reactive

Thanks to those nifty social media listening tools, you should have at least a few daily mentions on social media that need a response. If you’ve set up Facebook Messenger, you’ll also have some messages in your inbox awaiting answers. Now it’s time to react. Use these strategies for customer service on social media to do it right…

Respond Quickly in 24 Hours or Less

Time is of the essence when it comes to customer service on social media: 85% of Facebook consumers want a response within 6 hours. However, 42% of complainers want to hear from you within 60 minutes.

Ace How You Handle Complaints with the 5A Formula

Haters are gonna hate. It’s a fact of life when it comes to customer service on social media. You’ll be faced with a hostile review left in the form of a Facebook review or the dreaded “Tweet Storm” from an angry customer. Never fight fire with fire. Take a deep breath, then use this 5A formula to respond to negative reviews and complaints with class.

Everyone is watching how you respond. Do it with grace. Even direct messages on Instagram and Facebook that you think are private – can go public (hello, screenshots). 

Hiding and Deleting Hostile Comments

Most experts in customer service on social media recommend that you never delete comments, unless they violate basic community guidelines that you set for your page. Facebook allows you to “hide” comments, so only the person and their friends can see the comment. The trouble with hiding comments is that a) you still need to respond to the comment and b) the response will be visible.

Reward the Positive

On the flip side, when a customer takes time to rave about your product or service, you want to quickly – and authentically – thank them for their kind words. You can’t overdo it with positive customer service on social media. Using the “love” reaction on Facebook or just writing “thanks” is not enough. Write a few sentences of gratitude.

Create a Cheat Sheet of Responses

The big chains do it, so should you. Come up with a list of responses to the most common questions and complaints. You’ll still want to customize each response so you don’t sound like a robot, but having a central document to rely on will help you get started.

If multiple people on your team are managing customer service on social media, this document is essential to ensure that there’s a consistent “voice” for your business.

Use Emojis to Show Your Human Side

One little “Crying Laughing emoji” goes a long way in showing you understand the conversational nature of customer service on social media. Many brands even have signature emojis they always use in responding to customers. Get started with this guide to emojis.

Be Interactive

This next part of the ACTIVE method involves upping your engagement with customer service on social media. When a customer leaves a comment on your Instagram page or contacts you via Messenger, it’s clear that they expect you to react. But there are other instances where you can jumpstart engagement through customer service on social media.

Tag…You’re It

When a customer tags your business on any social media platform, they’re basically giving you free advertising. All of that person’s followers will see they “checked in” at your business or gave you a shout it. The customer who tagged you isn’t necessarily expecting a response. That’s why you should surprise them by acknowledging the tag!

Always comment or at least react with a “like” on their photo or post, better yet, leave a comment. This is an example of interactive customer service on social media: the customer started the conversation by tagging your business, you’re keeping it going by commenting and reacting.

Assuming you’ve set up a good social media listening tool, you’ll always be alerted when someone checks in or tags your business.

Join the Conversation

Too many businesses miss out on this next tactic for mastering customer service on social media: Are you interacting on other pages as your business? This is a major opportunity to engage in dialogue with other business pages – and customers – in a casual way.

The first step is to set up your “secret” Facebook business newsfeed (check out 19 more secrets of successful Facebook pages). It’s not your personal newsfeed, it’s a feed of all the businesses and pages that you follow – as your business.

To get started with this strategy for customer service on social media, make a list of local businesses that share your same target audience. If you run a sports bar, that list might include pages for local sports teams, sporting goods stores, etc. Follow those pages as your business. Then, check this newsfeed daily. Join in the conversation whenever you have something to contribute.

Group Think

Most cities and towns have multiple Facebook Group pages set up where locals can chat about what’s happening in the area. Join one as your business, and then join in the conversation whenever you can provide customer service on social media.

Many people use these Facebook Groups who are new to the area, and want recommendations for everything from places to eat to the best lawn service company. Chime in as your business whenever you can be helpful, it’s a non-salesy way to get your name out there and provide customer service on social media in an unexpected way.

Proactive

It’s common among businesses – especially independent business – to take a “call center” approach to customer service on social media …waiting for guests to reach out with an issue. Instead, use these strategies to take initiative.

Facebook’s New “Top Fan” Feature

This exciting new tool lets you shine the spotlight on your most active followers on Facebook (who are likely your regulars in real life). Once the “Top Fan” feature is turned on, your followers are eligible to have a “top fan” badge shown next to their name when they leave comments on your page. Activating the Top Fan feature is an excellent way to be proactive with customer service on social media.

Facebook now even allows you to post and share content for “top fans only.” This takes customer service on social media to a new level, because you’re able to give exclusive content and offers to your VIPs.

Best of all, Facebook shows you who those top fans are. Reward these “ambassadors” of your business. Why not invite them to a focus group? Treat them to dinner and ask for their ideas on improving your business.

Facebook Sharing is Caring (So is Re-Gramming)

Another proactive tactic for customer service on social media is one that delivers a win-win for your business. When someone takes a photo or writes a glowing review of your restaurant, reach out and ask if you can share that review or photo with your followers. On Instagram, this is known as “re-graming” – on Facebook, it’s “sharing.”

It’s a social media customer service win for two reasons. First, you’re complimenting the customer by asking to share their (awesome) photo or post. And when you share their content, other followers see that you take a proactive approach to customer service on social media. 

Highlight Positive Reviews

When someone leaves a positive review, ever feel the urge to print it, frame it, and put it on the wall? Go ahead and do that…digitally. Use one of these 6 text-to-graphics apps to turn those glowing words into an attractive image you can post to any social media platform. After all, studies show that on Facebook, posts with images see 2.3x the engagement – and Tweets with images get 150% more retweets on Twitter.

There, now you have the a 4-step framework for mastering customer service on social media. The main takeaway is this: don’t just wait for people to reach out – and then react. Be active, interactive, and proactive. Show everyone that you’re customer-focused online, and you’ll likely see business increase in real life.

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