I was asked to comment on a story for the Vertical Response blog about customer service on social media during the holidays. While that article includes excellent advice, I thought I’d expand on my thoughts a bit here.
As we’ve learned from survey after survey throughout the years, a lot of people will be shopping online at work on Cyber Monday. Shopping online, regardless of location, happens more frequently with each passing year throughout the holiday selling season, regardless of location.
For the simple reason that many more customers and potential customers are paying closer attention to retailers on social media, it is crucial to know what people are asking of, and talking about you during this period.
The customer who is frustrated because your discount code is not registering during the checkout process on your website is not just complaining to you; when they @ you on Twitter, they’re likely talking to anyone who is reviewing your Twitter feed for deals as well. Conversely, the customer who leaves a glowing review on your Facebook page has just sung your praises to a much larger audience than at any time of the year.
While these social media customer service tips are essential for the holidays, they are applicable throughout the year:
1) Assign A Social Customer Point Person
Assign a staff person with primary responsibility for monitoring and replying to social media issues. This person should be familiar with typical customer service issues your business faces day to day as well as during the holiday season.
Ideally, they should also have online community management experience so they are cognizant of the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of each social channel. At the very least, though, they should be an active participant on Facebook and Twitter.
2) Plan For Predictable Customer Service Issues
Think through typical customer service issues you face all year round as well as during the holidays specifically and outline a plan of action for each of them.
There are probably canned responses you can have at the ready that can serve as a guide for those who will respond on social. It is important that they personalize those responses to each situation so it doesn’t appear you are just copying and pasting responses to each issue.
Identify which types of issues you’ll want to transition to email or phone conversations to take them out of the public discourse and which issues deserve a public response.
Customer service issues can often provide an excellent public relations opportunity. By providing stellar results in solving a customer’s problem publicly, you can often turn a critic into a champion while demonstrating for the world to see the priority you place on your customers.
3) Monitor Social Media
Be sure to have a monitoring system in place.
If you are a small company, that system can be as simple as using Google Alerts and configuring your Facebook and Twitter accounts to send emails to your point person whenever someone mentions you. There are also modestly priced solutions like Sprout Social.
Larger organizations will need more robust systems dedicated to monitoring such as Radian6, Sysomos or Meltwater.
4) Devote Sufficient Resources To Address Any Customer Service Issues On Social Media
Ensure you have sufficient staff dedicated to monitoring and responding to any customer service issues that arise on social media. Base your staffing decisions on the baseline you normally devote to handling customer service issues times the volume increase you expect during the holidays.
It is important that any issues be addressed immediately during the holidays. People expect immediacy on social channels any time of year, but during the harried holidays, people have far less patience.
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