How Important is SPEED in Social Media Customer Service?

social media customer service

We manage the social media accounts for many brands; Hotels that are open 24/7, consumer food products that are consumed 24/7 and many businesses that are not open 24/7 but whose customers and fans are online 24/7, and then there is our own brand that is not 24/7 but often feels like it. In the digital age we live in, our brand is open as long as there are consumers crawling around on our social channels and websites. It’s like they have keys to our front doors, even when we aren’t there. How quickly we are able to respond to a comment or question our customers leave can create a lasting impression…good or bad.

There is something very endearing about a brand that can respond quickly when you mention them in a tweet or post somewhere else. You feel validated and special! It is certainly no easy task to run a listening command center for your brand, but even the smallest of companies can benefit greatly from becoming faster on the draw when it comes to response time.

To manage the ever-growing online population, your company must have a plan on how to stay fast as well as maintain a high-level of customer service on social media. There are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the US alone, according to a study done by Venture Beat. A full ten percent of us find something to complain about publicly, every day, and the sad fact is most of these complaints fall on deaf ears. A whopping 32.8 percent of the complaints go completely ignored.

Last week we had a consumer post a photo of a food product that had mold on it on the client’s Facebook page. It was 7pm. Our policy with this client was to notify them via phone before we responded to any negative comment. We already had an apology response crafted and ready to at least let the customer know they have been heard and we are working on a solution. The client was worried and wanted the legal department to give their input (yes this brand was new to social media), so we waited…and waited…and waited. We couldn’t even send the message letting the person know they had been heard.

The consumer, however, did not wait. They started tagging their friends, after 30 minutes, telling them not to purchase the product because it was bad, and a conversation blossomed … without us!

When a consumer posts a positive comment, they may not always expect to hear back right away from you to thank them for their wonderful comments, but when an angry person posts a question or comment, the timer starts ticking! Every moment counts. If you have to contact a manager to alert them of the situation, then draft a response to the person, send it to the manager, who has to send it to the legal team to approve it before you can say anything to the person online, you will have a much bigger problem, guaranteed.

The bottom line is speed and empathy when it comes to responding to a negative comment on social media. So how can you put systems and processes in place to help you respond faster to good and not so good comments on social? Here are 3 tips to get you started:

  1. Be sure you go and grab your name on all social channels, whether you will use them or not.

    This can get you into trouble if someone else can post as you. You also want to be able to quickly reply on the most popular channels, whether you use it for marketing or not. We have clients who insist that their audience is not on Twitter, and they don’t see the need to be active there, but Twitter is one of the top social platforms for venting and it should be used as a listening tool, if for nothing else. You want to be notified and able to respond quickly on any social platform.

  2. Have a written plan.

    Who will be contacted and how? Is there a different person to contact after normal business hours? Will you have a standard quick reply and then have a team of people or at least another person to help craft a more personalized answer? Having at least one other person involved will minimize the risk of someone responding defensively and inappropriately. If you are a solopreneur, a written plan will help you prevent a disaster if you get into a situation where you want to blast an angry response back or even when posting a heart-felt response that can get misinterpreted.

  3. Plan some response templates.

    There are certain common complaints any brand can anticipate whether you are a small fitness studio, a popular dairy company, or a large hotel chain, come up with a list of most likely complaints you might run across and then craft responses to each. These can be saved as drafts in Facebook or if you use a tool like Hootsuite, you can save them in your content library.

Be sure to look at your response times and your current process on a regular basis to find ways you can improve. With more eyeballs on our brands than ever before, we need to shine even brighter online when it comes to our level of customer service.

We’d love to hear from you. What do you do to prepare or to respond faster to customers on your social channels? Share them with us.


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