Social Media as Customer ServiceEven in the largest companies, there is some confusion over where to put the social media team. Is it marketing? PR? Customer service? In all honesty, it’s a mix of all three. Social media is one of the best resources both consumers and businesses have to build a relationship with one another. In terms of customer service, this means that any unhappy customer has the power to make their issues known to the general public. While that may sound scary or threatening to the small business owner, it actually provides the opportunity to win disgruntled customers over and turn them from brand critics to brand advocates! Here are 5 ways which you can use social media to provide the best customer experience possible:

1) Respond as soon as you can.

Imagine calling a business to try to get some help, but ending up left on hold for a week. That’s essentially what is happening when you don’t check your social pages or you put off responding to people. This is your chance to wow your customers with prompt service. Set a reminder to check your social profiles on the hour. If you have a smartphone, set it up to where you get alerts whenever anyone comments or messages your business’s social pages. That way you can help them immediately. It’s a good rule of thumb to respond to social requests within 2 hours. Even if you can’t help them right away, let them know that their message was received and you’re working on it. This ensures that your customers aren’t left in the dark, or even worse, stewing in their unhappiness!

2) Determine the best way to respond.

Not all social requests should be handled publicly. If your response is going to contain personal information or you foresee the conversation being lengthy or possibly argumentative, it’s best to resolve the issue privately. However, it still is a good idea to acknowledge the situation publicly – this will give your business the reputation of listening and engaging with your customers. A good idea is to respond to the request on social, encouraging the person to call so that you can discuss the situation one on one.

3) Don’t delete the bad.

No one wants to have people complain about them, least of all on the internet where anyone can see it! More important than the complaints that you may get on social is how you handle them. People would much rather see a business be able to address a concern quickly and respectfully than find nothing critical at all. So let your bad reviews stand; they’re probably doing more good than harm in the long run.

4) Don’t ignore the good.

Conversely, don’t let people who think highly of you go ignored! People who compliment you on social have already gone out of their way to boost your reputation; they deserve recognition just as much as the negative-Nancys. A thank you, public shout out, or reward (if you’re feeling so inclined) can make a one-time fan into a lifelong customer!

5) Really listen and put social feedback to good use.

Make sure you’re always learning from your audience. If you’re getting frequent complaints about shipping times, perhaps it’s time to look into using a different carrier. If you receive an overwhelming positive response from a special or an event, think about having it again soon. As I said before, social media is the best tool you have to have a conversation with your customers, so put it to good use and really pay attention to what they have to say.