Social Media Customer Service: A Beginner's Guide

Social Media Customer Service: A Beginner’s Guide [With 12+ Best Practices] 

Social media customer service has become a critical part of a company’s social media strategy, big and small. 

It’s no secret that customers turn to social media channels to air their grievances, and they expect a response. The question now is…

How can businesses provide customer care and support via social media without alienating or frustrating customers?

In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of social media customer service and offer tips on how to provide outstanding customer experiences on social media.

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

Before we dive deep into social media customer service, let’s first take a quick look at the difference between customer service and customer experience. 

Customer service is assisting customers before, during, and after they purchase a product or service. Customer experience, on the other hand, encompasses the customer’s entire journey with a brand, from awareness to purchase and beyond. 

In other words, customer service is a single touchpoint within the customer experience. Companies need to create positive interactions at every stage of the customer journey – including customer service – to create a truly exceptional customer experience.

Customer experience includes… 

  • Providing helpful and responsive customer service, whether a potential customer or an existing customer.
  • Anticipating the needs of your target audience at every single touchpoint, including each social platform your business is in. 
  • Going above and beyond to create memorable, positive interactions and customer care. 

In short: Customer experience always puts the customer first to create customer loyalty and advocacy.

Now that you know the difference between customer service and customer experience, let’s continue looking at social media customer service.

What Is Social Media Customer Service?

Social media customer service provides assistance and support to customers through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Specifically: 

  • Answering customer questions and complaints, whether in a social media post or direct messages on a social channel inbox, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
  • Addressing product concerns through social media content. This could also be a part of a company’s overall content marketing and social media marketing. 
  • Resolving customer service issues by ensuring a positive social media engagement.
  • Monitoring social media analytics, including social media advertising, for mentions of your brand and social media user engagement.
  • Providing general information about your products and services with a timely and relevant social post, Facebook and Instagram Story, and even paid advertising like Facebook ads.
  • Making it easy for your target audience to contact you by clearly displaying all contact information, including each social media account you have, in your social media profile.
  • Anticipating what a potential customer will ask and setting up automated responses inside a social media inbox, such as Facebook Messenger AI chatbot.

With 92.05 million Filipinos using social media, having a social media presence is essential to provide better support for your customers. It’s no surprise that many small businesses in the Philippines use social media and messaging apps as their main communication channels. 

Companies can address issues quickly and effectively by responding to customers inside a social media network, creating a better overall customer experience.

Pro Tip! Be sure to display all your social media buttons if you already have an eCommerce website.

Benefits of Social Media Customer Service

When customers are happy, they’re more likely to return and refer others. One study found that 93% are more likely to be repeat customers after experiencing excellent customer service. 

Social media customer service can help businesses create those positive experiences for their customers. By addressing complaints and answering questions quickly and effectively, businesses can turn unhappy customers into brand advocates.

In addition, businesses offering social media customer service can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Resolve customer complaints quickly and effectively.
  • Showcase their commitment to customer satisfaction.
  • Build greater brand loyalty.
  • Generate positive online reviews.
  • Increase reach and brand awareness.
  • Reduce customer support costs.
  • Create a positive reputation for the company.
  • Boost conversions and sales.

In short: Holistic social media management should include social media customer service to ensure the best possible customer experience on each social media site. 

How to Provide Social Media Customer Service

To be successful at social media customer service, you need to have a clear strategy for handling customer interactions on each social network. 

This should include designated staff members who are responsible for monitoring and responding to social media engagement, as well as clear guidelines for how to handle various types of customer inquiries. 

When done correctly, social media customer service can be valuable in building relationships with customers and ensuring that their needs are met.

To help you get started, here are four tips for providing exceptional social media customer service:

  • Respond quickly. Customers reaching out to businesses through social media channels likely need immediate assistance with a problem or question. If you don’t respond promptly, you could lose your customer’s business.
  • Be polite and friendly. Social media is a public forum, so companies need to approach social media customer service with a professional and courteous attitude. Your social presence, including how you communicate, will reflect on your business.
  • Address the customer’s problem. When responding to customers, make sure to address their problems. Don’t just provide a generic response. Listen to understand what your customers need, so you can answer their questions and resolve their issues.
  • Keep your responses brief. Respect your customer’s time by answering as briefly and concisely as possible. You don’t want to monopolize the conversation or further confuse them with information not needed at the time.
  • Use your brand voice. Have a clear understanding of your brand voice and how to best communicate with your customers. The tone may change depending on the social media platform you are in. Still, the voice has to stay consistent to represent your company.

Responding to Negative Comments on Social Media

No matter what you do on social media, you’re bound to get negative comments from time to time. It’s just the nature of having a business. It’s not a question of if but when. 

And when those negative comments come, it’s crucial to have a plan in place for how you’re going to respond

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when responding to negative comments on social media:

  • Don’t ignore them. The worst thing you can do is ignore negative comments. It makes you look like you’re not paying attention, and it also gives the commenter free rein to keep posting negative things about your brand.
  • Respond quickly. The sooner you can respond to a negative comment, the better. It shows that you’re paying attention, and it gives you a chance to address the issue and hopefully resolve it.
  • Keep it polite and professional. No matter how angry or frustrated you may be, always try to keep your responses polite and professional. Being rude or aggressive will only make the situation worse.
  • Address the issue head-on. When responding to a negative comment, always address the issue head-on. Don’t try to dodge the issue or make excuses. Be honest and open. And most importantly, explain what happened and what you’re doing to fix it.
  • Stay positive. No matter how negative comments may be, always try to stay positive. Responding to criticism with anger or negativity will only make things worse. Be polite, and thank the commenter for their feedback.

How to Measure the Success of Your Social Media Customer Service

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the success of social media customer service depends on your business’s specific goals and objectives. 

However, there are a few key metrics that you can use to measure the success of your social media customer service:

  • Tracking the number of customer service inquiries on social media will show how much demand there is for this type of support. 
  • Tracking the average response time will show how quickly you can resolve customer issues. The goal should be to respond as quickly as possible, preferably within an hour or less.
  • Tracking the resolution rate gives you an idea of the percentage of customers whose issues are resolved after contacting your social media customer service.
  • Tracking customer satisfaction ratings gives you an idea of how well your team is doing at solving customer problems. It also measures how likely customers are to recommend your brand to others.
  • Proactively monitoring social media mentions of your company allows you to address any negative sentiment in a timely manner. It also gives you an idea of how the market perceives your brand through social listening.
  • If you are doing social selling, tracking new followers and conversions will show how effective your marketing strategy is. And if they become repeat customers, it could be because they had a positive customer service experience. 

By monitoring these metrics, you can see how well your social media customer service is performing and make necessary improvements.

Pro Tip! Did you know that you can funnel messages from your social media channels into one inbox with an all-in-one eCommerce platform? (Just like Prosperna!) 

Best Practices for Social Media Customer Service

Social media has changed the customer service landscape. In the past, if a customer had a problem, they would have to call or email customer service and hope they could get in touch with a human being who could help them. 

Now, customers can reach out to companies directly through social media – and they expect a quick response! 

If you are doing digital marketing – specifically social media marketing and influencer marketing – the more you need to create a social media customer service plan. 

So, how can you ensure that you’re providing excellent social media customer service? Here are some tips to get you started on the right track:

  1. Have a documented plan and guide scripts for dealing with complaints. And make sure you have a clear process for escalating customer issues beyond social media. 
  1. If possible, have someone dedicated to monitoring social media channels and responding in a timely manner.
  1. Take the time to understand the issue and offer a solution. If you are unable to help, be sure to point the customer in the right direction.
  1. Be patient and understanding when addressing customer concerns. Show that you care about your customer’s experience.
  1. Always thank your customers for their business and provide them with additional information or support if needed.
  1. Go the extra mile to resolve the issue by taking the time to troubleshoot before offering a solution.
  1. Customers expect a speedy response when they reach out on social media. Try to answer all inquiries within 24 hours.
  1. Try to resolve customer complaints directly rather than through public posts.
  1. If a customer issue can’t be resolved quickly or easily, offer to take the conversation offline via email or phone. This will prevent frustration on both sides.
  1. Be cautious about using automated responses, as they can often come across as impersonal and robotic. Use a personal tone as much as possible.
  1. Use a tool like Google Alerts or Hootsuite to monitor mentions of your company on social media so you can quickly address any issues that come up.
  1. At the end of the day, customers want to know that they are being heard. So, listen with the intention to understand. And by fully understanding them, can you best respond.

Final Word

The takeaway from all this should be clear: Social media customer service is here to stay, and businesses need to be prepared to meet the needs of their customers. 

By offering outstanding customer service on social media, you can build trusting relationships with your customers, improve brand loyalty, and boost sales. And, as our beginner’s guide has shown, it’s not as difficult as you might think. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start delighting your customers on social media! They’ll be glad you did.

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Dennis Velasco

Dennis Velasco

Dennis Velasco is the CEO and Founder of Prosperna, an all-in-one eCommerce platform for Philippine businesses. As a technology evangelist at heart, Dennis is super passionate about helping MSMEs "level the playing field" with technology. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Dennis Velasco

Dennis Velasco is the CEO and Founder of Prosperna, an all-in-one eCommerce platform for Philippine businesses. As a technology evangelist at heart, Dennis is super passionate about helping MSMEs "level the playing field" with technology. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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