3 Ways to Win at Social Customer Support #smlondon

The future of customer service is online. Social networks are powerful platforms which businesses and brands can use to connect with customers and influencers in a positive, constructive way. That there is an entire generation of digital natives ­ those who’ve grown up with the internet as a constant companion ­ cannot be ignored nor underestimated; instead, companies need to ensure that their customer support offering adapts and caters to their social­savvy audience. The following three steps are a good place to start:

1. Take a proactive approach

If you’re simply waiting for customers to contact you when they encounter difficulties with your product or service, you are likely passing up the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. Instead of only responding when issues are raised, preempt them by publishing data­driven content across your networks.

Determine the top contact drivers of your userbase, and use that information to develop a proactive content strategy (like “Tip” Tweets and blog posts) to address customers’ queries before they have the need to reach out. Twitter’s recent Polls feature is a great way to crowdsource this data from your audience.

2. Develop a multi­channel presence

Not everyone will use the same platform to reach out to customer service. This can be due to a number of factors; perhaps Facebook is more popular than Twitter in a particular region, or within a certain demographic, or Live Chat favoured over phone support. It would be unwise to presume, for example, that the majority of your users will feel comfortable contacting you on Twitter, especially if they are looking for a way to share private details or experiences. To offer an inclusive online support experience, give your customers choice.

Let social be your first touchpoint, but use integrations and plugins to provide other options, such as Live Chat, email or even phone assistance. Using a social media management tool makes it much easier to develop a multi­channel presence, allowing you to manage multiple social networks from one dashboard.

3. Use a natural tone of voice

Tone of voice can be so easily misconstrued online. What might sound light­hearted and friendly to a support representative might come across as flippant and mocking to a customer. Social networks don’t always offer enough space for customer service teams to express many emotions, but relaying empathy at some point during the exchange is crucial to creating or repairing a connection. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between friendly and to­the­point, refraining from too many platitudes to express a “real” voice.

Championing these techniques will help brands to cultivate a dynamic and authentic online presence, qualities which make for a customer service team ready for whatever their socially active clients might throw at them next.

Nadia Henderson is an Enterprise Customer Advocate at Hootsuite in London.