The Complete @Buffer Guide to Customer Service via Social Media

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

Ready to do something really groundbreaking and revolutionary in social media marketing?

I’ve got just the thing: customer service.

We talk a lot at Buffer about customer happiness, and it’s because we truly believe in it. Here’s how our Leo Widrich puts it:

“Customer support is the very rare opportunity to connect to your customers on an emotional level. You can’t do that in any other way.”

And while there are a growing number of other awesome companies who feel the same way we do, there’s still a pretty big gap between what customers want from social media customer service and what many brands are delivering. That’s where the whole “groundbreaking and revolutionary” thing comes in.

“I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Exceeding expectations may be easier than you think. Treat customers like real people and genuinely care about their issues (and fixing them) and you can majorly wow them. And if Buffer’s story is any indication, all that love will really pay off for you.

In this ultimate guide to using social media for customer service, we’ll discuss everything from why social media customer service is so important to using the right tone and the right tools to measuring your results.

Why customer service matters on social media

First, the bad news. Even if you think you’re doing amazing social media customer service, chances are decent that…well, you’re not. Our buddies at HelpScout uncovered this astounding stat:

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

It’s simple: Customers want, expect and are prepared to reward great social media customer service, but not many brands are living up to their expectations.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

On the bright side, that means there is a huge opportunity for you to stand out and really wow the customer (OK, and also a huge opportunity for your competitors if you don’t). How huge? Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Only 36% of consumers that make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.
  • When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.
  • 71% of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response.
  • 43% of consumers say that a direct response to their questions is most important at a social media site. 31% expect the social media site to provide direct access to customer service representatives or product experts.
  • 86% of social media customers would like or love to hear from a company regarding a complaint.

Pretty convincing, eh?

Even more intriguing is how social media customers diverge from other customers in terms of expectations.

As you can see in this chart from an American Express study, social media produces more reward for wowing customers (yay, social customers tell way more people about good experiences!) but also more risk for failing customers (yikes, 83% have bailed on a purchase because their service sucked!).

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

Then there’s the small matter of every single interaction being open for public view when it comes to social media. More than 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week, and roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature. And one bad interaction can wipe out even more good ones.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

But get the social media buzz going in your direction and the possibilities are limitless.

What social media customers want

So now that we know the opportunity we have in amazing social media customer service, let’s figure out just what customers want and expect on social media.

1. A quick response to their problems

The No. 1 thing customers want? A fast response! According to an Edison study, 42 percent of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

And here’s a truly mind-blowing stat: More consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response than would recommend a brand that provides a slow but effective solution

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service

In other words, it’s more important to social media customers that you be fast than that you be correct.

Now that doesn’t mean we brand representatives should rush to give speedy, useless answers, but it does show just how important speed is for social media customers.

Courtney Seiter

Courtney Seiter

Courtney Seiter heads up content marketing at Buffer, the super simple social media management tool. Connect with her on Twitter.

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2 thoughts on “The Complete @Buffer Guide to Customer Service via Social Media

  1. Definitely a quick reply via social media is always appreciated and often stops me from being so mad at a particular issue. Virgin Media in particular are great at using Twitter to respond and solve customer issues. It can be such an amazing way to turn a situation from a negative one into positive.