The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

How Social Media Can Improve Small Business’ Customer Service

Cartoon drawing of a customer service representative wearing headset and typing on laptop next to a cloud of social media platform icons
Illustration by Anjali Gunaseelan via freshdesk.com

In the modern world of marketing small businesses cannot use social media solely as a way to promote their brand. Consumers today are looking for two-way conversation as a way to be involved and engaged with your business. Most brands think they offer great customer service but that’s not how the public sees it. Though 91% of social media users said they have used social media to communicate with a brand. But the quality of those interactions differs from customer and company. The majority of companies say that provide great customer service but a very minimal amount, less than 10%, agree with those companies.

Social media has become part of the fabric of business marketing today so your small business cannot and should not be avoiding it. Instead, small businesses should embrace social media as a promotional tool but also as a way to speak to and hear from customers directly. A healthy and harmonious relationship with your customers will contribute to your small business thriving.

Why Even Provide Customer Service Through Social Media?

Social media is the preferred platform for customer support

Social media has beat all other forms of communication as the first place consumers go when they have a problem. It is the preferred platform for questions with a product or service. Even as a small business you want to go where the customers are, and today that is on social media. Social media is a quicker way to speak with a brand’s support team. It is streamlined and direct, and it is more casual and provides a real, human touch. Quick turnaround time and great experiences can almost immediately be shared from social media. On the consumer side and the brand side as well.

Increased customer loyalty leads to increased purchases

The most important reason to provide customer service through social media is that this type of engagement will lead to an increase in customer loyalty. This leads to a much higher likelihood that engaged customers will make a purchase from the brand. Per a study by Sprout Social “nearly 9 in 10 consumers will buy products from a brand they follow on social media. The survey also shows that when consumers follow a brand on social, 75% will increase their spending with that brand, a number that has increased 12% year-over-year.”

Relationship building leads to positive brand image

Another reason why customer service through social media is imperative for small businesses is because it builds rapport. A relationship with consumers creates a positive brand image and reputation. The Sprout Social study advises that customers say a brand’s engagement with their audience, transparency, and strong customer service make a company’s social media presence top notch. Other customers who view a brand’s social media interactions are more likely to engage with the brand themselves. This is because they are reassured by the brand’s interactions with others.

Free word-of-mouth marketing

Along the same lines, positive social media customer service experiences will lead to increased word-of-mouth marketing for small businesses. Consumers trust the opinions and recommendations of their friends and family as well as online reviews above all other forms of advertising. A Nielsen study shows that 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. 70% trust peer reviews and opinions posted online. A small business that has excellent customer service is a recommendation that will be shared among family and friends. As a result, great customer service will help broaden the reach of your brand.

Best Practices for Customer Service Through Social Media

Answer customers quickly

The Social Habit has said that when contacting a brand through social media 32% of people expect a response within 30 minutes. Additionally, 42% expect a response within 1 hour. Reaching out to customers quickly creates a positive experience for them. As a result, it makes them more likely to engage through social media. And advise their friends and family to reach out there as well. The faster, the better.

Be personable and approachable, match your customers’ tone

Social media customer service is a much more informal platform than phone, chat, or email support. You should take that into account when speaking to customers. Use the customer’s name and reply with yours, make yourself approachable and real. Being friendly and conversational helps with relationship building which in turn creates positive experiences. Those positive experiences turn into brand loyalty and customer advocacy, two crucial needs for a small business.

Know when to pivot and go private

You want to try to make as many of your customer interactions public. This way any potential customer can see and appreciate it. However, there will always be situations where something goes wrong for a customer. Subsequently, you will have to deal with angry customers. Bad experiences will make customers post repeatedly about your brand on social media. Reach out to them publicly with a genuine, empathetic response. After, ask them to privately message so you can resolve the issue. This process has your small business responding to the detractor and allowing you a chance to turn the situation around. Resolving the issue well enough will male customer go back and post positively about your small business. They may even delete their negative posts.

Key Takeaways

Circle graphs breaking down engagement intent of social media users by platform. 53% Twitter for customer care, 46% Facebook for customer care, 46% Instagram for customer care
Image via Khoros.com

About half of consumers who engage with brands on social media are reaching out about customer care concerns.” So, if your small business is not using social media as a customer service arm in addition to brand promotion, then you are wasting an opportunity to build customer loyalty. Even worse you’re leaving your small business open to negative responses. As a result, customers will publicly shame you because you’re basically ignoring them.

To sum up, good customer relations are pivotal to the success of small businesses. Good customer service experiences can make or break a small business. Small businesses are the heart of local communities. And the community will make their voices heard if they are happy or upset. These steps will guide your small business down the right path with customer service choices using social media. Customers will be singing your small business’ praises.

Keep Learning

How top brands handle social media customer service and support

Consumer expectations for social media customer service

Why social media is the next customer service tool

Subscribe at the right to TSO to learn ways to improve your social media marketing for your small business. Comment below with any ideas for additional social media customer service best practices. Share this and other TSO posts with friends on social media.

Category: Advanced Tactics