6 Methods for Introducing Real-Time Service via Social Media Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably know that social media has become immensely popular and relevant to the way companies do business. It’s becoming necessary for businesses large and small to have an active presence on social media sites. These sites allow companies to engage with consumers in ways that just weren’t possible in the past. Having a better relationship with consumers means they’re more likely to be loyal customers, and you’ll attract more people to your business the longer you’re active in the sites.

Given the success of social media for marketing, many companies are finding more ways to integrate social media into their business in other ways. For example, a number of businesses use social media for real-time customer service. Here are six things to consider if you’re interested in using Facebook and other sites to handle customer concerns.

1. Know How Many Messages You Receive Over Time

It’s a good idea to provide customer service through social media if a large number of people already communicate with you over the sites. Otherwise, it may not be practical for you to make the switch to social media. Know about how many messages you receive per day and what kind of questions followers ask in their messages. Certain questions may indicate it’s a good idea to have customer service on social media.

For example, questions asking for product support are definitely customer service oriented. Once you have an idea of the volume of messages you receive right now, take note of how this changes over time. Has the number of messages you receive consistently gone up? This is usually a good sign.

2. Staff to Answer Messages

Next, you should make sure you have enough staff to handle your inbox. If you have trouble keeping up with social media’s demands already, would it really be a good idea to expand your offerings? Ideally, new messages should be answered within 15 to 20 minutes of their receipt, especially during business hours.

3. Make Sure the Right People Are Managing Your Social Media

As helpful as social media can be in growing your business, PR scandals are costly. Who can forget the racist tweet uploaded by Home Depot a few months ago? That just goes to show why it’s a bad idea to give your intern access to your Twitter.

Before you delve any further into social media, make sure that only your most trusted, level-headed and knowledgeable people are the ones managing your page. Despite the widely publicized social media faux pas of the past, some people just don’t learn. Also, be aware that you won’t be able to provide very timely or helpful responses if you don’t have the right people answering messages.

4. Give Product Notices or Helpful Information

After implementing real-time customer service, you may limit the number of messages you receive by keeping customers in the loop through your posts. If you have a product recall, give customers the details through their news feed. Let them know how they should go about returning or getting a replacement item.

This will save you a lot of inbox messages later. It can also be helpful to let customers know about upcoming training sessions or other events. One company, SES Resume Writers, regularly gives Twitter followers updates about resume tactics.

5. Keep Customers in the Loop

When you decide to offer customer service through social media, make sure you let customers know. Failing to make this change clear could result in a lot of complaints or confusion down the road. You want social media to improve customer satisfaction, not reduce it.

Make it very clear as to how your new policies will affect customers and what they will need to do in the future. Also, be sure to let customers contact you at all times. For example, Aquatic Environment Consultants, Inc. has its phone number and a “contact us” tab at the top of their page.

6. Keep Other Options Open

If you do provide real-time service through social media, it’s still a good idea to keep some other, more traditional channels open. Even though social media is incredibly popular, there’s still a chance some of your customers may not use it regularly. Some may just prefer speaking to someone over the phone. It’s possible that taking this convenience away could cost you some customers.

Hopefully the tips above will help you give great real-time customer service over social media!

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