How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

3 Tips for Communicating with Customers through Social Media

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Many small business owners who use social media in their businesses for marketing have quickly discovered how they can use various networks to expand their customer service processes as well. These businesses have been able to create social media accounts that not only promote the business, but also act as a first-line customer service portal.

There are other small business owners who have been avoiding social media, but are now getting pulled in by their customers as they leave reviews on sites like Google Places and Yelp; or when they share praise or criticism about the company on Facebook and Twitter.

It's not just the large brand name companies that are getting called out on social media sites for issues with their products and services; all businesses are free game when it comes to social media.

The good news is that you can expand your customer service practices by creating a presence on social media sites, while developing a plan that focuses on providing exceptional customer service.

Here are a few tips that you can use in your customer service-focused social media plan that will help you improve and strengthen your customer relationships while protecting your company's reputation.

Use Search Tools

In order to use social media to provide customer service, you need to know what your customers are saying about your business. There are many different tools you can use to track mentions of your company name and products across the Web. Try setting up keywords in Google Alerts and then consistently review the results.

It doesn't take long, but it does require regular check-ins to be effective.

Respond Right Away

Social media sites are mostly public, so once someone throws something out there, there is no taking it back. It is vital to act fast, especially when a customer is unhappy about something and is letting everyone know about it.

No matter how you feel about the complaint, you need to respond publicly and immediately. It can be something as simple as, "I'm sorry you are having that problem. Send a message to [your email address] with the details, and I will look into it immediately."

This also helps you move the issue away from the public eye so you can work with the customer one-on-one to resolve the issue. Don't forget to follow up to make sure the customer is happy when the issue is resolved. If you're lucky, he or she will post again about the great customer service received.

Listen Up

You can also be proactive when it comes to customer service on social media sites. Add keywords about your products and services to your lists on the tracking sites above and listen to what people are saying. This can be a great way to find potential customers who need what you provide in your business. Once you do, reach out and offer the solution to his or her problem.

Plus, listening to what customers are saying about your industry and even the competition can be a great way to gather information from your target market that you can use to improve your products and services.

As you get started, remember that consistency and professionalism are the two most important factors that come into play when you're using social media for customer service.

If you keep that in mind, you may be surprised how easy it is to talk to your customers in a new way.