As a small business owner you probably realize that social media is here to stay as a marketing channel. But do you know that social media is quickly becoming one of the main ways that consumers interact with sellers when it comes to customer service? Let’s look at why you need to use social media for customer service.

The Cold Hard Facts

Over at Convince and Convert Jay Baer wrote an article analyzing some data that they uncovered in their research with The Social Habit. Here is a chart of some of their findings:

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Basically what this means is that 32% of consumers expect a response to their request via social media in 30 minutes or less and a staggering 42% expect a response in 1 hour or less.

This is quite different from email support where most expect to be contacted within the next 24 hours. This puts social media much more in line with what you would expect from calling in for phone support.

Even more interesting though is that they found that “24% of American Internet Users 12+ Who Have Contacted a Brand in Social Media, Expect a Reply Within 30 Minutes, Regardless of When the Contact Was Made.”

That means that they don’t care if it is 2am and your are in bed. They still expect a response.

Now I am going to guess that this applies more to larger companies and businesses and not quite as much to the Small Business sector. But even so the message is clear. Consumers want to be able to contact you on social media and they expect a response. You need to use social media for customer service.

What Can My Small Business Do?

Start a Customer Support Channel

The first thing you can do is set up a Social Media account dedicated to customer service. A perfect example of this is Beats headphones. I know that they are far from a Small Business but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from them (I am actually a huge advocate of small business looking at what big businesses are doing and using that for their own business).

I have heard from more than one source that the Beats customer service team is great and that their twitter account is a great way to contact them and get your customer service needs taken care of.

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They have a simple twitter feed just for customer service @BeatsSupport. This channel is dedicated completely to customer support. If anyone has an issue with their Beats headphones they just send a tweet to @BeatsSupport to get the process going. This makes it easy for their customer service to monitor this one channel and stay on top of customer service issues.

Monitor the Channel

Now that you set up your channel you need some way to keep track of it and watch for new tweets.

My (and pretty much everyone’s) favorite tool for this is https://hootsuite.com/. This is a super cool dashboard that can be set to monitor pretty much any social media account along with other streams that you can set up for searches, #hashtags, etc. And you know what the best part about it is? You can start using it for free.

I’m not going to go through all the steps of setting up your Hootsuite to monitor your new channel but it is pretty simple.

  1. Sign Up
  2. Log In
  3. Add Your Social Network (ie. Connect to your new twitter channel)
  4. Add a Stream for you channel and choose @Mentions

Now you just need to keep this tab up on your computer and keep an eye on the feed. I would suggest setting some type of schedule for you or whoever you have running your customer service to check it. Say once an hour or every 30 minutes. Just make sure that it happens constantly and consistently.

Let People Know

Now that you have set up your channel and are watching it you need to let your customers know that this a way for them to contact you about their customer service needs.

I would suggest making this part of your onboarding process. Let them know through another medium like email that they can contact you about issues through your social media channel. Make sure that you set some expectations in the email. For example that customer service hours are 9-5 M-F and that you will respond within 1 hour. Letting your customers know up front will help set expectations and head off issues down the road.

In Conclusion

Social media is here to stay and it is becoming more ingrained in the ways we interact, both personally and in business. Having a customer service social media channel for your small business is something that can set you apart from other small businesses and help your business grow.

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about how to use social media and other forms of digital marketing please visit my site The Small Business Geek.

Add Your Voice

Do you have an advice on how to use social media for customer service? Do you have questions about it? Please leave a comment below so we can all learn.