How to Create a Social Media Customer Service Plan

Written by: Leo Manning

Today, customers have grown accustomed to getting near instant responses to questions thanks to search engines like Google, chatbots hosted on brand websites, and direct access to brands through social media. This has caused customer service to become even more ingrained into the user experience, to the point where a 2016 Microsoft report noted that 60% of consumers stopped working with a brand because of poor customer service.

For these reasons, it’s imperative for organizations to have a clear social media customer service plan. But before building any plan, there needs to be a clear understanding of what it really aims to achieve.

What is Social Media Customer Service

Traditionally, customer service was focused on engaging directly with customers over several areas, including over the phone, via email, and especially in person. Today, many consumers have directed their questions away from online support emails to the DMs of brand-associated accounts. However, the aim remains consistent: to provide a positive experience to potential customers by answering questions as simply and quickly as possible.

On social media, this means engaging with customers in several places, including:

  • In direct messages, which can be found in inboxes and sent privately, directly to an organization’s account
  • In posts, which may or may not include tagging an organization’s social accounts 
  • In comments, which can be found publicly on posts from your organization or on posts from others

Again, for all of these situations, the top priority is to provide a positive experience for customers by responding to them and (ideally) answering their questions. However, there are several other benefits to engaging in all of the above places:

  • Positive Brand Perception: By addressing customer feedback, customers see that your brand is paying attention and listening to feedback. This is especially true when engaging with public posts and comments.
  • Generating Engagement: Responding to comments and posts can create fuller conversations and drive more interactions. 
  • User-Generated Content: Especially for consumer brands, positive customer feedback can serve as testimonial content. Additionally, if a customer posts about a positive experience, this is an easy opportunity to thank them with some kind of incentive and encourage similar activity.

Creating a Customer Service Operating Procedure

Engaging with your customers is ideal on social media, but can only be done effectively if you have an approved plan to do so. The first step of building out your plan is to develop your standard operating procedure (SOP). Ideally, this document holds the appropriate steps to take based on the questions that arise on social media. When building your SOP, there are several parts that should be included, such as:

A List of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Aside from an external, public-facing FAQ, there should also be an internal FAQ that the teams can easily access. It shouldn’t be a stagnant document, but rather a working document that’s consistently updated based on questions that customers are asking, with answers approved by all necessary parties.

Examples of some questions to include with answers can be:

  • “Where will the event be held?”
  • “Am I allowed to bring outside food or beverages?”
  • “What are the hours?”

An Escalation Plan

Aside from common questions, there should be a plan for how to escalate more serious issues. These steps should be outlined based on industry and types of questions that need to be included, along with a clear procedure of next steps for the social media manager responding on social, and a plan for whomever the commenter is being directed to.

Examples of some scenarios where you should include an escalation plan include:

  • For a financial services company: If someone comments about legal implications for a specific strategy or approach.
  • For a consumer foods company: If someone mentions food poisoning or harm coming from consuming your product
  • For a theater: If someone comments about being unable to access an event or flagging an on-site issue.

Relevant Contact Information

In order for issues to be elevated correctly and to get more informed answers, there should be an easy-to-access list of contacts with information to reach them. These contacts will likely be outside of the marketing department, and should include individuals who can answer more specific questions. In the document, it should include their name, title, and what types of questions they can address, along with an email address and phone to reach them, depending on urgency.

Examples of some contacts who should be listed include:

  • For a software company: an individual who can test and address questions around bugs or glitches
  • For a restaurant: an individual who can comment on if dishes have any dietary restrictions
  • For a nonprofit: an individual who can provide extra detail around where donations are going

Need Help Building a Customer Service Plan?

No matter your industry, marketing teams should have clearly defined guidelines and plans when it comes to responding to external questions from potential customers. However, building a social media customer service plan can be a time consuming and iterative process. If you’re interested in getting help with your plan, contact our social media experts today!

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