The Importance of Social Media for Customer Service

By this point, most businesses realize that they need some form of social media. Many of them don’t know why they need it, but they know it is necessary.

The world is being run more and more by this overarching term we call “social media.” Though it doesn’t encompass everything on the Internet that involves interpersonal communication, like many people think, it is a versatile term that has expanded in meaning from just Facebook and Twitter to apps like Yelp, Quora, Skype and thousands of others apps and websites. Though each app has its own functionality, their main purpose is the same—to connect strangers and friends alike in ways that have never been done before.

New Orleans Saints Using SnapchatSome social media channels are strictly designed for personal use. Snapchat, for instance, has had limited success with businesses because of its inherent design, which minimizes potential advertising impact. Though innovative companies like the NFL (most notably the New Orleans Saints) and Taco Bell have had reasonable success with it, most companies find that the potential to advertise is not worth the burden.

Even more important than advertising is the potential to use social media channels as a means of more comprehensive customer service than ever before. So while Snapchat might be a cute way to tell people to go to Taco Bell, it provides little in terms of fielding questions or helping people with their problems. Using social media for customer service is the perfect solution for many common business problems!

Other social media networks, however, provide the perfect outlet to engage with customers while also promoting their brand. For instance, Yelp and Urbanspoon have made it easy for customers to critique and rate services, which are then combined to create an overall rating system. This rating system is so powerful that 90 percent of Yelp users say positive reviews affect their purchases.

Though you can’t delete a review, you can reply to both negative and positive ones, which can alter the mindset of both the customer who wrote the review and potential customers. By replying to a message, it shows that not only do you take pride in your business, but that you also want your customers to be happy at any cost. Considering there are nearly 100 million monthly Yelp users, this can be a fairly substantial way of generating more customer leads while also retaining current ones.

Taco Bell and SnapchatThe same can be said about the social media giants, Facebook and Twitter. While Facebook is slowly switching its interface to include Yelp-like rating systems and reviews, Twitter takes customer service to an entirely different level by providing businesses with the ability to comprehensively monitor Twitter for specific keywords and phrases. Businesses can then reply to concerns or highlight positive reviews.

For instance, if I am a barbeque restaurant in New Orleans that would like to be known as the go-to for all things BBQ in the city, I can highlight phrases like “pulled pork” and “New Orleans,” so that if someone Tweets “where can I get pulled pork in New Orleans?” you can reply with an appropriate response. This can be done on a hyper-local scale, so that you can monitor for these phrases within 5 kilometers of your location or 50 miles. Best of all, you can get as complex or general as you want, so if you want to show “pulled pork” but not “ribs” or “coleslaw” you can do that.

While Twitter Advanced Search works well to create complex search inquiries, tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social offer much better alternatives, that is, if you’re willing to shell out the monthly fee.

Though social media is not paramount for every business, it certainly provides a reasonable, if not better, alternative to traditional customer service. As the world adapts to these channels more and more, customer service online will only become a more integral aspect ,and those who lack these services will likely suffer the consequences.