6 Social Media Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid
Company Twitter and Facebook accounts are increasingly being used as customer service platforms, but some businesses are making big mistakes in the customer social sphere. / Credit: Twitter image via Shutterstock

Every day, millions of consumers share their experiences with brands on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other popular social networks. Companies have learned in recent years that making a good impression — or correcting a bad impression — on customers means listening to these social media conversations and meeting them where they are.

"Customers are so much more influenced by what their friends and communities are saying about brands than by marketers with traditional ads," said Ashley Verrill, a customer relationship management (CRM) analyst at software matching website Software Advice. "[As a business,] it's important that you're influencing what those customers say, and social networks are increasingly the best medium to do that."

Because social media as a customer service tool is still a relatively new concept, companies of all sizes are learning the ropes as they go, which can sometimes result in a negative experience for both brand and consumer. Verrill listed six mistakes to avoid when interacting with customers on social media based on research by Software Advice. [How to Use Social Media for Customer Service]

  • Failing to respond to brand mentions. Software Advice found that larger consumer brands respond to social media mentions only 14 percent of the time. While your brand can't feasibly respond to every single mention, you should make an effort to prioritize and respond to mentions that will help create and build a customer advocate base. Retweeting or sharing a customer post that says something flattering about your brand will have a much bigger impact than a message coming from your company.
     
  • Only responding to positive mentions. Positive customer mentions are a powerful marketing tool, but the way you respond to negative ones can really demonstrate how your brand handles customer service. Verrill recommended being diligent and tireless when it comes to identifying and responding to negative customer mentions.
     
  • Using impersonal, poorly written responses. Customers want to know that a brand's social media is being run by a real person. Provide personalized, non-template responses in a conversational tone that matches the way users communicate on that particular site. You're probably going to have to convey similar information in each response, so come up with a list of different ways to say the same thing.
     
  • Giving customers the runaround. Try to resolve a customer issue in the same channel where it was started. For legal reasons, it's not always possible to fully discuss details of a customer complaint on a public social network, but do as much as you can. If a customer tweets about a negative experience, respond to them on Twitter asking what you can do to help. If it can't be resolved through tweets or direct messages, give them your contact information to continue the conversation elsewhere immediately. Avoid asking customers to contact another department or wait for a response.
     
  • Not resolving the issue publicly. If you do have to take the conversation offline, always return to the original channel and reach out to the customer afterwards (i.e., "We're so glad we were able to resolve the issue"). This way, that person's followers who saw the initial request for help can see that it ended in resolution.
     
  • Missing the opportunity to ask for another chance. In cases where the issue can't be resolved, ask the customer for a chance to improve his or her future experience with the company through a voucher, coupon or product sample. Verrill warned that this option should be used with caution.

    "You don't want to train your followers to get really upset [on social media] and expect free stuff," she told Business News Daily.

Originally published on Business News Daily.