CustomerServiceWith seemingly constant access to the Internet, communication is more prevalent than ever. We can call and text anyone within our phone books, at any time, and we can share our opinions on companies. For all to see. Within a few seconds, we can give an opinion and get it out into the world – forever searchable by the interwebs. Which also means we have more ways to reach companies, and a quicker access at feedback. Companies are looking for those who mention their names, while customers are looking for any outlet possible in which they can talk to a business.

This is a new norm that allows for an efficient line of communication. Where customers can reach out (and vice versa) in real time. Where they don’t have to be put on hold or wait for days at a time for an email response. Customer service “lines” that are available 24/7, and where more issues are solved in a shorter amount of time. Each interaction also provides real-time brand promotion. (When you fix issues over the phone, no one else knows about it, unfortunately.) Other followers might see a message and solve their own problem, and if not, they’ll still see a company doing something good. Because of the speed, this is also a more efficient route of approaching customer service.

Sounds pretty great, right?

Tips for Online Customer Service

In order to make the most our of your social media efforts, it’s important to actively respond to customer comments or questions. It allow closer interaction with consumers, free exposure, and the ability to show you’re with the times.

For an even more efficient approach be sure and:

Set Goals and Standards

Train online responders and make sure all employees are on the same page. Or, if you’re doing it yourself, keep a set of universal standards with each response so that customers have a positive response, even if you’re having a not-so-positive day.

Leave the Negative Stuff Alone

Users with complaints or who are being extremely vocal about a bad experience should be approached with caution. It’s best to message these folks privately or ask them to get in touch themselves. With an agitated consumer, any communication could be misconstrued and taken offensively. (To someone who doesn’t see the entire conversation, it can be seen as a back-and-forth.) Also, tone can’t be portrayed online, so it’s best to tread lightly.

Be Timely

Because social media is instant, users will likely be looking for your comments ASAP. Take the time to respond quickly and help resolve an issue before it’s solved elsewhere. (AKA by losing business.)

Be Helpful

One of the most important aspects of customer service is that shoppers walk away happy. Remember to be professional at all costs, and to do what you can in order to provide a positive experience. Concise, pointed information is always appreciated, and also provides for an easy fix.

Start reaching out to customers (or brands) online for a better way to communicate.