For a brand, having an online presence is a must-have these days. Posting regular quality content is a should-have. And delivering customer service through social media is a nice-to-have. But if you want to increase brand loyalty and raise sales, you might want to consider turning customer service via social media into a must-have. Not only do customers expect your brand to be online, they expect quick responses and top-notch service.

The Canadian Web Hosting mission is to support customers through inspired technology and premium customer care. We aim to bring value to each and every interaction with our customers, whether that be in person, over the phone, through email, or on social media. We believe the effort of creating exceptional experiences, as well as being available online for our customers when they need us the most, is worth it. With that being said, let’s take a look at a new medium for customer service—social media—and the advantages and disadvantages to be aware of.

Advantages of Using Social Media for Customer Service

First, let’s lay out all the undeniable reasons you should be using social media for customer service.

1. Sets you apart from competitors 

Delivering excellent and consistent customer service on social media will set you apart from competitors who aren’t. 67% of consumers have used social media for customer service, according to a J.D. Power study. You, dear reader, have most likely used it too, whether it be a for a general question or unabashed complaint. And you know the difference it makes when a company is able to reply to you promptly over social media, rather than put you in a queue over the phone or send you a dreaded automated email response. This is why customers are more likely to go with a brand that interacts online and offers customer service.

2. Responding on social media is fast, efficient and mobile

Because of its accessibility and ease of use, social media is the perfect tool for customer service. Customer inquiries can be handled more promptly on social media, increasing your response rate with the next customer.

3. Messenger bots can give you a hand

Social media platforms like Facebook Messenger now have the option of integrating chatbots, which can boost customer service through their quickness and efficiency at starting conversations and answering basic questions—like the preliminary menu when you call a toll-free number. Chatbots can amplify your online availability by answering questions 24/7 when your business is closed. They can also handle simple requests (like “what are your store hours?” or “where are you located?”), so that your support team can answer the trickier questions.

social media for customer service

4. All of that customer care helps ROI 

Customer service can be converted into profits in the long run, as it builds happy, educated customers. Also, if you train your staff properly in sales, they can turn social interactions into prospects. If there are inquiries on social media, you can guide the customer and check back on them. Just remember to be authentic and personal with each customer; Never make a user feel pressured to buy something.

5. Adds a personal touch to the online experience 

Customer service on social media adds a personal touch to the online buying experience. You can also look at it from the perspective of online shopping versus in-person shopping. When you are shopping in person, there is usually someone able to readily greet you and assist you. In that sense, the e-commerce shopping landscape can feel a little desolate. Knowing that there is someone online on social media that can answer you promptly can ease this feeling. This makes social media a new outlet to engage with customers and prospects.

Disadvantages of Using Social Media for Customer Service

Now, let’s look at some of the drawbacks you should consider before adopting social media for customer service full-on.

1. Extra staff is needed to give a helping hand 

If you’re a business with a large online presence, you may need extra staff to support customer service inquiries on social media. If your business is global, it is likely that you will need to extend your staff hours further, so that customers in other time zones can receive equal customer care. You may even need to create a separate support channel altogether, like Canadian Web Hosting has done. We have a regular Twitter handle, as well as our support handle for daily server updates and customer inquiries.

2. Customers may expect immediate replies 

Customers may expect you to reply immediately to their inquiries and become frustrated if you don’t. As with customers who reach out by email or phone, there should be a logical order to the way you reply. Don’t neglect other customers who reach out to you to give all your attention to one isolated incident. But also know when to prioritize social interactions that need your assistance the most. If you have an angry customer who has been charged twice for an order complaining on Twitter and another customer who has direct messaged you simply asking what your regular hours of operation are, you will most likely want to help the angry customer first. After all, the second customer can find their answer other ways.

3. Expect new levels of outrage 

Equipped with a keyboard and cloaked with a computer screen, a person is more likely to say something hurtful online than face-to-face. This means that customers are prone to ranting on a social media platform (or several) if something goes wrong. The best a brand can do is move the conversation over to private message, find out the root of the problem, practice empathy, and offer a clear solution.

4. Be wary of basic chatbots 

As handy as chatbots may be, they’re not meant to replace the entire customer service experience. Be wary of primitive chatbots that sound more bot than brand. Customers want to know that there is an actual human helping them out on the other side and chatbots can be a little disparaging. Creating the right chatbot plugin for Facebook Messenger requires time and resources to get it right.

5. The need to outshine competition 

As more brands begin to adopt social media for customer service, you’ll have to find new and creative ways for your company’s own customer service to stand out. 24/7 support channels, sophisticated chatbots, advanced social listening tools, and offering more flexibility and freebies are some ways to

What do you think of using social media for customer service? Have you experienced any customer service interactions on social media that stand out? Tweet us or let us know in the comments below.