Behind the flurry of virtual photo albums, the latest celebrity gossip and day-to-day updates condensed into just 140 characters, there exists a forum for customer service. More and more often, customers are turning to social networks to engage with brands, seeking support and offering both positive and negative feedback.
While the conversation between brands and customers on social may have begun organically, these engagements are now encouraged and supported by the networks that host them. Recent updates to Facebook and Twitter have been geared directly toward improving companies’ ability to engage with customers and offer support.
It’s a win-win … win, if you think about it. Social networks give both brands and users another reason to visit their platform, businesses are able to collect and address feedback quickly and customers can get the support they need without having to make a call or fill out a form.
Social customer service is getting easier and more intuitive by the minute, thanks to what has become a steady stream of platform updates. The question is, then: What’s new and how does it impact my ability to communicate with customers? You may not care about Facebook Messenger’s new basketball game or Twitter’s improvements for Moments, but there are a number of updates you should care about. Here are a few recent changes worth checking out:
What’s new on Facebook
It’s no secret that having a Facebook presence is strategic and, at this point, a necessary move for businesses. Ever since the creation of Facebook pages in 2007, the platform has welcomed companies and consumers alike. A number of recent updates, built upon the original vision for 0ages, have expanded what’s possible for brands and opened up new ways for communicating.
Chat bot application-programming interface: In early April, Facebook granted businesses access to its chat bot API, which allows brands to create bots for Messenger. With an increasing number of customers turning to Facebook’s messaging application to engage with brands, these bots allow companies to keep up with the increasing number of inbounds with automated conversations. While bots won’t replace human interaction anytime soon, they are tools that are capable of adding a personal touch to automation, and they can speed up customer service by tackling simple questions, such as, “Is this item in stock?,” or, “Can I make an appointment for Friday?”
Messenger links and codes: Facebook introduced new links and scannable codes that allow customers to navigate from a business’ page directly to a private Facebook Messenger conversation. These links and codes can be placed in the business description section, shared in response to a comment or even handed out during in-store interactions as a means for continual support.
Promoted responsiveness: Pages now allow brands to promote how responsive they are to messages. Companies that respond to 90 percent of inquiries within five minutes can add a “Very Responsive” badge to their page. Additionally, administrators may opt, instead, for a badge that states the average response time explicitly. Not only does this transparency push businesses to respond quickly, but it encourages customers to seek help from brands on Facebook. Customers will know how long they can expect to wait for a response and are therefore more likely to give it a try rather than calling a help line.
New and improved pages inbox: As part of the same update, Facebook introduced new functionality for business page inboxes that provide context about each customer. With this feature, admins can access past interactions, as well as publicly shared information—such as location and age—to better serve each customer. Admins are also able to leave notes about customers and sort conversations into categories. When leveraged properly, these features allow brands to tailor responses to each individual customer, offer more intuitive support and build upon previous engagements.
What’s new on Twitter
If you’re questioning Twitter’s commitment to creating customer service features for brands, check out its Customer Service Playbook. This is a company that recognizes the vast possibilities for customer service on its platform and isn’t shy about it. Since Twitter’s launch in 2006, brands have used the platform as a marketing method, and they are growing to more frequently use it as a customer-service tool, too.
Customer Feedback Tool: Social networks are known for generating unsolicited feedback (which is great), but with Twitter’s new update, brands can privately request feedback from customers, as well. Using traditional NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) methods, companies can request customers to participate in surveys housed within Twitter. What’s more, that data can be easily stored on Twitter, and customer-service reps are able to follow up with customized replies to thank people for their participation.
Direct message updates: In a wave of updates to Twitter’s DM feature, the platform has made it easier for companies to engage with customers when 140 characters just won’t cut it. Companies and customers are now able to initiate a DM even if they aren’t following each other. Additionally, companies can include a link to private message within their reply to customer. That way, brands can easily offer additional help in a private setting. The result: A quickly serviced customer and money saved by avoiding a potential support call.
What’s next: Snapchat and Instagram
As Facebook and Twitter pioneer the way for customer service on social, it’s possible that other platforms will follow suit. While Snapchat and Instagram may seem to be unlikely candidates for fostering customer conversations, the same could have been said about Twitter—limited to just 140 characters, the platform could have been dismissed as unsuitable for communicating with customers. But that clearly isn’t the case.
Snapchat’s platform opens potential for engaging with users via video tutorials, instructive photos and beyond. With new chat features being added, the platform has become more conducive to long-form customer interactions.
As for Instagram, the platform’s announcement of a new algorithm for sorting photos is a step in the wrong direction. However; it’s not a nail in the coffin by any means. The truth of the matter is that brands hold the power when it comes to bringing social customer service to new platforms. All it takes is a little bit of creativity.
Elizabeth Clor is the senior director of marketing at customer intelligence platform Clarabridge.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Article courtesy of SocialTimes