There's no question that using social media for customer service is something that every company should be doing. We recently highlighted 10 ways that you can use customer service to improve your company's customer service through social channels, so if you need some more good ideas after this you should check that out.
If my word isn't good enough for you on the subject (even though it would hurt a little), I've decided to give you some more information about the subject and present some examples of how some of the biggest businesses are doing it well. You should also know that 71% of customers take to online customer service because they don't get answers or resolutions through traditional channels, and 74% try three or more customer service channels to get their issues resolved.
Which Channel Should You Use?
The correct answer to that question will always be "all of them", if it's possible within your time and resources to do so. As a matter of practicality however, Twitter is definitely the top choice if there is a choice to be made. What about Facebook, you ask? After all, Facebook has more users than Twitter - or any other social network - by far! While that's true, it doesn't mean that the way consumers use Facebook necessarily conforms to a customer service channel, at least compared to Twitter.
Facebook's immense user base contains a large number of people who don't really even understand what social media is. Mom and dad, or even grandma and grandpa, use the site to keep up with their family and friends that lives a distance away. Statistically speaking, they don't go much deeper than that online. They are the smallest demographic of online shoppers, for instance. So, it stands to reason that if they aren't making purchases online, they also aren't looking to social media for customer service issues.
Another way to gauge whether you should choose Facebook or Twitter is to look to the experience of others. A year ago 77% of the Fortune 500 companies were using Twitter (not necessarily for customer service), with the Huffington Post predicting that all of them would be there in the coming few years. Also, whenever you read a story about businesses using social customer service it rarely references Facebook, almost coming across as an assumption that Twitter is more ideal for that aspect of social business.
This is certainly not to say that it's not alright to use both, and that would likely be a wiser choice. In fact, Google+ is even making a strong showing in this area in some cases, simply because of the use of Hangouts video chatting and the widespread use of Android devices. Don't limit yourself unnecessarily, but if you need to focus on one customer service channel, it should be Twitter. The easiest way to eliminate this conundrum is to use a social media management dashboard that will gather your feeds from across all channels into a single place. Problem solved.
Nike is well known for their excellent customer service online, and they were one of the first to figure out that a dedicated customer service channel was a good idea. One of the things that makes them so good is their quick responses and the fact that they're there 7 days a week. They also tweet with their @NikeSupport handle far more than their @Nike marketing channel. Far more. As of today the support channel had over 348K tweets, while the @Nike handle had tweeted only just over 17K times! As you can see below, their response time is usually less than an hour - 39 minutes in this case, and the response is great.
@AskTarget is another very responsive Twitter channel for customer service issues. They keep it upbeat, try to answer questions and solve problems quickly, and never get testy with their customers. You'll notice that quick responses are common among the companies who do social media customer service well. In this case they took 3 hours, but compared to most they're still well on top of things.
Zappos has been synonymous with excellent customer service since day one, so it's no surprise that they would also be one of the best companies when it comes to social customer service. One thing that sets them apart from even the others in this list is that they have a dedicated support channel that is available 24/7. When a new rep starts their shift, they introduce themselves. They have conversations with people - about things other than shoes, like the weather or the coffee they enjoy. Check this interaction out:
How do you follow that up? By turning it into a sale, of course:
Don't you want to hire that person right now? And they are quick to let people know when things happen, like their call center being down for maintenance. Now that's good customer service!
JetBlue is another company known for excellent customer service, both on and offline. Their quick and pleasant responses have earned them a great reputation, even if the person didn't mean to contact them:
And in the following example, they ask to know more about a damaging customer service issue on the ground with one of their flights, again within only a few minutes. Also note that the interaction wasn't instigated by the customer, but was a result of them monitoring for potential interactions:
How does the Xbox team know that they're doing a good job on Twitter with customer service? They actually hold a world record for it. No kidding. Guinness lists them as the "Most Responsive Brand on Twitter", and that's quite a title. They're known as the "Elite Tweet Fleet", and their engagement is obvious by looking at their numbers. They currently have passed 1.75 million tweets, and are actually following 213K Twitter users. How's this for customer service:
If you check out their feed, you'll see why they rate so highly in the twitterverse. Those guys stay busy. Another note on best practices from them: they clearly state on their profile what hours and days they are open. Keep that in mind.