Social media is an increasingly vital part of every company’s customer service operations – with digitally-led teams working to answer enquiries in real time and connect with customers and potential customers directly. However, as social media customer service is still in its infancy, plenty of companies find themselves making a few key mistakes – here are the ones to avoid.

Responding robotically

The humanity of social media customer service is one of the main factors which appeal to customers – so this is no time to issue a robotic, one-size-fits-all response. If someone sends a message, be sure to issue a well-considered and thoughtful reply. This approach goes a long way towards building trust in your organisation and will be sure to boost your professional reputation – as well as giving your company a chance to hone its voice when handling customer enquiries.

Ignoring negative comments

It can be tempting to only respond to praise and positive comments or mentions – but knowing how to respond to negative feedback is essential for offering great social media customer service. There are many reasons why this approach is so important, but your followers will be watching your social pages to see how your brand handles conflict just as much as they will be watching to learn more about the company. Being able to solve problems for customers is absolutely critical – and will help affirm a positive image of the business. Always respond to negative comments, but be sure to do so tactfully and considerately, offer solutions wherever possible and apologies whenever necessary.

Asking too much of customers

Try and keep communication to the social media channel where it started as much as possible. Even the keenest of customers don’t necessarily want to be referred on to a separate e-mail or phone number – though this can easily seem like an efficient way of handling enquiries. In actual fact it sometimes merely gives your customers the sense that you have no intention of handling their reason for contacting you – and can be very bad for customer service. Keep it simple.

Waiting too long to reply

The immediate nature of social media calls for an equally snappy response time. Many companies set their response threshold at 24 or 48 hours, but those with a larger customer service team or a smaller number of messages may wish to set a target of hours rather than days. If you reply swiftly, it helps customers know that you’ll be on hand should something go wrong – and that you value their feedback.