If your company or brand has a Facebook page, whether you like it or not, you now have a new customer service platform. Customers will flock to your Facebook page not only to become faithful fans, but also to access support, ask questions and (unfortunately) post complaints.
According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, 62 percent of social media users believe they can influence business decisions by voicing opinions via new media channels. This fact alone should be motivation enough to treat your Facebook page as a customer service platform.
If your company has a customer service or technical support department or team, it should be assigned the task of monitoring the Facebook page for customer service and tech support issues. But beware. Customer service and tech support reps are notorious for providing canned, impersonal responses, especially when replying via e-mail and live chat, and on Facebook that type of approach doesn't fly.
On Facebook, maintaining a conversational tone is imperative. If a customer service or technical support representative can't be conversational, either train the individual or keep him assigned to support channels where canned and impersonal responses are still somehow acceptable.
Keep in mind that unlike an e-mail response, your responses on Facebook are potentially visible to everyone and can leave a lasting impression. Always put your best foot forward by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Respond quickly. Don't allow a service-related item to be left hanging for everyone to see (to see that you didn't respond to it). Respond as quickly as possible.
- Be proactive. Post service or tech support-related solutions as status updates, so they are more visible than merely comments to Wall posts. This adds value to your Facebook page and can potentially prevent an onslaught of questions or complaints over the same issue.
- Have a strategy for nights and weekends. If your Facebook page is being hammered overnight or over the weekend with service and tech support-related posts, either monitor your site 24/7 or change the default view for Wall settings from "All Posts" to "Only Posts by Page" during overnight and weekend hours. This enables customers to post comments, questions, or complaints but prevents them from seeing posts by others (unless they choose to override the default setting).
- Don't post a personally-identifiable e-mail address when leaving comments. For example, "Please e-mail me at email@example.com" when responding to a customer on Facebook. If you do, customers will pounce on that address and send everything to it, meaning your company will potentially lose the ability to monitor collective trends and related metrics. Use a generic e-mail address instead. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Check spelling and grammar before posting a response. Correct spelling and grammar show you care.
- Don't use 'I' statements. Brands are all about "we," "us," and "our."
- Keep public relations and corporate communications in the loop. They need to know what your customer service and tech support teams are up to so your company or brand is expressing a consistent message.
- Share your wins. Not everyone is going to post negative comments. Many people will pop onto your Facebook page to post about how much they love your products or brands. Share that information internally among the customer service and tech support team members. Everyone could stand to hear good news, especially if all they usually hear are complaints.
A Facebook page can be a boon or a bust for your business or brand. It all depends on how you manage your page and your customer relations. Treat your page as a valuable customer service platform, and you'll be on the right track.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.