A time-strapped marketer’s guide

This Q&A with me was originally published on B2B Marketing

Q: “I have limited bandwidth for social, but this has become part of CX. How do I best manage my time? How fast, and how thoroughly, do I need to respond to customer inquiries on social?”

You may be using social media for marketing, but your customers are likely to be using it for service and support. While responding to social media inquiries is just another task on your long marcom to-do list, customers expect a response in a timely manner. They have a question, need help and want an answer quickly. Depending on your company’s products and services, how fast is fast will vary, but consider this—if it was a phone call, what would be an acceptable response time? If a customer service rep only picked up the phone once every few hours, would that be okay? Of course not! So why would some companies deem it okay for a social media inquiry? If you are providing help via social media, then it should meet the same standards as the company’s other customer channels.

Customers expect almost an immediate response – and if you have limited resources, this isn’t realistic. But you can help manage expectations. Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers, but you do need to respond in a helpful way. Simply acknowledging that the inquiry was received and conveying how and when someone will get back to him or her is a great way to handle communications when you lack big budgets and 24/7 customer support. Make sure you have an internal process documented (e.g., who, how long) for common inquiries so information is consistently communicated and agreed upon with company stakeholders. For those times when a complaint is urgent or particularly unpleasant, have an escalation plan. Later on, when things are resolved, circle back and post the information for other followers to benefit from and make sure the unhappy person is satisfied with the results. It shows that your company is responsive and reinforces the use of that social media channel as a valuable content source.

If you can’t respond right away, consider posting times when someone is available for an immediate response and offer alternative channels for help. Always provide customers with a source for answers when the support method they chose isn’t available.

Above all, make sure you are investing your efforts where they matter most – where your audience lives. If you are spread too thin and not responding in a timely and genuine way that reflects positively on your brand, maybe it’s time to rethink your social media strategy. Maintaining a large number of social media channels is time-consuming, so focus on where your customers are most active and engaged, and where you see a return on your investment.

A person’s interaction with your company on social media is just one part of the customer experience. Responding quickly can help with customer retention and brand loyalty. People will do business with you again if their experience is good. Either way, social media users will talk. How you respond can influence whether what they say is good or bad.

Read the Q&A on B2B Marketing

Categories: Marketing