A social media marketer I spoke with at a conference described her small business’ social customer service processes like this: When a complaint came in she would shout downstairs to the single customer service person, and they would work together to resolve the customer’s issue.

But large companies obviously need to do more than “shout downstairs.” Today, a majority of customers have used social media for customer service issues. And as more customers take their complaints online, scaling customer service capabilities to meet hundreds or thousands of complaints a day will become even more pressing.

Here are five ways to scale your customer service through social media.

1. One-to-Many Support

Not only is it convenient for customers to take their complaints to social media, but it saves companies money as well. While a customer service agent is talking to a customer on the phone, another agent can respond to several customer inquiries though social media. Businesses are starting to take note of the efficiencies that come with replacing one-to-one support with a one-to-many model: Econsultancy found that more than half of companies use Facebook for reacting to customer issues and inquiries, compared to only 29 percent last year.

2. Peer-to-Peer Communities

Many companies are launching communities to enable support between customers. This is good for customers as they know the advice they are getting is from a peer who understands their perspective, and saves costs for the company as well. Gartner estimated that when a question is asked in a P2P community, it costs 5 percent of what it would if a direct call was made to a support agent.

3. Advocacy Programs

Within any community, some members will be super engaged, contributing a disproportionate amount of value. In a P2P support community, these advocates go the extra mile to help other customers solve problems and optimize their customer experience. The highest level of support advocates — those in the top 0.5 percent of responders — can contribute up to half of a support community’s solutions. To engage and retain this key audience, smart businesses are launching formal advocate programs.

4. Top Tips Blog

There’s an old adage that the best customer service is no customer service, and the same is true online. Some companies, like Zendesk and Mailchimp, publish how-to’s and demos for new customers who are setting up their first account, as well as for repeat customers who want to make the most of the product. By providing self-service information that customers can discover through familiar tools like a Google search, brands can ensure customers never have to pick up the phone to call or tweet.

5.  Customer Feedback Loops

Your customers are a key source of information when something isn’t working. By monitoring social product mentions, CRAVE America restaurants was able to identify negative feedback about one of its signature drinks and adjust the recipe. By identifying and removing negative customer experiences, companies can reduce the overall load of customer complaints so agents can focus on the comments that really matter.

Companies with large consumer bases should be developing the processes, technology and expertise that will help them bring their existing customer service teams to bear on social complaints. Many big businesses are leading the way, in fact 40 percent of organizations with more than 1,000 agents in the contact centre have been doing social customer service for the past two years – a better record than either small or medium businesses. Is your company ready to respond to hundreds or thousands of customer complaints through social media?

Customer Support Team image from Bigstock.

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