Every business works with customers, making good customer service one of the most important skills a business of any age or size can strive for. In today’s modern, technologically driven world, many consumers turn to social media for product reviews, both positive and negative. Social media has two ways to communicate with businesses: publicly and privately. No matter what method your customer chooses to engage in a dialogue with you, your customer service skills are needed.

Responding Publicly to Customers.

When customers compliment your business, product, or service, the response in the public forum is quite easy. Thank the person who gave the compliment quickly and sincerely. You can also ask this person to leave you an official review elsewhere. It never hurts to ask, even if they don’t do it. Potential customers may be impressed with your personal communication, and therefore, you may have earned a new customer.

A negative commenter or reviewer on social media also needs to be treated with the same respect as one who leaves something positive. That being said, your company needs a very specific policy on how to handle complaints. You may even want one very respectful response planned and ready. This response should acknowledge, apologize, and suggest you both take the conversation out of the public eye and into the private arena for a resolution. Resolving the issue privately protects your reputation and allows the customer to engage in a conversation with you.

Responding to general questions and concerns publicly should be handled tactfully. Create an “FAQ” section on your company’s website to help do this quickly. If able, you can refer the questioner to the page. You could also respond to any public question privately if you prefer. Remember that anything said online never truly disappears, so carefully review any statements you make in both the public and private view.

Responding Privately to Customers.

Private messaging is a great way to engage in communication and customer service. You may need to hire additional support employees to keep up with the volume of questions and concerns. If there is a lot of troubleshooting that is needed, consider creating a “support only” social media account. That way your main account is free to post content and advertise. A reminder to keep up a website to help with question based customer service traffic.

With any social media based customer service, you should adhere to these three principles: respond quickly, respond personably and respectfully, and most importantly, listen and acknowledge your customer’s words, both positive and negative.