Social media customer service is tricky. If you respond to comments formally and robotically, you risk harming your brand’s perception and alienating customers. But if you infuse too much personality, your words might be misunderstood.
So, how can you write the perfect answer to social media comments?
An answer that addresses the customer’s issue while upholding your brand?
Ecommerce companies are tasked with maintaining this balance every day. (Particularly companies that spend a lot on social media ads.) These brands are inundated with comments on their promoted content from happy customers, unhappy customers, prospective customers, and social media trolls.
In this post, we explore the depths of using social media for customer service.
Read on for tips and plenty of examples.
Spending a lot on Facebook ads? (You need great social media customer service)
If you spend a lot of money on Facebook and Instagram ads, you’ll undoubtedly get dozens of comments per day. You can’t afford to ignore them.
Why your responses to comments matter
Responding to social media comments on your ecommerce posts and ads is critical.
74% of consumers rely on social media to help them make purchasing decisions. 71% are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral.
While the design and copy of your posts and ads are important, the comment section has equal swaying power.
Potential customers scope out the comments in an ad from an ecommerce company. They’ll read the positive comments, the negative comments, and how your company replies to both.
An amazing customer endorsement can fall flat if your brand didn’t comment with a grateful reply and simply ignored your raving fan.
Meanwhile, a customer complaint can have a less disastrous impact on a shopper’s purchasing decision if you reply and seek resolution with the customer.
How to excel at social commerce
Social commerce is a booming trend. TikTok is building out Shopify shopping capabilities in the app. Meanwhile, Facebook is also adding a Shopify pay button, and the social media platform already allows small ecommerce businesses to run a shop directly from their business page.
These social commerce developments are designed to keep consumers in the social media app, to the benefit of both parties (the social platform and the ecommerce business).
Consumers can be converted to paying customers without having to leave the app. This reduces the required steps to making a purchase, and increases conversions.
By responding to social media comments like a pro, your ecommerce company can also capture this social commerce trend. You’ll reduce the need for customers to go and read reviews elsewhere. They can get answers to their questions right in the social media channel. They can read the answers that your team has already written to other commenters.
By reducing the review-hunting step, you can increase conversions. Customers that have read comment threads can feel comfortable making a purchase immediately.
Top ways that customers engage with your posts and ads
They feel comfortable giving their opinion and speaking directly with a brand.
The top ways that customers engage with posts and ads are product endorsements, negative reviews, customer support complaints, and product questions.
Here’s an example of a customer commenting on a social media ad with a favorable opinion of the product:
These sorts of comments can have a huge impact on your conversions. While it’s hard to measure the exact impact, you might find that ads with a lot of positive comments perform better than new ads or ads with fewer comments.
Why customers reach out through social media platforms
But some ecommerce companies are hesitant to spend too much time providing social media customer service. The management of the company might feel frustrated by the expectation to respond there, rather than through their customer support software.
If someone at your company is advocating against allocating support time to social media comments, ask them to consider customers’ needs.
Ultimately, the most successful ecommerce businesses get as close to their customers as possible. They listen to feedback and open up lines of communication on customers’ terms.
Customers leave important comments on your social media posts and ads because:
- It fits with their user flow – Consumers don’t want to have to leave their favorite social media app to find where else to communicate with you.
- They have come to expect a response – Because so many ecommerce brands excel at social media customer service, consumers expect all brands to respond to their comments.
- They want to feel like they have direct access to your brand – This goes beyond just getting a response. Customers want to feel heard and seen by your brand. They want to know that you offer true customer care, not just basic service.
If after empathizing with customers, someone at your company still doesn’t see the need to invest in customer service on social media channels, the following statistic might help…
A whopping 83% of global consumers expect a response time of 24 hours or sooner.
That stat alone could be the ammunition you need to get your company on board with allocating time towards social media responses.
Social media customer service strategy
What’s the strategy behind social media customer service?
It comes down to two key things:
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Converting new customers
Let’s take a look at how to excel at both:
How to increase customer satisfaction
The comments section of your social media posts and ads offers an amazing opportunity to strengthen customer retention.
You might be able to discover:
- Ways to improve your products
- Ways to bundle your products, update your pricing model, offer subscriptions, etc.
- Potential brand ambassadors
- Potential user generated content creators
- Widespread product issues warranting refunds or recalls
- Copy or design ideas to attract more customers with new ads
- Product testimonials to include in ads or landing pages
- Ways to increase clarity in your website pages regarding what’s included with a product, where to locate information, etc.
There are so many incredibly valuable things you can get out of reading and responding to your social media comments, so don’t think of this as just a burden.
For example, in this comment thread, a customer points out the difficulty of finding information for an art subscription box, much like some of the customer reviews examples you've seen. The social media manager politely accepts the feedback and promises to talk to the team about fixing the issue.
The company not only assists the customer hunting for the information, but also proactively fixes the issue so that other customers don’t experience the same confusion.
You can also drive brand loyalty by engaging with your biggest fans. For example, if a customer often posts positive review comments on your ads, you might thank them with a free gift.
Use social media to drive deeper relationships with your existing customers. Listen to them, heed their guidance, and find ways to thank those who go out of their way to support your business.
How to drive new customers
Use social media comments to convert new customers? Yes, it really is possible.
Here are the key ways to grow your customer base through social media comments:
- Respond to customer issues helpfully – It’s important that you reply politely and helpfully to your current customers. Prospective customers will be paying attention to how you resolve issues. If you don’t respond or respond in a rude or unhelpful way, prospective customers might not purchase from you.
- Respond to prospective customers’ questions – You also need to quickly respond to prospective customers questions. They might ask for help with purchasing the right product or they might have questions about what’s included with the product.
- Uplift positive comments – You should also respond to very positive comments about your products or company. This shows potential customers that you care about your current customers and that you appreciate the time and effort they put into saying something kind about your brand. For example, you might write something like “Thanks so much for letting us know. We’re so happy you love it.”
Here’s an example of a smart way to convert commenters into customers. The commenter is asking for help choosing the right foundation color, and the social media manager responds with the link to take their quiz.
The company has wisely signed up for Bitly’s paid plan to offer easy-to-remember short links in their responses on social networks.
The comment got 31 likes. So, not only did the original commenter get access to the link, but many others saw the response as well. You can use social media customer support to drive traffic to your important website pages.
The Bitly link redirects to a quiz. After submitting all of the quiz answers, the user needs to offer up their email address to get their results.
IL Makiage is wisely using social media comments as a way to grow their email list and offer exact product recommendations.
The most common social comments (with example answers from ecommerce companies)
How should your team members respond to social media comments? Across all of your social profiles, and especially where you run ads, you might run into the following types of comments.
Read on for example comments and effective customer service responses.
Shopper concerns and questions
One of the most common types of social media customer care required is simply answering questions and concerns. Potential customers will ask questions in social media comments about products of yours that they haven’t tried yet.
In this example, a customer asks about whether a foundation will be so heavy that it will cover her characteristic freckles. The social media manager offers an excellent response by sharing that the coverage is buildable.
In this example, a social media manager assures the potential customer that the product won’t exacerbate acne.
Note that the response quells concerns by sharing specific product details (oil-free and water-based).
Similarly, the customer service team member or social media manager handles a question with the opposite concern. One commenter worries about how the product will affect dry skin. The response features specific product details to address the issue (hyaluronic acid and vitamin E).
Details are the best way to address customer concerns. Just take a look at this example with features a very thorough response about the number guards included in a beard trimmer.
Your paying customers might ask questions as well. This is your chance to drum up excitement with current customers, engage with them on an emotional level, and show that you’re here to provide excellent customer service, even on social media.
In this example, a customer asks about whether or not the ad is featuring the next month’s art subscription box.
By answering with an upbeat tone, the social media manager gets the customer and other people reading the comment excited to receive the subscription box.
You’ll also receive customer endorsements and positive reviews in the comments section of your social media ads.
If you get an enthusiastic comment, don’t let it go unnoticed. You should reply to all of the detailed comment reviews you receive from customers.
Check out this example. The social media manager makes it clear that they are ready to offer excellent customer service if needed.
When reading this response, prospective customers can see that the company cares about their results and is available to happy to provide customer service solutions.
This can increase potential customers’ likelihood of purchasing from you.
Of course, you’re likely to receive customer complaints as well.
You might get negative reviews about the delivery date, the cost of returns, or even the product itself.
Check out this example response, which deftly handles a negative review.
When customer support shouldn’t respond
Social media monitoring is critical. But that doesn’t mean you have to respond to every comment written across your entire social media presence.
If you respond to certain comments, it could come off as creepy.
For example, social media users will often tag each other in the comments sections of ads they find intriguing or humorous. They might recommend one of your products to a friend.
In this case, they are not expecting the social media manager or customer support team to respond to them. They are expecting a response from their friend.
If someone from your company responds and says something like “You should buy them!” or “You would love them!” it will appear too pushy and salesy. Worse, the social media users might feel like you are infringing on their private conversation. Although these comments are public, to the users they are more like private messages.
If customers tag other users, not you, don’t respond unless there are serious service issues, such as product malfunctions or delivery delays mentioned in the comments.
You also don’t need to respond to very short positive comments like “love this!” You can simply like the comment if it’s something positive but lacks depth and detail.
Crafting the perfect social media customer service response
Customer service agents and social media managers can’t prepare for everything. Sometimes, comments will catch you off guard.
To offer amazing social media customer service, follow these steps every time.
1. Take time to fully understand the context
While responding quickly is important, you don’t want to respond too quickly. If you rush your response, you might miss out an important element.
For example, if someone asks about the nutritional value of a product, you might quickly offer a canned response. But if you consider the context of the ad, which talks about weight loss rather than speed of cooking like your other ads, this might help you highlight more relevant product details.
2. Craft your response, following these guidelines
When you’re sure you’ve got all the contextual information required to respond, you can go ahead and craft your response.
Make sure you hit these important points:
- Answer the question clearly
- Backup your answer with real, specific product details and information
- Thank the customer in a way that matches your brand voice
- If it fits your product, ask them to keep you posted of further results
- Let them know you’re here for them if they have any questions
- Empathize with the customer
- Accept their feedback in a mature way (as opposed to disagreeing with them or attempting to silence them)
- Share the potential resolution
- Divert the customer towards your helpdesk, knowledge base, or customer service team (as appropriate)
In all interactions, the customer service experience should match your brand’s personality.
3. For contentious issues, get approval before responding
Companies can get themselves in hot water when they’re too quick to respond to controversial comments. You might need to run your answer by your PR or communications team, especially if the topic is about sustainability, equity, diversity and inclusion, or the founders’ political beliefs or actions.
Here’s an example response to a question about plastic use reduction:
Sometimes, you might need to get a second opinion from the head of customer support for simple questions. Contentious responses don’t always have to be about political hot-button issues.
Here’s a great example response to a customer being shocked that there isn’t a customer support hotline.
You don’t need to get every response reviewed. But when in doubt, play it safe and get a second opinion from the head of social media management or communications.
4. Respond to the comment, and create a ticket if needed
When you’ve got the right response, go ahead and comment. Don’t forget to tag the person you’re responding to.
If the social media commenter brought up an important customer support issue, you should create a ticket for the comment thread in your customer service software.
This way, you can track the resolution.
5. Make sure customer support sees the issue through to resolution
With a ticket open in your helpdesk, you won’t have to worry about remembering to check if the person wrote back. Instead, you’ll be able to see that open ticket, and you can then click through to the post or ad with the comment thread.
If it’s an important issue (the customer wants a return or hasn’t received their product in the mail), you should do one follow up comment and tag them to make sure they saw your response.
Follow these guidelines to social media customer service, and you’ll gain new fans while deepening your connection with your current customers.