Responding to Customer Comments Using Social Media

4 Oct 2016
Alan Martin

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How quickly do you respond to customer messages on Facebook?

Would it surprise you to learn that 42% of your potential customers expect a response within an hour?

A mistake that some businesses make is to use social media only to broadcast their messages, with very little attempt made to respond to customer comments. At best this is a missed opportunity to engage with highly motivated fans, but at worst it can be incredibly damaging to your reputation if customer questions are left unanswered.

It is worth pointing out that there is a real disconnect between what companies think is a reasonable response time and what customers expect when attempting to contact a business for support via social media.

According to a study carried out by Edison Research, 9% of consumers surveyed expected a response within 5 minutes, 32% within 30 minutes and 42% within an hour. Alarmingly for companies, 57% of consumers also expect the same response time during the evening and weekend.

To encourage businesses to tackle this issue Facebook introduced two new metrics for business pages, which measure how they are responding to customer messages. These metrics show admins their response rate and time, allowing them to monitor and improve their responsiveness over time.

Page owners can also get a publicly visible “very responsive to messages” icon, but need to meet two specific metrics over a 7 day period. They need to have responded to 90% of their messages and have an average response time of 5 minutes for all replies sent. Pages that respond to at least 75% of the messages within a day or less can have their response time shown on the page.

On the positive side, research conducted by Parature (a Microsoft company) shows that responding to customer messages gives customers a more favorable view of your brand, so social listening is not just good practice, it makes good business sense too. Facebook have also come to the rescue of busy page owners by giving them the option to create auto-response messages.

Remember to keep a close eye on private messages, user comments as well as comments on ads, so that you can respond to any questions in a timely manner and you don’t miss any opportunities to engage.

Ninja Tip – When a fan comments on your Facebook post it is a good idea to tag that person in your response. Not only is this more personal but it will make your response more likely to be seen by that person, as they will get an email notification from Facebook that they have been tagged.

The Tools

Fortunately there are a lot of tools that you can use to help you monitor and respond to comments on the social web. Most social media platforms have their own notifications to alert you, but what if these mentions happen off of your page, for example in a blog or on a platform where you don’t have a presence?

You could easily miss these if you are not using appropriate tools to help you actively listen to what’s being said online!If you don’t want to spend money on social listening tools you can set up Google Alerts to inform you of comments made online. If you are a solopreneur this is a reasonable way to get started, but I would also suggest that you use another tool such as HootSuite to monitor what’s being said on Twitter and make sure you are receiving platform notifications from all the social networks that you are active on.

Facebook have introduced a ‘Saved Replies feature that helps page admins to quickly respond to incoming messages with pre-written messages.  This takes a lot of the leg work out of responding to common questions and can help improve response time.

They have also introduced a ‘Response Assistant’ (accessed through the ‘Messaging’ tab within ‘Settings’) that allows you to pre-write auto-response messages that people receive when they message the page.

 

 response-assistant

 

If you have a slightly larger organisation with a few members of staff or you find you are missing customer comments with the above approach, a more robust solution for you might be to invest in a tool like ‘Mention“. This tool will collate all mentions of your company from across the social web, but what’s cool about Mention is that it allows the user to assign customer comments to other members of staff for them to respond to.

Although this not a free tool they are currently offering a 14 day trial with no credit card required, so you can give it a whirl to see whether it would be a good fit for your organisation.

For very large companies, an enterprise level listening system such as Radian6 from Exact Target would be worth considering.

Conclusion

With many customers choosing to communicate with businesses they interact with via social media, it is vital that you have a system in place to monitor and respond to customer comments as quickly as possible. Instead of viewing this as a chore, something that you need to build into an already busy schedule, you should view your responsiveness as a source of competitive advantage.

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