7 Ways to Improve B2B Customer Service with Social Media

Customer service is a growing application of social media for B2B companies. In many organizations, social media started with marketing or communications department, and as they began monitoring for brand mentions, they quickly discovered they were intermediaries between the customer and the customer service department. If you have not yet brought your customer service reps into the realm of social media, it is time. They are the most qualified to respond via social media, as they are the ones responding by phone and email. While they probably need some basic social media training, the following ideas can help them become comfortable and successful using social media.

1. A Monitoring Workflow
The person monitoring for mentions, whether they are in corporate communications or customer service, needs to know what to do with customer service requests when they find them. Are you working in real time and these questions need to get to the customer service reps immediately? Does everything funnel through the department manager? Is there a single person on the customer service team responsible for responding on social media? Make sure you have set internal expectations for a response time. And make sure you can track responses by the customer service team, whether in CRM-type tool, or even a social media management tool like CoTweet or Hootsuite where you can assign tasks to team members.

2. Response Time Policy
If you already have established customer service response times, for example always responding to emails the same day, or within 24 hours, develop a social media response time that fits within the culture of your organization. Make sure it is something that you can meet, because you want to post this publicly and set customers’ expectations for a response. Keep in mind that posting a long window of time may demonstrate to your customers that real-time customer service is not something you can handle.

3. Social Media Etiquette
While customer service reps have always been on the front lines representing the company, if they will now be responding using social media, they need to understand the etiquette of the platforms. Some people can get a bit snarky when posting on social networks, and some of that grows out of the informal nature of the conversations. Informal or slightly fun is okay in your responses, however, they also need to be serious. Customers and prospects need to know that your company is taking them seriously. Also make sure everyone understands the public nature of social media, and how quickly a misstep can be shared and spread.

4. Post Answers to Common Questions on Your Blog
Your customer service reps can tell you the 10 most common questions asked by customers and prospects. Write a blog post for each one of them and use keywords in the titles so people can find them using search. This is the inbound marketing approach to customer service. Providing self-service answers on a blog is an efficient way to get people answers to their questions. Consider using short videos as ways to answer these questions too. Product managers are good people to recruit for these videos, as they can speak authoritatively about the products. Customer support people also have the technical knowledge to do this, and it starts to put a face on your customer service team.

5. Create a Response List for Common Questions
The outbound version of answering those most common questions is to prepare short answers for each platform, for example under 140 characters for Twitter, that includes a link to the blog post that answers the question more fully. This doesn’t mean always send the same “canned” tweet in response to a particular question, but give your customer service reps the basics to respond quickly and easily. Share this list with others on the team, especially product or sales people who engage on LinkedIn. This way they can respond to questions and include links to blog posts with more information.

6. Show Off Your Superstars
Customer service reps frequently toil in anonymity. Even though they say their name at the beginning of a call, most people don’t hear it, or don’t pay attention to it unless there is a problem. As one of the key benefits of social media is that it allows your B2B company to present itself as a group of people rather than a faceless monolith, put your customer service people out front and center. Many companies list who is tweeting, or even on-duty, in a Twitter bio. Some companies add initials to individual tweets so people know who is responding. And for larger organizations, customer service people have individual Twitter accounts with their name and the company name in the handle. Now that Facebook lets you shows Admins and post as yourself, these are two opportunities to respond as an individual person, rather than the company or Page.

7. Know When to Take It Offline
Simple responses to common questions can, and should, happen publicly. But real issues that require research or detailed conversations need to move offline. As soon as an issue is identified in this category, respond publicly with an email address or a request to send contact information via Twitter Direct Message. Other people following your company need to see a response, and the customer with an issue may require a response that is longer, and not appropriate for public channels. Frequently, customers who have raised issues using social media will post a positive comment once the issue is resolved. The ongoing perception that your company cares about its customers and wants to solve customer issues is important. If this is not true, using social media will be a challenge.

What are other ways to help customer services reps become more adept at responding using social media?

B2B Marketing and Social Media Dashboard Systems

In our continuing series of All-In-One Social Media Management Tools for B2B Marketers, we’re reviewing two more Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) and how they can assist B2B social media marketers. This post will cover HootSuite and Sendible. See our previous posts for a reviews of Argyle Social, Spredfast and  Awareness Networks Social Marketing Hub.

HOOTSUITE

HootSuite

Overview:

HootSuite is the Social Media Dashboard. HootSuite helps marketers manage social media campaigns, identify potential audience, and distribute targeted messages across multiple social channels.

Using HootSuite’s social media dashboard, teams can collaboratively schedule updates to Twitter, Facebook (individual accounts and pages), Linkedin, WordPress and other social networks via web, desktop or mobile platforms. Hootsuite provides campaign tracking results as a summary or by individual message.

Benefits:

HootSuite is one of the more popular dashboard applications, but many users may not be taking full advantage of its features. Over the past few months lots of new functions have been added that make HootSuite an option for nearly any level user.

Some features that users should explore (if you haven’t already) include its ability to publish to multiple platforms, schedule updates, team collaboration tools, task assigning, real-time result tracking and web analytics integration.

Intended User:

HootSuite has 3 price plans – a free Basic version (ad-supported) which provides up to 5 social networks, a Pro plan for $5.99/month that includes unlimited social networks, feeds, stats and Google Analytics integration, and an Enterprise level plan with a multitude of features for $1499/month.

The basic plan is recommended for those looking to get started with a social media management system, and upgrading it to a Pro account will provide a lot of features at a very reasonable price. Power users will want to explore the Enterprise level and compare it to other top-tier SMMS options.

You can learn more about Hootsuite at http://hootsuite.com. Follow @hootsuite on Twitter.

SENDIBLE

Sendible

Overview:

Sendible bills itself as a “one-stop-shop” for all your marketing needs.  It allows you to manage multiple social channels, email, SMS and blog accounts all from one interface. Sendible supports Facebook status and page updates, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Google Buzz, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and a bunch more.  It provides the ability to share posts from your blogs and RSS feeds, schedule messages, respond to feedback, and provides reporting on clicks, views, shares and message reaction.

Benefits:

The support for marketing channels other than social media makes Sendible unique in this space- its more of a campaign management system than just a social media management system. For those that want an all-in-one service this may be an attractive option.

The scheduling in Sendible allows users to set up reminders for sending messages to yourself, has options for recurring messages and has a drag-and-drop calendar that displays your scheduled content.

The monitoring shows comments, responses or feedback on your posts. Monitoring and reporting allows you to track the effectiveness of your campaign and drill into the results to determine how recipients responded to your message.

Intended User:

Sendible seems to be targeting marketers, small businesses and agencies that need a little bit of everything. It has 5 pricing plans that range from free to $40 per month. There’s also a $500 white label plan intended for agencies. Each plan has limits for sending, contacts, and accounts, so review the price structure to see what works best for you. There’s also pay-as-you-go pricing options available.

You can learn more about Sendible at http://sendible.com. Follow @sendible on Twitter.

Please note that SocialMediaB2B.com is publishing SMMS reviews as a benefit to our readers and have no monetary or other arrangements with the platforms we review.

4 Ways B2B Companies Can Translate Tweets

Twitter is a global platform with more than 60% of users outside the United States and one way B2B companies can grow their business is to monitor and engage with customers and prospects in other languages. In some instances that means reading and writing tweets in languages that you do not understand. There are a variety of tools that embed translation into their interface, and here are some of the most popular.

Tweetdeck
Lots of people use this desktop client to manage their Twitter experience, but many don’t know about the built in language support in Tweetdeck. Start by going to Settings > Services and choose your primary language. Tweets in other languages will be translated into this language when you choose to translate them. Note that all translation is powered by Google and these machine translations frequently miss the subtleties of language, especially in social media.

When you see a tweet that is not in your primary language, move your cursor over the profile picture to bring up the menu of other actions you can take on an individual tweet. Choose translate. You can also choose untranslate to switch the tweet back to its original language.

Tweetdeck also helps you translate your tweets into any Google Translate supported language. After writing your tweet, click the translate this update button and choose the language you wish. Click send to post your translated tweet.

Hootsuite iPhone app
If you are looking for quick way to translate incoming tweets to your native language while on the go, the HootSuite iPhone app includes one button translation while reading any tweet. There are actually two buttons. One translates to the primary language that you set for the app, while the other translates to English.

Twaitter
Another tool that has built in translation is Twaitter. This web-based tool is designed around scheduling your Twitter updates, but it also has Google Translate services embedded into it. After typing an update, click translate, choose a language and Twaitter translates. Send or schedule the update.

Tweetmeme
And finally, yesterday, Tweetmeme announced translation support for their popular retweet button (used here on SocialMediaB2B.com). They too have incorporated Google Translate tools, which can automatically detect, and suggest, translation into your native language. It is easy to undo if you don’t like the translation. If you tweet in a language other than English, we would love for you to tweet this post in your language using the Tweetmeme button and let us know how it works.

Are there other translation tools that allow you to connect your B2B company to people who do not speak your language? Let us know below in the comments.