5 Great Alternatives to 24/7 Social Customer Service

By: Clarabridge Team

August 28, 2015

by Sofie De Beule, Community Manager at Engagor 

Customers are making key buying decisions based on the interactions they have with brands on social media. Twitter and Facebook are always on putting customers just one click away from being able to reach out with complaints, questions, etc. However, for quite a number of brands, it’s not possible to ‘always be on’ with 24/7 customer support. The lack of resources often prevents them from hiring extra people to take care of the night and weekend shifts.

How can you manage conversations with your customers if 24/7, round-the-clock support isn’t feasible? How can you still manage to exceed the expectations of your customers?

Take a look at these 5 great alternatives to make sure you can still deliver smooth customer interactions over the weekend, during and outside peak hours, and those make or break crisis moments.

1. Being Active When Your Audience Is

It’s as simple as that: just be active when your audience is.

The hours your audience is talking to your brand greatly determines when you yourself need to be actively replying to your customers’ questions. Those hours, when you need to be available, typically depend on the industry you’re in. To get to the bottom of this, you need to monitor when your community is active. Are they usually talking to you during the morning/evening/at night? If this is still a mystery to you, you will quickly understand when you need to provide customer service.

Important Tip: If your brand operates internationally and works with multiple social media teams across the globe, go beyond simply monitoring. Filter on country or language to be able to sift through the data so that each social media team only sees what’s relevant to them.

Still not sure whether you need to provide customer support during the weekend? If that’s when your community is most active, then the answer is, “Yes of course!” If you notice inflow is rather low on Saturday, and especially on Sunday, you can put someone on standby or exclude the weekend from your business hours.

2. Providing Back-Up During Peaks & Crisis Situations

At some points throughout the day, and even throughout the year, there are more conversations than usual. In those cases, outsourcing a part of the work to lighten the load is the perfect alternative to cover periods of time when there’s a significantly higher volume of messages. In the case of telecom companies, for example, they often call upon extra pairs of hands in sudden crisis situations (e.g. failing network connections, total outages, and so forth).

Important Tip: Create special, dynamic forums where you can post regular status updates in times of crisis. As a type of self-service customer care, direct your community to it with helpful links.

3. Being Flexible in Time & Space

In any customer service environment, flexibility is key. It’s a crucial characteristic for employers and employees alike. It really works both ways: the more flexibility you grant employees, the more they will be motivated to do a great job and be flexible in return. That’s why you need to be flexible both in time and space.

Develop trust and reliability with your social media team. If small changes need to be made in people’s schedules, employees need to be flexible enough to step in and switch shifts from time to time. Working with shifts is a great way to provide regular breaks so people have enough time to decompress.

In a lot of cases, the option to work from home is a great alternative to make sure shifts are easily covered. Introducing a BYOD policy (i.e. employees have their own laptop at their disposal) allows employees to work remotely. This is very useful if you want people to work standby during the weekend. Introduce mobile devices and mobile apps, to work on/with either at home or at the office, to provide customer care on the go.

4. Business Hours Don’t Equal Working Hours

Stress is commonplace in a social customer service environment. High volumes of messages need to be dealt with in a timely manner if brands want to meet their targets. When starting a new day, messages have piled up during the night, and there’s usually a higher workload. Brands should create work schemes in terms of workload and not in terms of business hours.

Start half an hour earlier than usual to easily catch up on the messages that filtered into the social inbox during the previous night. After this change, you will easily notice an immediate, positive impact on stress level and response times.

5. Clearly Communicate the Service You Offer

Customers should know what to expect from the service you deliver. What better way to do this than to give your Twitter bio a crucial makeover? The way you describe yourself online says a lot about how you provide customer service, and ultimately, how you do business.

Here are 5 essential elements to include in your Twitter bio to make sure customers know what to expect:

  • include customer care, customer support, or comparable term in your Twitter name
  • state that you deliver customer service in your Twitter bio (e.g. “Customer care team, at your service!”)
  • include business hours: customers need to know when they can access you through social media (e.g. 8am – 8pm, Monday through Friday)
  • communicate about other support channels, and have an alternative available (e.g. website, chat, phone, email, etc.)
  • give your company a human face, and let people know who is part of your social customer care team

Want to learn more about these alternatives in-depth? Don’t hesitate to check out our dedicated eBook to make sure you’re maximizing your social customer service efforts.

This post originally appeared on the Engagor blog on March 30, 2015; head to Engagor to continue reading.