We’ve probably all seen an instance where a brand blew an online customer service experience by either ignoring a customer’s message, or responding in an unhelpful manner.  While it’s true that it’s pretty boring for everyone else to watch customer service being addressed real-time on Twitter, the fact of the matter is that your customers don’t care whether or not you think your Twitter channel is for marketing.  They will use this channel for customer service whether or not you want them to.

Put simply,

Your customers are part of your social media community (whether you want them to be or not).

Click to tweet!

Social media community management is something that you need to do if you maintain a social media presence, whether or not you’re planning on an active social media community marketing program.  Your customers are plugged in and online, and they are going to use the channels available to them to get your attention.  With that in mind, here are a few key points that you want to consider when using your media channels for social community management.

5 Steps to Turning Customer Service into Social Media Community Management

1) Don’t pass the buck.

Whether or not you’re in the department that will actually fix the issue being reported is irrelevant.  If you’re a human person and can address the issue being presented to you by a customer on the channel you manage, it’s your job to make an effort to address the issue.

2) Have a process in place to manage customer service requests.

People will use your social channels for customer service issues.  You as a brand need to have a method to receive those messages, respond to them promptly, and route them accordingly.  Some customer service  software (Zendesk being one) now have functionalities that allow you to create a ticket from a tweet, but it’s really not that hard to do it the old fashioned way.  Hopefully, there is a human running your social media account, and that human should understand both how to respond to a customer and how to make sure that the issue gets relayed to the appropriate person.

3) Use a good social media community management tool to identify influencers before you leave them annoyed and hungry.

Any good social media marketing tool will have community management features that give you the basic profiles and stats on a person who has engaged with your brand.

4) 1:1 customer engagement is an opportunity.  Use it wisely.

When a person is taking the time to engage with you, this is an awesome opportunity to make a great impression.  Awesome impressions are what spur good social media community cultivation.  Making your customer feel heard is important; solving the issue is a chance to turn that person around and into an ardent fan.  Excellent customer service is one of the easiest, best ways to get people tweeting about you in a positive way, and illustrates a brand promise that you actually care about your customers.

5) You’re human.  Act like it.

If someone asked you for directions on the street, would you tell them to pull out their iPhone and use Google Maps?  (If the answer is “yes,” you should definitely consider a career that doesn’t interface directly with customers.)  I’m going to give us humans the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that people are generally nice and overall want to help each other out with the easy stuff.  If you’re having trouble distinguishing where you should go above and beyond to help someone, just pretend that the person is your Mom.  Would you tell your Mom to fill out a customer service form if she asked you a question on Twitter?  I hope not.  (And if your answer is “yes,” that’s the wrong answer.  Trust me.  Ask your mother.)

Good social community management happens when we act like people.  Get on out there and be friendly.