Your social media channels are not just another way to reach out to new customers and engage with the ones you have. They’re also very effective at dealing customer complaints and improving customer service.

More than 42 percent of mobile patrons use social media to direct their anger or general dissatisfaction at businesses—or to ask a simple question. According to Lithium.com, about 75 percent of those who do not only expect an answer from the business—they expect it within an hour.

It’s easy to see how not having an effective strategy can hurt your business. The longer someone awaits a reply, the more irritated they will be, and the more people will take notice.

Here are some tips to help you use your social media channel to improve your customer service.

Keep a separate profile for support. This accomplishes two things: it makes you seem like a larger, more professional operation (and that is particularly beneficial for a small business owner) and it also takes complaints away from your main social media pages. Just remember to keep the appearance similar—same logo, same color scheme, etc.—and to make sure you can see responses from page to page.

State your hours. As we mentioned above, nothing is more irritating to an angry customer than slow response—or no response. Make sure they know ahead of time if and when there will be lapses in coverage. Adding a quick note via an automated direct message is acceptable here. They may not get the response in the timely matter they wanted, but at least they’ll know they’ll get one.

Get your radar up. You don’t have to stare at your social media feed all day, waiting for bad reviews, angry customers or simple questions. There are several apps you can use, mostly free, that can keep track of the times your business is mentioned on any number of platforms. Our favorite is Social Mention, which is a sort of social media search engine and analytics tool you can use to track your brand across several social media channels. You can type your name in and use it like a traditional search engine, or you can set alerts to receive email notifications when you get mentioned, taking the guesswork out of it.

Use the right tone. Keep emoticons and additional punctuation (like exclamation points!!) to a minimum. Use complete sentences and sound apologetic—even if you don’t directly apologize.

There are plenty of examples of companies that use social media to improve their customer service. Xbox holds a Guinness World record for such a thing. Note how quickly they respond, how apologetic they are when they aren’t able to respond right away, how friendly the language is and how much effort they take to keep everyone informed of what they’re doing.

How do you use your social media channels to improve customer service? Let us know in the comments!

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