Did you know that most of the social conversations about gifting happen the week of Christmas, not the week of Thanksgiving? Contrary to what you may think, a recent Social Media Insights White Paper reports that gifting mentions peaked on December 22nd at 47%, while a mere 6% on Black Friday. This is an important distinction for consumer goods companies monitoring social media during the holidays, and companies managing holiday customer service. When we buy things for others, a heightened sense of importance can arise. This can cause customer service issues to rise on social media during the holidays. Here are our best tips for managing your customer service social media strategy over the upcoming holidays.

Always be listening

Monitoring your social media mentions is vital, especially over the holiday season. In a 2013 JD Power survey of more than 23,000 online consumers, 67% of respondents reported they have contacted a company for customer service support. Watch for variations of your company name too, as often people switch around letters or use abbreviations. If you are only going to have support during specified hours or you are closed on holidays, be sure to let people know via your company description and posts. You can easily sign on and off with a simple message to let your followers know you are ready for their questions.

Response time matters

When people contact each other via social media, a quick response is usually ensured. This instant response time is now being extended to businesses. Customers have come to expect a response time of anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Response time is so important that your specific customer service response time is posted for all to see on various social media websites. A slow response time of even 2 hours or more can put people off.

Response tone

The tone you use for customer service in social media should always depend on how the customer sounds. For people with serious concerns, being apologetic and sincere is extremely important. For people who joke about your business, you can have some fun with them, but be careful with how your message might sound. Especially on Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters, a short amount of space may not give you enough room to keep from coming across as smug instead of sarcastic or devious instead of good intention.

Separate support account for Holiday Customer Service

If you take a look at large U.S. companies, they generally have a separate support account on social media networks, especially on Twitter. Verizon, for instance, has a separate support account to tackle any issues that come up. Why is separate better? This all goes back to tone. Your support account should help with any customer service social media issues while your main account is primarily for marketing. Keeping them separate will help to make a clear message to followers.

Offline conversations

When is it time to take a conversation offline? Depending on your business, you may have to take conversations offline a lot, especially if people need to clarify with any personal information. It’s okay to ask a person to email or private message you. Social media may be a great way to start a conversation, but it is the last place you want to solve serious customer service issues.

By following these five tips, you can develop your holiday customer service social media strategy. Again, be aware that though people start shopping around Black Friday, they may be purchasing gifts only afterwards. This key gift giving season isn’t just the time to get sales back in the black, but also time for you to show off your customer service social media skills.

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