When customers can’t reach your company—or get an immediate response—through traditional channels such as your main phone number, help desk, or email address, they typically turn to your social media channels. In fact, recent research has found that 67 percent of consumers have used social media to resolve customer service issues in the past, and that figure is likely to increase.

From the consumer’s perspective, it makes sense. Rather than spending time waiting on hold, they’ve discovered that companies, fearful of appearing unresponsive, are quick to answer consumer requests through social media.

How Social Media Customer Support Works

One industry that handles social media customer service particularly well is the airline industry. Since most air travellers use their mobile devices in airports, it’s easier than ever for them to get in touch with the airlines after, say, their flight has been cancelled. In these cases, it pays off for customers to post a message through the airline’s Facebook or Twitter page; often times information for the next available flight is posted immediately.

Create Separate Social Media Profiles for Service

Even for a small business, it may be a good idea to create separate social media profiles that are solely for service. That way, you can easily track the number of people who are responding to social media marketing and those who are seeking help. You can also analyze this data to find out how quickly you’re resolving customers’ problems and find ways to continually improve your response time.

In order to execute this, you’ll need to have a system in place that automatically monitors your social media properties for any questions or concerns from customers, so that trained service representatives will be able to address concerns quickly and efficiently. Although it may take some work to get started, keep in mind that in the long run, social media service is likely to save both time and money.

Even with full-time staffers, it’s impossible to respond to customers around the clock. So make sure you let customers know when they can expect to hear from your company via social media. For example, remind customers by posting “We’re here M-F, 9am-7pm EST” that you’ll get back to them during business hours.

Make It Personal

When customers communicate with your brand online, they’re looking for a personal connection. So make sure that each of your service representatives is using his or her first name when they talk with customers. Friendliness and a bit of a personal touch go a long way toward building rapport with online customers.

Make the Commitment

If you decide to take social media service to the next level, make sure you do it well. If you’re not fully committed to meeting customer needs through social media, your efforts could backfire. When you don’t respond to social media users promptly, customers become frustrated and you might as well not have a social media presence at all. Remember, a help desk solution that monitors your social media properties automatically for your will help!