Most companies need social media guidelines for employee interactions with customers, especially when it comes to customer service. These guidelines help shape the overall customer experience and ensure every response is in line with the brand’s tone, personality, and messaging. They also help your reps personally respond to as many customer comments and posts as possible, which drives engagement and can improve customer experience.

With that in mind, how can you still provide personalized customer service via social media while adhering to these policies?

Use these tips to personalize your interactions on social media while sticking to your company’s guidelines. Your customers will appreciate your efforts, and your customer service team will be grateful for the opportunity to form more genuine relationships with current and potential customers on your social media sites.

Respond as quickly as you can

With social media listening tools, companies can stay aware of who is talking about them and what they’re saying. For the uninitiated, this means using Google Alerts, your social media platform, and other methods to monitor instances when people use important terms related to your company.

These terms include names: the company, its subsidiaries, executives, products, and services. They may also include multiple-word phrases such as catch-phrases, taglines, slogans, and long-tail keywords specific to your company and industry. What’s important about social media listening is that not all mentions of your company will include its name, especially when a picture is included. For example, Nike would benefit from monitoring mentions of “swoosh,” the common name for its trademark.

Once you see where you’ve been mentioned—by name, directly, or indirectly—it’s time to respond. The sooner you reply the better, especially when it comes to urgent customer needs. If it’s a general comment, a quick like or favourite (depending on the platform) is a completely acceptable response. When a more involved response is necessary, it’s time to prove you’re not only listening, but you’re listening to that person specifically.

Use names—theirs and yours

When responding to people on social media, make it a conversation and use their name and yours. Donna Moritz writes, “By using their first name as well as their Twitter handle, you can achieve two things: First, it shows the person that you are not sending an automated tweet. And second, it shows them that you want to engage, and the conversation will continue.”

On Twitter and Instagram, look at the person’s profile to see if they list their name. On Facebook it should be far more obvious. Whichever social site you use, do quick due diligence to learn their real name.

In addition to using the person’s name, introduce yourself or sign off with your own name. Some companies discourage this practice in order to present a more singular customer service experience, but customers often appreciate knowing there’s a real person behind the message.

Listen, then help

When someone reaches out to your customer service team over social media, they’re hoping for a fast, timely solution to their question. Catching and responding to messages quickly is important, but it’s even more imperative that you fully understand the person’s situation so you can resolve it.

First-call resolution is a key customer service metric. Translated to social media, first-contact resolution means working with a customer to completely fix an issue, answer a question, or satisfy a concern in just one conversation. Use your CRM to look into the person’s history with your company, consult your knowledge base to get the most up-to-date information that can help them, and help them faster.

Even when using standardized responses, customer service agents can ask the right questions, share helpful information, and work to make sure that customer feels like the interaction was personalized just for them. When they feel like they’re important, and being treated like an individual, customer service scores skyrocket.

It’s up to you

Technology makes it easy to communicate with your customers on social media, and your customer service team has the power to provide personalized help to your customers. Empower them with the tools they need to keep customers happy and see their morale improve alongside your customer experience.

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