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Sometimes it feels like people will give almost anything a “like” on Facebook: viral cat videos, their friends’ vacation pictures, even a status update on what someone else had for lunch. Getting a “like” from a customer regarding the service they experienced, however, can be another matter entirely.

As it slowly became one of the biggest online platforms in the world, many Canadian companies were quick to recognize Facebook as a critical social media channel for their marketing efforts. This may have included establishing a strong Facebook page with key details about their brand, their products and services, as well as ads that could be targeted to the right Facebook users. As with all forms of social media, however, Facebook is not a one-way messaging tool for marketing departments. Instead, it’s one of the places that customers are likely to have a live conversation about their experience with a company -- good or bad, and one which may or may not involve the company in question.

This is why companies need to spend more time thinking about the role Facebook plays in the customer experience they’re trying to develop, and what they may have to do from a service perspective to ensure they are meeting expectations.

For some organizations, looking at Facebook as a service channel might seem threatening at first. In some cases, for example, their engagement with customers on the social media service will be much more visible than a conversation that might have traditionally happened through a contact centre. Just like bad word of mouth can spread quickly, it’s easy for irate customers to follow up on a service interaction with a detailed post to their friends on what happened, or even use of “negative” emojis like an angry or tearful face instead of the thumbs-up “like” image.

If service teams are worried about increasing their workload by monitoring and responding to service requests through social media services like Facebook, however, they needn’t be. Integration with Facebook is already available through Service Cloud, which means they can access the data they need no matter what channel they’re using to communicate with a customer. That said, there are a few nuances to offering a strong customer service experience on Facebook you should keep in mind. These include:

 

Offer Guidance, But Support Freedom Of Choice

 

A strong Facebook page goes beyond positioning the strengths of your products and services. It should also be as clear as your corporate web site in providing critical information about contact points and support processes. This means the most commonly-called phone numbers, email addresses or other ways to get in touch when they’re experiencing a problem. In some cases, a company’s Facebook page could also offer links to documentation, customer portals or other resources to give them self-serve options to address an issue.

It’s important to realize, however, that Facebook users will expect companies to engage with them in much the same way they interact with their friends on the site. In other words, if they post a question in a status update or make a comment on your company’s page or its posts, they will want a relevant response in the same channel in a timely fashion. Depending on the service request, the team might offer to jump on the phone or request a private message with more details, but ultimately a great service experience gives customers the freedom to work in whatever channel they choose.

Act Like A Friend, Not A Stranger

 

The whole point of social media is to connect with people we already know in some other context. Those we choose to add as a Facebook friend, for example, might include those we knew in school, at previous jobs, members of a recreational sports team and so on. When we comment on our friends’ posts or send messages to them through Facebook, we’re probably using details that demonstrate what we know about their likes, dislikes or things they’ve gone through.

Customer service has traditionally been far less personal or intimate. People have fumed while waiting on hold, for instance, only to be greeted by agents who take them through a series of background questions before they can begin solving their problem. Tools like Service Cloud address that by arming teams with the data on customers they need. This becomes even more critical on a platform like Facebook, where interactions might be more casual and customers are typing, rather than talking. They’ll expect you to know who they are, their account history and other key details without being asked.

 

Recognize The Full Relationship -- And Your Responsibilities

 

We tend to think about “customer experience” in terms of traditional service issues alone -- when a product breaks down, for instance, or if customers can’t find answers to a critical question. Being present on a platform like Facebook, however, means being ready to respond to much more than that.

Facebook users might to choose to comment directly on an ad or promoted piece of content your firm has posted to the service, for instance. Some of these people might be customers, but others could be largely unknown. No matter who’s talking, though, a great customer experience is about being ready to listen to feedback, responding politely and always being honest and transparent while doing so.

Customers may also document their experience on Facebook, including everything from the moment they begin considering a purchase (and asking their friends for feedback and advice) to what they paid and whether or not they were satisfied. That means companies might have to think beyond the typical service interaction where they resolve a particular request and instead follow up later with a message to check-in with a customer, adding a “like” to any positive public comments they make and so on.

None of this is to suggest that what happens on Facebook represents the entire customer experience you’re offering as a company. Yet in many cases, it may be one of the places where the finer points of the experience manifest themselves in a highly visible way. It’s a Facebook world -- you better be ready to excel in it.