What exactly is customer service? As a sound business principle, customer service can be defined as a process by which a business seeks to engage and provide service to customers before, during and after a purchase. In a social media context, the idea of customer service stretches even further, extending to fans that may or may not become customers.

Businesspeople using Facebook are after quite a few things. They want to increase their reach, their brand recognition, boost their sales, and generally take over a larger niche or a larger part of a niche. Offering customer service on Facebook helps a brand accomplish many of these goals, and following a system to set up the service is very helpful.

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Using Facebook to Provide Vital Customer Service Features

1: Put the Right Tools in Place
Perhaps the most important step in creating a social customer service system on your Facebook brand page is acquiring the right tools for the job. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to purchase or download anything overly complicated or expensive. You simply want some software (or measures) to help you keep in synch with Facebook so you can deal with issues as they arise.

Something that’s very helpful and totally free is an email alert. You can create a series of alerts using Gmail that pertain to certain terms, hashtags, products, etc.; this allows you to step out in front of a potential crisis, which is a large part of customer service. Software programs like HappyFox and Zendesk also allow you to synch up with Facebook in real-time for an even more immediate effect.

2: Take Response Time Very Seriously
Once you create a system that helps you find and follow what customers and fans are saying about your brand, you must be ready to spring into action. Take your response time seriously and step in to quell frustrations, to set the record straight, to offer an apology, or to take some other sort of action.

If one person says something negative or has an issue, the potential is there for everyone (not hyperbole; everyone with Internet access is a potential viewer) to see it and for the issue to spread like wildfire.

3: Be More Proactive than Reactive
Reactive bests proactive in many areas around customer service. In other helpful Facebook-related material, you will read about the importance of engaging, both for your brand’s reach and reputation. During this engagement, it’s important to take fans and customers into consideration. A good example here is a post, product or other feature that you know to be wrong or misleading in some fashion.

Before there’s even a chance that someone can start complaining or smearing, you can issue corrections, apologies, explanations, or whatever else you need, and you can get them out there in the public eye. Being proactive means biting the bullet and admitting you’re wrong. Use that principle whenever you are; PR is a big part of customer service.

4: Segment Your Service
You may also find that it’s helpful if you can create different segments of your customer service. For instance, if someone has a general complaint and isn’t a customer, you, stepping in immediately, can direct them to a support ticket, a landing page with a thorough FAQ, a separate email address, or another area that removes them from public view.

Likewise, if someone has a legitimate issue, like a customer wanting a refund, creating a separate section to deal with such things allows you to funnel the more serious and immediate problems into specialized zones.

5: Ask How You Can Help
Remember that proactive tip? It doesn’t cease to be helpful beyond mistakes you make the desire to stay out in front of the flood. It also helps if, during your engagement with fans and customers, you actually gauge people and find out where they stand on your brand, on your products, etc.

For example, creating a witty little post that asks people for suggestions on how to improve benefits you while keeping people engaged. Making such changes based on the advice also helps to build trust and recognition, as it shows that your brand is truly open to customer influence.

6: Promote Your Customer Service
If you’re willing to implement some of the tips listed above, then the odds are great that you’re going to help someone solve a problem, or that you’re going to institute a change that was suggested by a fan/customer. This is a big win for you, and you can display it as such and grow on that.

For instance, you can put out a post talking about how your customer service really helps people solve problems, and you can show the proof. Creating a Promoted Post out of it or releasing it as another ad format with the help of solid third-party software helps you to reach a much broader range of people. Promoting your customer service allows potential customers to see that your brand is serious about business and not simply some Internet scheme that’s all talk and no action.

Offering customer service as a Facebook brand is a low-cost way of expanding the reach and recognition of your brand, and it’s a terrific way to turn fans into customers and customers into repeat, long-term customers. Failing to offer these features, on the other hand, makes your brand susceptible to smears and complaints snowballing into brand-destroying ice boulders.