It’s essential to provide impeccable social media customer service in 2020. We all know that, right? If you didn’t, just keep quiet and read on — we’ve got your back.
According to the Institute of Customer Service, 1 in 3 people will turn to social media when they have customer service issues. They won’t pick up the phone, search your knowledge base, or engage with your clunky website chatbot. Instead, they’ll fire you a question via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — or possibly one of the others, if they’re feeling fruity.
You need to be prepared to keep your customers happy on social media, and there’s no reason why you should bore the pants off ‘em in the process. We’re always banging on about the benefits of giving your brand a sense of humour when it comes to your social media marketing – so you won’t be surprised to hear us extolling the virtues of applying the same to your brand’s tone of voice when with customer service too.
Comedy lowers our defences, so we’re more receptive to its hidden messages. Comedy builds a positive association with your brand, because suddenly you’re fun to be around.
But perhaps most importantly, in an age where ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ dictate who sees what, funny content travels far and wide, for free. Brands that master the funny customer service response go viral, and thinking of your social media customer service strategy as anything less than a content campaign in its own right is a missed opportunity.
Just in case the prospect of massive exposure for your brand isn’t enticing enough, we’ve got four more reasons why the customer service section of your social media management strategy should include the words ‘be funny’ (ideally as an ALL CAPS title, in bold, and underlined):
1. To show there’s a human behind the account
You’ve seen them — the bland auto-responders that other businesses use to ‘engage’ with customers on social media. Sure, you could set up a bot to spew out the relevant email addresses in response to mentions of your brand. But you’d be missing out on a golden opportunity to cultivate a special relationship with your customers.
Just as we all prefer speaking to a person on the phone rather than a rubbish voice recognition system, customers on social media want to feel like they’re dealing with a real, human team member.
One surefire way to do this is to give that team member (or entire customer service team – if you’re that fancy) the freedom to respond in a funny way, when appropriate. They’ll need careful training, as making sure the jokes aren’t at the expense of getting the customer’s problem resolved is a tricky balance to strike – but once you’ve got that cracked, you’ll be leaving them, and the rest of your social audience, in no doubt that your social media accounts are staffed by humans.
After all, robots can’t write jokes, can they?
But seriously, can they?
I’m asking for a friend…
2. To show you respond to everyone, quickly
Your consumers expect a response, and they expect it now. Response time is critical — in the ‘always on’ world of social media, many users expect you to respond to customer service messages within minutes.
It’s important to show all the potential customers watching from the sidelines that you take the time to respond to everyone who asks a direct question. Everyone. That way, they’ll feel reassured that they could approach you with a genuine query and receive a prompt response.
Problem is — some questions just don’t deserve a serious answer. It may be someone making a joke, or asking a question that’s clearly rhetorical, or just spamming your page with nonsense. Other social media management strategies would have you filter out and ignore these comments, to focus on the real issues. But why not take the opportunity instead to respond with playful humour? That way, you’re demonstrating your brand’s playful tone of voice, while reminding everyone that you’re always ready to help when they actually need it.
Plus – as we may have mentioned – funny customer service has a habit of going viral. So even those who didn’t ask a question will be well aware of how quickly your team answers questions.
It’s the perfect support strategy.
3. To turn troublemakers into entertainment
When someone is taking a public pop at your brand via your social media accounts, consider shooting back — just make sure it’s funny. Yes, they’re probably trolling you for no reason other than boredom or the desire for a few ‘likes’ of their own, but deleting their comments waves a red flag to other users. Equally, you shouldn’t leave their negativity sitting (yes, sitting) all over your brand mentions unattended.
Instead, brands who know where it’s at engage in light-hearted back-and-forth with their harshest critics out on the social channels, for the rest of us to watch and enjoy. If you’re feeling brave, you can even actively seek out negative mentions of your brand to set the record straight. Done correctly, this nearly always paints the brand as the hero, and you may even find your loyal followers gang up against the trolls for you, further solidifying your relationship. At the very least, your willingness to engage at all shows you don’t take yourself too seriously.
The style of humour you go for in your ‘comebacks’ will be informed by your brand tone of voice, and you’ll want to keep it the right side of offensive (i.e. not at all) — self-deprecating humour or false modesty are popular low-risk options. James Blunt does this beautifully — take a look at how he pretends to mock himself in order to actually mock his trolls. If you’re really stuck for ideas, try ‘agreeing’ with their criticism and loading your response with sarcasm or irony. Works a treat.
4. Because humour can defuse conflict
There’s real science behind the claim that making a joke can get you out of trouble (honest, Officer). If people engaged in a conflict situation are unexpectedly presented with something they find funny, they’re likely to switch from what’s known as a convergent mindset, into a divergent one.
That’s the difference between being adamant that there’s only one solution to a problem, and being open to considering other possibilities.
In other words, a well-timed gag can flick a mental switch in an angry consumer, and make them more receptive to solutions proposed by your customer service team. Again, self-deprecating humour is your safest bet here. Get too sassy and you risk inflaming the situation and, as ever with incorporating comedy in your social media marketing mix, judgment is key. We’re not suggesting you mock customers who have genuine support requests, or try to distract a victim of gross corporate negligence with a knock knock joke.
However, a gentle injection of humour before an exchange gets too heated may just help you achieve the primary objective of social media customer service crisis management — moving the conversation out of the public sphere and into the realm of private messages, where it belongs.
It boils down to this…
Every single tweet is a potential viral sensation. Even your customer service responses. If you’re seen to be answering queries to your customers’ satisfaction on social media and dealing with any negativity in a positive way, that’s worth a ‘like’…maybe.
But if you can actually bring a laugh or smile to the faces of your customers on social media, we promise you they’ll spread your brand message across the internet faster than you can say, “Shall we just install a chatbot?”