How to Leverage Social Media To Build a Better Customer Service Model

7 Minutes Read

In today’s hyper-connected, always online world, customers are just as likely to have a conversation with your office using a keyboard and computer screen as they are by walking through your front door or calling you on the phone. 58% of the world’s population are active social media users, and those users expect the brands and service providers they use to be active users as well. Being an active social media user takes more than a profile picture and a few posts a month. 63% of consumers expect businesses to provide genuine customer service support through their social media channels, and the time that they are willing to wait for a response just keeps getting shorter.

In 2022, 53% of consumers expected companies to respond to a negative review online within a week. This year’s report had a whopping 90% of consumers say that an immediate response to customer concerns was important with 60% of respondents defining immediate as within 10 minutes or less. Clearly, customers are running short on patience, and smart businesses and service providers would be wise to take notice.

There are a number of clever ways that a smart service provider can streamline their customer support processes to make sure that customers always have the exact information they need at the precise moment that they need it. In some cases, it may require some effort from you at the outset, but the benefits, in the long run, will more than makeup for it. In this post, we will take a look at some of the top ways that you can use social media to provide high-quality and accurate customer service, reduce the load on your customer support team, and eliminate unnecessary friction for your customers with detailed, insightful responses that tell your customers everything they need to know without them having to ask a single question. 

It Takes a Village: Community Customer Service

Take a minute to imagine the traditional customer service model. When a customer has a question or runs into an issue they can’t resolve on their own they generally have a few options:

  • Phone: Speak with a Customer Service Representative on the telephone
  • Chat: Chat with a customer support chatbot
  • Email: Send a message via a “contact us” form or email and wait for a response

Now think of the last time you needed to contact a service provider or business about an issue.  Were you optimistic about the odds of getting the answers you need and having an awesome experience with any of these choices? Probably not. 

This is not a critique of the customer support representatives on the other end of the phone line or email. They are typically a very talented bunch of people doing the best that they can to provide quick and accurate answers to a huge array of questions and requests that run the gamut from how do I add new services to my account to how do I reconfigure my network to watch a live stream of the boxing match that started 2 minutes ago.

 The introduction of chatbots only made the problem worse. The last remaining humans on the customer support team are treated as the last-resort solution that is made available to clients only after the automated options have all been exhausted. This means that the customer support team is inevitably dealing with customers who have spent the last several hours or days being bounced from automated solution to automated solution without success and have now arrived at the human customer support team with no patience left and a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to the company. 

Is this really the best way to manage customer service? It certainly seems like the time is right to start looking for a better customer service model and social media has opened up some interesting new opportunities to communicate with clients. 

Take the web forum model for starters. Web forums are not new but the majority of the existing forums have focused primarily on niche industries and tech support. You can find forums full of expert advice on many popular tech products, home repairs, and automobiles, but the selection gets a little sparse if you venture beyond these general topic areas.  

Social media provides all the tools you need to create a social media forum on just about any topic you choose, so why not dedicate a social media channel to curating a forum-style customer support option? The forum allows for the consumer-to-consumer discussion that is natural to social media but, rather than being overseen by paid moderators, you would instead employ trained customer support staff to monitor the channel and interject an official response when the conversation calls for one. 

Dell, eBay, PayPal, and WordPress all make use of forum-based customer support models that encourage interaction between customers and have specialists on hand to provide official support when needed. These large companies host their forums through their own websites or a third-party provider, but a small health & wellness practice may be able to replicate much of the same value on a social media platform.

A forum can be a great way to take care of all the common medical queries that your front office team must respond to throughout the day. These are the 20 or 30 questions that get asked in some form or another over and over again. Sit down with your team and brainstorm the questions they get asked the most. Write out thoughtful responses and plug them into your forum. The community can then ask for clarification, or voice their concerns or thoughts and the discussion can move forward from there. The longer the thread runs the more information the conversation gains so you can point your new clients to the forum knowing they will have a wealth of knowledge to explore. 

This is just one method of providing proactive customer support. If a community-style customer support option sounds too risky for your business or practice consider a customized FAQs page instead. This option will provide the same question-and-answer structure of a forum, but the answers will all be pre-written and posted by you and your team.

An Ounce of Prevention: FAQs-Based Customer Service

The problem with proactive customer support options has always been the accuracy (or lack of accuracy) when it comes to guessing what the clients are going to want to know.  Thanks to social media we have the tools to find out what our clients find the most frustrating about our services, or our office policies, which health-related issues are keeping them up at night, which features they don’t understand and which policies rub them the wrong way.  

We can use this knowledge to create client education materials that provide the answers to the most common questions without making them wait on hold or interact with chatbots to ask it. 

Wait a minute… isn't that what all those brochures in our lobby are for? 

Kind of….

The printed health education brochures in the lobby provide specific, detailed facts on a particular health condition. These are an important tool, but the material is so dense and clinical that the only one who is going to read them is someone who has just been told by us that they may have said condition. In other words, these make great sources of information after the visit but don’t do much in the way of lightening the load on the office team or answering common queries. The FAQs page addresses the common questions a client is likely to have about a procedure or potential health condition before they come in for their appointment.   

These questions might involve what type of health insurance documents they need to provide, whether they should or shouldn’t eat or drink before a particular procedure or visit, what type of tests we might run to detect a certain health condition and our advice for avoiding preventable health problems. These are all common questions that could easily be answered on a FAQs page

Organizing FAQs to Maximize Utility

Thoughtful design and organization are central to creating a FAQs page that provides real value to clients. You want to make it as easy as possible for your clients to find the answers they need in as few clicks as possible.  

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Divide your FAQs page into categories and create headers that clearly define each topic area so customers can quickly locate the section they need.
  • Make your FAQs pages searchable by embedding a search bar that allows users to search by topic or keyword to help them locate the most relevant content quickly.
  • Create a separate webpage for each product line so you can create a tailored FAQs page targeted to each unique product.

With a little bit of thought and planning you should be able to make a workable FAQs page to suit any size and type of business. Pair your FAQs page with a robust help center blog packed with posts on the most popular topics to maximize your customer care outreach efforts. 

Read All About It: The Help Center Model

An online blog or newsletter with timely posts on the top healthcare concerns or wellness trends of the moment is another great way to provide valuable information to your clients.  Plan on creating several longer blog posts exploring trending health topics mixed in with evergreen content providing a deeper understanding of the different services and procedures you provide at your practice.  

While the FAQs model and the Help Center don’t have the same social aspect as the forum does, social media still has a big role to play. Learning how to decipher the engagement metrics for each platform opens up a wealth of knowledge, providing just about everything you ever wanted to know (and a lot that you didn't) about the conversations that are being had all over social media at any given moment. You can find out which topics, and ideas are getting the most attention, and how people are feeling about what they are reading. When you spot a topic that seems to be spiking in engagement, you can go check it out and find out why. 

Is someone sharing timely and sensible advice your clients could benefit from? Perfect! Now, you can expand on that awesome content with personalized information about services available through your practice. 

Are the alerts coming from users in your area expressing concern about a reported cluster of RV cases? That is concerning, especially for your clients with elderly parents or newborns in the household. You will want to add a question or two to the top of your FAQ page so you can provide the answers your clients are going to be looking for to help them keep themselves and their families safe. 

Keeping a Finger on the Pulse

Once you know what to watch for, you will find that it is fairly easy to stay one step ahead of the latest wellness craze, or public health concern so you are always prepared to offer accurate, honest information and counter the harmful misinformation before it has a chance to spread.  

Social Media can supply you with all the information you need to keep your content calendar filled with topics of interest to include in your FAQs page and Help Center Blog. Set up a content monitoring and alert system to filter out all the irrelevant background conversations and alert you when a targeted subject is mentioned frequently in a relatively short period, or when there is a spike in healthcare-related discussions emanating from users in your vicinity. Both of these metrics serve as reliable indicators of an emerging concern or trend that you may want to address in your content. 

Want an even easier solution? Turn your content strategy over to the experts. Our team knows the ins and outs of social media better than most. We know which metrics warrant your attention and which are just noisy. We would love the chance to show you how we can help you build a library full of high-quality, on-trend content that supports your efforts to create better health outcomes for your clients. Schedule a consultation with a member of our team today and let’s start strategizing. 

Picture of Tracey Owen

Tracey Owen

Tracey enjoys coffee and hiking while also (not really enjoying) trying desperately to keep her remaining house plants alive.