Over the last decade, social media has turned traditional marketing on its head. But social channels aren’t just a great place to advertise your brand. Any business with a public profile knows that social media is an interactive space.
Trying to promote your business on Instagram without engaging with your audience is like buying yourself a one-way ticket to social oblivion.
Not only do the majority of consumers want to interact with brands on social media, but 67% expect to be able to use a business’s profile to access customer care.
So, if your business is one of the 25 million with an Instagram account, you need a social customer service strategy in place.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the good and the bad of providing customer service on Instagram so you can do right by your business.
Why should you create an Instagram social customer care strategy?
Let’s face it, you probably set up an Instagram business profile thinking “I’ll gain a bunch of followers, expose them to my products and watch the money roll in”. Ok, maybe you weren’t quite that idealistic, but the truth is, most businesses don’t plan ahead for the type of interactions they’ll get on social media.
And when 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion strong user base follows at least one business on the platform, you’ll be missing a trick or two if you don’t get it right.
Why should you bother? Well, here’s what the data says…
People trust what others say online
According to research by BrightLocal, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. And 57% trust brands more if they have good ratings and reviews.
So, businesses that don’t have a strategy for dealing with negative mentions, or highlighting positive ones, are doomed to lose control of the conversation about their brand.
Consumers spend more on brands that show they care
According to research by Bain & Company, customers spend on average 20-40% more on a business’s products and services when they get a positive response when they interact with them on social media.
By setting up a customer service process on Instagram you’ll ensure you respond effectively when consumers reach out.
You only get one chance to make it work
A terrifying 89% of consumers head to the arms of a competitor after suffering bad customer service. And it only takes one negative experience on social media to put a consumer off a brand.
Which brings me to…
Bad news travels fast on social media
Correction! All news travels fast on social media, but people love a faux pas, especially when it involves a business. In fact, almost half of consumers have shared a bad customer service experience via a social platform.
That’s a lot more than is the case for other customer service channels…
So what does this all add up to? You do not want to mess up your customer service on Instagram.
But what do you need to do to get it right?
Best practices for your Instagram customer service strategy
It’s hard to really mess something up when you have a good strategy in place. And what are all good strategies built on?
Knowledge, my friends. You need to know what your consumers expect and what other businesses do that works.
Luckily, I’ve got you covered. Here are five best practices to follow when implementing your Instagram customer service strategy.
1. Strike the right tone
We’re used to having casual, friendly and fun conversations on social media. Consumers who connect with a brand via Instagram are usually looking for that personal and light-hearted touch.
Depending on your brand’s personality, this might mean emojis and memes or just straight-forward politeness. But, let’s face it, Instagram is all about the emojis…
2. Be quick
People expect a quick response on social media. In fact, 42% of consumers expect a business to get back to them within 60 minutes. That might not seem fast when you consider how long people are willing to wait over the phone, but this 60-minute rule is 24/7.
Consumers expect the same response time on a platform like Instagram at 3 pm and 3 am. And, they tend to reach out out of hours.
3. Be brief
You have limited space to respond to customers on Instagram. Whether as a comment or direct message, people don’t want to be confronted with a huge wall of text. Your responses should be as short as they can be while properly addressing the issue at hand. Like this example from toms shoes…
Short and sweet keeps things neat!
4. Know when to head off-platform
If you have an omnichannel strategy in place or use multiple channels for customer support, you’ll need to take some Instagram queries off-platform. You might want to transfer a customer to your phone, email or another support channel if their issue is:
- Complex: e.g. your agents are returning more than five times to the same chat to resolve the issue. Or more than twice to a comment.
- Sensitive: e.g. your agents require regular input from higher-level staff, or the customer is particularly distressed about the issue.
- Long: e.g. the response required to address the query is too long to be typed in a chat window.
In most cases, you’ll also want to move to a more secure channel if sensitive information like email addresses, phone numbers or payment details need to change hands.
Though, you should note that this doesn’t mean you can delete the original public comment or post that sparked the interaction. Respond with an acknowledgment and a solution-based invitation to move the conversion elsewhere.
5. Make it personal
Consumers tend to use social media when they want a quick response from a brand. But, they also prefer it to other channels because they get a more personal response.
A great way to make the experience more personal is by posting or announcing the arrival and availability of each customer support agent. You could post their picture on your page along with their name, shift times and a fun fact about them to make everything feel a bit more personal.
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Top tools for Instagram customer care
If you’re thinking “well, that seems like a massively tall order”, I hear you. Thankfully, there are some great tools out there to help lighten the load of keeping up with all your audience interactions on Instagram.
Here are three that we think will help you build a winning Instagram customer service strategy.
Mention.com social listening tool
It’s hard enough to keep up with all the comments that are directed at you or on your page. But, how are you meant to respond to unhappy consumers who post about your brand, but don’t tag you?
Mention is a social listening tool that keeps track of the direct and indirect mentions of your brand on platforms like Instagram. The platform’s impressive list of functions includes sentiment analysis, meaning you can pick out and prioritise the most negative and positive posts and engage with them to calm the tension or highlight success.
They even have a Hashtag Tracking feature that could come in handy should your hashtag campaign be hijacked by unhappy customers out for revenge (let’s hope that never happens).
NapoleonCat’s Social Inbox
The Social Inbox is a social media customer service tool that uses the power of automation to help businesses build a winning social care strategy. You can set up auto-replies for common queries hitting your Instagram Inbox and respond to others in the app without wasting time switching between different platforms.
The Inbox supports images and emojis, so you can set the right tone for your Instagram conversations. Using our social CRM functionality, you can even save conversation histories so you know when someone’s contacted you before.
Insta.Direct Instagram chatbot
When you get a lot of messages, even the best customer support agent can get overwhelmed. But not all messages require the human touch. By setting up an Instagram Messenger chatbot, you can deal with simple queries automatically and field only complex and important cases to your human agents.
By using a bot, your agents will have more time to find and deal with the really important conversations affecting your brand on Instagram. What’s not to love?
Social media platforms have become a popular customer service touchpoint. Consumers want and expect responses from brands on Instagram, and businesses need to keep up with that demand. When they don’t, they lose control of the conversation, lose customers and ultimately harm their bottom line.
By creating an Instagram customer service strategy, you can keep your business’s image squeaky clean and build a happy and profitable audience.