Customer support teams handle all inbound product questions, and marketing or community grabs all messages related to the brand, the content, and community love. For instance, these are the numbers we track within each area: Customer support goals Conversations — How many unique conversations did we participate in? Marketing goals Reaching inbox zero twice a day, morning and afternoon (inbox zero means that all messages in our Community folder have received replies) Many marketing messages (“Love using @buffer!” or “This blog post from @buffer is so great”) tend to be less urgent in nature. We type “M” to open up the window of folders, then type the first couple letters of the folder name we want. We try to ‘like’ these, and then add them to the Community folder and assign Links to our blog content where the text is the same as the headline (If it’s the first time someone has @-mentioned, then we try to add a thank you note in response.) How we reply to customer messages Phew! Though it took most of this article to make it to this section, replying to conversations is definitely the bulk of the day-to-day work for social media engagement teams. We are friendly, conversational, kind, and empathetic — just as we strive to be in email support, product copy, blog posts, and everywhere else online One of the key differences to note with social media engagement: these conversations happen in public, and we have character limits to consider. For example, you may say “Let me know how you get on / keep in touch / let us know if anything else comes up.” For longer conversations, add (1/2) or (2/2) as needed Lean in to using screenshots, video walkthroughs and FAQ guides to save characters, too The majority of replying occurs in the folders for product support and marketing. Over to you How does your team handle social media engagement?
Yet some brands find a way to answer 100% of requests.
What’s their secret?
Having many hands on deck certainly helps. We’ve found that some of the fastest-responding, maximum-delighting brands on social media employ a two-team approach to responding. Customer support teams handle all inbound product questions, and marketing or community grabs all messages related to the brand, the content, and community love.
We take a two-team approach at Buffer, and we’d love to give you an inside look at our process.
Keep reading for the blueprint on how we manage our social media responses:
- 1,500 customers helped each week
- 3,000+ messages sent each week
- ASAP response times
We’re able to do what we do on social media with Buffer Reply, our tool of choice for social media engagement. Our playbook and our tool are pretty intertwined, as you’ll see below. If you want to give Reply a look, we have free trials available. We’d love to hear what you think.
The 4 keys to working together in the inbox
- Set goals that complement one another
- Create automation rules to get messages into the right spots
- Pick a team to triage at least twice per day
- Reply with a shared voice
Much more on each of these areas below.
1. Goal-setting for social media teams
One of the unique elements of a shared social media response strategy is that you have two teams working in the same area. This makes it all the more important that everyone’s goals are aligned.
In our case, we have a customer support team and a marketing team sharing duties.
We start with the vision. Here’s how each team thinks about the biggest of “whys” on social media engagement:
- Customer support’s vision: Set the bar for customer support
- Marketing’s vision: Deliver happiness to those who reach out seeking a connection with us.
Can you see a shared theme?
We’re fortunate that our team’s visions fit snugly side-by-side under the banner of CX (customer experience). This didn’t happen overnight. We’ve had many conversations about cross-functional goals, and we definitely see more progress we can make in order to keep perfecting this partnership.
Our advice: Make alignment a priority from the start.
In terms of exercises to help you get there, we employed a couple: HubSpot’s flywheel exercise to find opportunities to maximize delight, the Jim Collins vision framework to create a vivid description, and Julie Zhou’s strategy litmus test to create alignment.
This big-picture vision-setting helps make the conversation about goals even easier. We’ve found that you don’t have to share the same exact number goals across marketing and support as long as you’re aligned on the bigger vision. For instance, these are the numbers we track within each area:
Customer support goals
- Conversations — How many unique conversations did we participate in?
- Replies sent — How many total replies did we send?
- Average first response time
These goals help us track the volume of social media support requests as well as how fast we’re able to respond to that volume. We’ve found that a speedy response is a great way to deliver delight to our customers, and we want to be sure we’re organizing our team in such a way to meet that goal.
- Reaching inbox zero twice a day, morning and afternoon (inbox zero means that all messages in our Community folder have received replies)
Many marketing messages (“Love using @buffer!” or “This blog post from @buffer is so great”) tend to be less urgent in nature. So rather than setting a lofty goal for response time, we prioritize a delightful experience by ensuring that everyone gets a response who needs one.
With Reply, it’s very easy to pull our customer support stats. All Reply plans include robust reporting on your team’s performance in the inbox. We refer to the overview report quite often:
In addition, there are reports for engagement and individual teammate responses.
The engagement report shows how stats on open conversations and what percentages of conversations receive a reply. We use this data to track response time, volume, and how well we’re engaging with our customers.
The teammate report breaks things down to the individual level, showing the number of conversations that each of your team participates in, as well as the social networks where those conversation occurred.
2. Automation rules to filter social media messages
We would be lost without the automation rules of Buffer Reply.
This is how we take the thousands of incoming messages each week and route them to the appropriate places. It’s how we handle spam, how we filter out non-Buffer “buffer” mentions, and so much more.
Here’s a peek at the many options we have in Reply’s rules settings:
We can automate conversations according to these variables:
- Contains (include links)
- Contains only mentions
- Begins with
- Recipient is
- Language is
- Type is (Instagram comment, direct message, tweet, etc.)
- Is in reply to tweet
And based on those “if” statements, then we can do one of the following:
- Move to any folder
- Assign to a teammate
- Tag with any tag
- Set status to “Closed”
We have hundreds of automation rules in place (literally; we add new ones all the time). We have a huge spectrum: large rules that put all comments into our marketing folder, small rules that mark very specific things as spam. If you’re curious about any in particular, please do reach…