Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become places where your patients are talking about you, as well as seeking assistance. According to recent research from Cone, Inc., 46% of customers want to solve a problem, and almost 40% want to give retailers their feedback when using social media as a means for customer support. If your patients have a presence on social media, they’re likely to use these platforms in this way.

The first step to using your social media platforms as a customer service tool is to address inquiries that are sent directly to you. This is the easy part. Next, you’ll need to start listening for issues, which may be raised by patients who aren’t following you, or who aren’t directly addressing you in their posts. In other words, you need to track the entire conversation around your brand.

When using Twitter for customer service, you’ll need to check more than just your regular feed, which consists of those people you’re following and who are following you. Try creating a few saved searches for words and phrases patients are likely to use on Twitter when talking about you. Plan to check your saved searches a few times per week and respond as quickly as possible when an opportunity arises.

If you run into a minor issue, a simple @reply to the sender may be enough. When using the @reply, others will see what you’re doing, which can help reassure patients or even solve problems they were going to ask you about, saving you additional time and spurring additional conversation.
If an issue requires a more complex response, the patient is upset, or you want to get in contact with a patient fast, either try to direct message them (only possible if you follow them and they follow you) or give them a fast way to contact you, like a personal e-mail address or direct phone number.

Use these suggestions to let your patients know you’re there to help and want to resolve their issue quickly. If you do it well, you may even create an opportunity to turn a potentially dissatisfied patient into a happy advocate of your brand, all in less time than more traditional customer service methods often take.

Jessica Clark is an eight-year marketing veteran in the optical industry. She has led successful social media campaigns in line with overall marketing strategy for VisionWeb.

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