Social media is quick, easy, and accessible. With its real-time nature, brands are increasingly using social media for customer service, and customers are increasingly expecting timely responses. While it makes sense, it is important to remember that customer service and social media are separate entities.

Monitoring engagement is a huge part of a successful social media strategy. When it comes to customer service, it just as important to converse with those who engage negatively with your content, as it is to respond to those advocating for your brand. Companies need to tactfully interact with each person in a transparent way that feels human, keep fans engaged, and ultimately directs the consumer off-platform to resolve issues.

Easier said than done, right?

While a comprehensive social media customer service strategy can’t be summed up in a quick list, these eight tips on how to use social media effectively and efficiently, while ultimately resolving customer service issues offline are a great place to start:

Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s not you! It is important for brands to approach each complaint objectively and remember that customer satisfaction is the priority. When a customer insults you, it can be easier than you think for lines to get blurred. You don’t want to make matters worse by responding aggressively.

Say Thank You

This may seem like an obvious move, but common human courtesy can often get overlooked. Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. Acknowledge his or her concern and make it clear that you empathize with the trouble he or she is  having. Consumers should feel like they’re leaving more than just comment. They should feel like they are contributing important and appreciated feedback to a brand.

Silence Is Golden

Sometimes not saying anything is the best response. There will be customers who want to defame your brand for no reason.  In this case, your best defense is silence. Do not bring unnecessary attention to negative comments.

Don’t Hide From Your Problems

Deleting a negative comment to preserve your image is not the answer. Be transparent. Accept your flaws, while using good judgment ––  profanity and hateful language should never be tolerated. Pro tip: Facebook’s Profanity Filter can automatically hide inappropriate language.

Take Customer Advice To Heart

Respond to feedback, even if it may not be warranted. Start conversations. Be open to suggestions. Users will see the brand as a company who truly wants the best for its customers when the brand takes user suggestions.

You’re A Human, Not a Robot

Customers do not want an automated response — they want a response that is genuine and addresses their specific situation. Though a brand may have a particular voice, sometimes the right tone depends on your customer. Does the customer use emojis and exclamation points? Reciprocate it. Does the customer sound like they might not be fluent in your language? Don’t respond using slang.

Be Personal

When possible, add your name or initials to  the end of a response to humanize your organization and build trust with the customer. Use the customer’s name to show that you value them as a person and not just a number.

Take Them Offline

The main goal with customer service on social is to actually move it off social. It is important to converse with consumers in a private matter, rather than littering your feeds with customer service conversations. Not to mention, a medium like Twitter prevents companies from replying with long enough replies to provide adequate information. It’s as simple as:

Hi [NAME]. Thank you for reaching out. Can you please send us a private message with your full name, address, number, and a description of the issue you are experiencing? Once you provide that information, we will pass it along to our team so we can get you in contact with the right person (FACEBOOK).

@NAME Thank you for reaching out. Can you send us your contact information in a DM so we can get the right person in touch with you? (TWITTER)

Bottom line: social media is a valuable aspect of customer service for brands in the digital world, but it must be navigated carefully. When addressing customer service complaints on social, it is important to be responsive and engaging, but ultimately resolve the issues with the person offline.