These days more and more consumers are opting to take customer service issues to social media rather than the phone lines. In fact, so many customers are making this shift that the marketing powers that be have coined a term for customer service via social media: social care. According to Nielsen’s Social Media Report 2012, 47% of social media users engage in social care, and it seems that they do so on a fairly frequent basis, with 9% participating daily, 21% weekly and 70% monthly.

29% of social media users turn to a company’s Facebook page to access social care

Customers use a number of social channels to call attention to product or service issues, but the most popular channel is a company’s Facebook page. So what does it take for a company embrace this trend and build an efficient system for reporting and responding to customer concerns on Facebook? Use these five starter questions to set a basis for your company’s Facebook customer service strategy.

Who will field and respond to customer service inquiries?

Does your marketing department hold full responsibility? Will your customer service team be involved? If so, under what circumstances? Defining roles solidifies responsibilities and holds specific parties accountable for social care.

What are your social care goals and expectations?

Given the instantaneous nature of Facebook, concerned customers are bound to expect a fairly immediate response to their questions or complaints. Keep this in mind, and then set expectations for your team, such as “we will respond to customer concerns, both positive and negative, within 3 hours of the original post.” Remember to be realistic when setting a timeframe.

What is your customer service platform of choice?

Would you rather have customers communicate issues through another platform? Rather than simply ignoring Facebook inquiries, make this preference clear in the about section of your profile. Offer a preferred phone number, Twitter handle or email address that disgruntled customers can use instead – but don’t expect this to deter all Facebook comments. Be ready to reach out to those that insist on taking social care to Facebook.

Are there any FAQs that your staff can be prepared for?

Your customer service team will be able to share key insights for this step. Ask them to create a script for common questions and complaints for the community management team to refer to. Of course there will be issues outside this predefined set, but knowing the basic answers will save time and effort.

How will you monitor Facebook for customer service inquiries?

From Buddy Media to Get Satisfaction and Parature, there are a number of tools out there to help you track and manage customer support efforts on Facebook. The right choice for you and your team depends on inquiry volume  and company budget.