There’s something very unappealing about picking up the phone to call a customer service number.

If you feel similarly, you’re not alone—when it comes to customer service, people are turning to other methods like in-app messaging and social media as their preferred method of choice. Over the last year, for example, social messaging grew 110% as consumers’ preferred outreach method for customer service issues. Why spend an afternoon on hold when you could simply Tweet or DM a brand with your questions?

This shift toward online communication comes at a time when digital customer service interactions are expected to grow by 40% and average weekly support requests are up 20%. But the direct access afforded by digital channels like social and increase in message volume can quickly get in the way of a brand’s customer responsiveness. Your customers don’t care that your inbox is filled with hundreds (or thousands) of messages. They just care that their inquiries are resolved in a timely and efficient manner.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how Sprout’s Tagging capabilities can help even the busiest customer service teams maintain and scale their customer responsiveness on social. With an organized Tagging strategy, a streamlined inbox and clearly defined roles, brands can create a best-in-class customer service experience that leaves everybody satisfied.

3 ways to improve customer service with Tags

When it comes to customer service, speed matters. Seventy-nine percent of consumers expect a response within 24 hours of reaching out on social media according to the Sprout Social IndexTM. If you’re manually sorting and responding to every incoming message, you’re not likely to meet this expectation. And few things annoy customers more than feeling like their questions, frustrations and feedback are being ignored.

With Sprout’s Tagging capabilities, customer service agents can not only get to all those messages but maintain their responsiveness as the volume of inbound messages grows. Using an inbound Tagging strategy, brands are able to strengthen and scale their customer service efforts in three specific ways:

1. Prioritize the most important messages first

Not every customer message requires an immediate answer. Replying to a compliment, while nice to acknowledge, is not nearly as important as responding to an angry customer who is threatening to cancel their subscription. With Tags, customer service agents can easily and quickly categorize incoming messages by type and sentiment to better manage their replies.

Start by brainstorming all the different types of messages you likely receive on a given day. This includes things like product feedback, complaints, billing issues, service questions and sales leads. From there, you can apply tags to organize your inbound messages based on message type and level of urgency. A complaint about a lost order or a question about billing issues, for example, is going to take priority over a Tweet celebrating a recent product launch. With Tags, customer service teams can quickly sort incoming messages accordingly and identify which messages need immediate attention.

Tags are equally valuable for managing an acute spike in inbound messages following situations like a product recall or service outage. With Sprout’s Advanced Plan, team members can set up automated rules to tag inbound messages containing certain keywords or phrases to a relevant category or agent. This eliminates the need to manually Tag messages and gives customer service representatives more time to focus on resolving the issue at hand.

2. Delegate tasks across your distributed customer service team

In addition to keeping your inbox organized, Sprout’s Smart Inbox makes it simple to assign messages to specific representatives across your team, regardless of their location. Maybe you have one person responsible for answering all billing inquiries while another customer service representative handles all product-related questions. By creating Tags for specific topics or questions and applying them to incoming messages, you can increase your customer response time while getting people the most helpful answers possible.

For larger customer service teams, Tags can also help streamline the Smart Inbox and enable service agents to focus only on the messages assigned to them. Customer service representatives can create personalized workflows within the Smart Inbox and only view inbound messages tagged with their name. Using tag-based Inbox Rules, team leaders can keep their agents on task by routing messages directly to each person’s Inbox View and even establish notification alerts for high-priority messages.

3. Scale your customer service efforts with ease

As consumers increasingly use social to communicate with brands, there will come a time when customer support leaders need to evaluate if they need to hire more service agents.

One way to determine if now is the right time to hire is by reviewing the Tag Report and Inbox Team Report. Here, you can see the total number of messages assigned to each of your team members as well as the average first reply time and average reply wait times for messages that have the agent Tag applied. These reports are a great way to evaluate if work is evenly distributed across your team and whether or not you need to bring on additional help to meet demand. If you notice the average reply wait times is trending upward, it may be a sign that your current team is swamped with work and unable to keep up with the sheer volume of inbound messages.

Admittedly, the thought of onboarding customer service agents at a time when inbound messages show no sign of slowing down can seem daunting. But thanks to Tags, you can get new team members up to speed on what types of messages you regularly receive and how to appropriately respond. Instead of telling new hires how inbound messages are categorized, you can actually show them an example of a high-priority issue or what messages that fall under the category of a sales lead look like.

Tags will take your service efforts from good to great

No one likes an unhappy customer, especially when that customer takes to social media to air out their grievances with a particular brand. With Sprout’s Tagging capabilities, customer support teams can provide exceptional customer service and maintain that excellence—no matter how many messages they receive. By proactively tagging inbound messages and keeping inboxes organized, customer service teams ensure every customer interaction is helpful and efficient.

Ready to take your customer responsiveness efforts to the next level? Sign up for a demo of Sprout Social today.