The Art of Social Customer Service

In today’s digital ecosystem, social media is a great way to drive awareness about your brand or business. It’s also a great way to engage with existing or prospective customers but a lot of companies are starting to discover that it’s also a great way to handle customer service.

This can be a bad thing for some companies. Take the example of the case of Hassan Syed who’s father lost his luggage on British Airways. He spent $1,000 on sponsored tweets to make sure that as many people as possible saw his distaste for British Airways handling of his problem. Unfortunately for BA the onslaught started afterhours while no one was manning their social media accounts. So for 8 long hours they allowed this problem to fester and grow without any response. By the time they were back at the office Hassan’s tweets had already been seen by over 75,000 people.

Knowing that social media is critical for into the modern age for customer service you need to be thoughtful and creative about how you represent your business online and that includes the customer service aspect. Here are a 5 quick tips to help you ace customer service on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t Leave Complaints Unchecked

If someone’s complaining about your brand or business on social media it’s important to engage them right away. The longer you let them complain and get noticed the more difficult the issue will be to resolve. Responding quickly is key but you also want to do your best to drive the conversation off social media so you can talk person to person. Move the conversation to a forum where the public can’t see every last comment that is made.

If you are an international business it might be wise to have someone manning your accounts at all hours. As mentioned in the scenario above with British Airways, overseas complaints could be after hours for you and cause you to miss an opportunity to shape the conversation in a way that has the least amount of damage to your brand.

Show Some Empathy

Just because you are working on a computer through a social media channel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like a human being. When a customer comes to you with a problem make sure that you express interest and show that you care about the problem. If customers see that you recognize the problem and are working to fix it they feel that you’re listening to them. Responding to these issues with the motive to understand and assist will definitely help you resolve the issue and gain trust.

Surprise Your Customers

Not everyone who goes on social media to complain about a brand believes that they’re going to get a response. A lot of people will tweet or post something just to vent about a bad experience that they had. If you have a brand manager who is on top of things this can be used to your advantage by quickly responding to customer complaints. If a customer quickly receives a thoughtful response to a complaint that they didn’t think anyone was listening to, it can quickly turn their attitude from combative to friendly.

Respond Quickly

You’re probably seeing a common theme through a lot of these pointers – time is of the essence. If it takes you a couple days or a week to respond to a customer complaint it looks like your company is either lazy and slow or that you don’t care. Slow response time also makes it look like you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on or worse, avoiding conversations about your brand altogether. The longer that complaint lingers without response the worse you look regardless of what you say. So be quick on the draw.

Turn Critics Into Brand Advocates

If you are able to engage your customers and fix these situations quickly you will have a happy customer who can be turned into an advocate for your brand. They’ll respond with gratitude and if you’re lucky, maybe even delete the original complaint messages. People talk and by solving the problem you will have a customer who goes out and tells others that they are satisfied with the actions you took to quickly resolve their complaint. Most people who complain about a brand on social media are just looking for a quick solution to their problem, so if you can offer that to them and you’re going to win.

To sum, be open honest and quick to respond. Understanding these principles will ensure that social customer service helps to drive new customers to your brand.


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