The do’s and don’ts of social media customer service

Posted on Posted in Customer Service

Recently I had an issue with a package I was having delivered. While tracking it online and noticed the status was stuck at “on the truck” for 3 days straight. I could see the driver falling behind schedule the first day, maybe even the second, but by the third day I was getting anxious and decided to reach out to the delivery company (who shall remain nameless).

I looked online, saw they had a Twitter account devoted to customer service and I tweeted (as succinctly as possible) them my issue. Now to wait for the reply.

While I had a glimmer of hope someone would tweet back, deep down I knew it would be days before I’d get a response – if at all. A day and a half later I picked up the phone and someone was able to sort out my issue right there and then.

high fiveLater that evening I got a response on my tweet.

 For me this was an experiment, to see if this company would follow through on the expectation their customer service handle was promising. If you’ve set up shop with a customer service Twitter handle or Facebook page, I promise you, people will come to expect a fast response.

Having managed social channels for a bunch of different brands over the years, I’ve seen just about every possible complaint from the outrageous to aggravating. But I’ve also seen people move from a place of anger to a place of appreciation and give a heartfelt thanks when their issues has been dealt with.

But it’s clear brands still struggle with what to do when it comes to social media customer service. So here are a few things to consider.

Don’t set up customer service channels unless it’s someone’s full-time job

Lots of brands don’t want to mix customer service with marketing and so they set up a “BrandXHelps” handle – and that’s fine. But just know, you’re setting people’s expectations super high and they’ll assume someone’s monitoring that channel 24/7. Getting back to people in a day or two, is too long and your customer’s aggravation (which is already high) will just grow. If you’re not willing to go all in – don’t bother.

Don’t ignore them

Pretty much everyone deserves a response – even if they are being a bit obnoxious. I’ve seen people start in a really bad place and come around after a few messages back and forth. Once they see a human is responding they tend to relax and help find a resolution. That said not everyone can be helped…

It’s okay to say you can’t help them

Not everyone’s problem can be fixed and sometimes just acknowledging their issue is enough. Being empathetic is sometimes all they want. Either way, saying there’s nothing you can do is an acceptable answer.

Don’t miss out on the good stuff

Customer service isn’t always just about negative experiences. Catching positive customer experiences and retweeting them is just good word of mouth marketing. But what do you do when someone doesn’t tag your brand in the message? Keyword searches on Twitter or with platforms like SproutSocial allow you to find those tweets and retweet them or just say thanks.


For sticking with this post until the end, I’ll leave you with this parting thought. Considering how hard it is to get organic impressions these days I strongly believe brands will win or lose on their one-to-one interactions. If you can sway a customer or surprise and delight them with great service you can guarantee they’ll tell their friends.

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