Social Media Can Kill Customer Service

Customer service in the early 1900's is a lot different than in the era of social media

Customer service on social media is a reality.

It is easier to tweet at a company on Twitter or post on Facebook than call them.

Billions use social media every day and twice as many consumers (67%) have used social media for customer service than to view a brand’s marketing.

This seems intuitively obvious but these numbers show the impact of good or bad customer service:

  1. 86% of customers stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service
  2. 80% of customers say they would pay more for better customer service
  3. 78% of online customers recommend the company to their friends after a great customer service experience
  4. 80% of businesses believe they deliver superior customer service while only 8% of customers think the same companies actually do

Social Media is not Just for Selling

It is about total customer experience. Daniel Newman summarizes how businesses should view customer service on social media:

“Social media is no longer an isolated marketing channel used primarily to sell…What once served primarily as a platform to increase sales is now a meeting space, and has become part of the brand experience itself.”

Why Can Social Media Kill Customer Service?

Bad customer service kills relationships.

I have spoken to a customer after their equipment stopped working in the middle of a job. Their service email or phone calls were missed and without troubleshooting, they lost money. This is what happened to me.

Thankfully not all customer service phone calls feel like this.

Customers Expect Responses on Social Media

  1. 32% of customers expect a response within thirty minutes of their social media complaint
  2. 42% of customers expect a response within one hour of their social media complaint
  3. 43% of consumers rated a direct response to their question as most important if they visit a business’ social media page

Unfortunately, a customer’s poor interaction with a company can make it to the internet and go viral (Reddit has a dedicated section to this). Someone even paid to advertise their tweet about what they thought was British Airway’s lack of service.

Six Steps to Avoid a S*** Hit the Fan Social Media Situation

Social Media Examiner and Buffer have great articles on social media customer service. Some of the information is used here:

1. Respond Quickly and Acknowledge The Problem

Ideally within an hour but at least that day. Some people just want to know that a business has heard their problem, even if they do not provide an immediate solution.

Alerts can be setup for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media accounts to monitor accounts. Alerts can be sent directly to a phone application or email.

Restaurant Example:

Tweet from customer to Chinese restaurant that they needed customer service 1

Seamless responded very quickly asking for the order number to check into it. Nick responded how every business dreams:

Tweet from customer to Chinese restaurant that they needed customer service 2

2. Personalize Each Response

Any company’s posts/tweets can be signed by the person who sent them, which humanizes the social media customer service experience.

Buffer has quite an impressive social media presence. They are better than most at responding with personality and friendliness. Follow them on Twitter for real examples of social media customer service.

Buffer Tweets Example:

Buffer Tweets on Twitter for social media customer service

3. Move Conversations Offline When Appropriate

Social media is a public place and negative comments might prompt others to pile on. However, moving the conversation offline before someone’s issue was acknowledged or they know the next step can be a negative.

Website Problem Example:

A few months ago, I had a problem trying to purchase music from a website for my YouTube videos. I emailed multiple times, got no response so I tweeted them my problem.

No one responded and they did not get my business.

If they had responded to me on Twitter “Please email customer service” it is not hard to imagine my reaction.

However, a simple Twitter response “Sorry about that, looking into issue. Please email support@website.com subject line ‘Twitter help’ we will respond right away-Ken” would have been perfect and made me want to do business with them.

4. Do Not Delete MOST Negative Comments

Customers can screen shot negative social media exchanges. If someone’s comments are not unfair, rude or disrespectful, deleting negative comments can make it worse.

Bad customer service can go viral and cause more harm than an original tweet, post or comment.

From my perspective, I am more concerned with how a company responds than with the initial customer complaint. I realize that when someone is upset they might not be fair in their criticism.

Domino’s Pizza Complaint Example:

Domino's Tweets on Twitter after a customer thought their order had been messed up

5. Follow Issues Through to Completion

This seems obvious but sometimes the customer will not call, email, tweet or respond back. Sometimes their issue is resolved but that is not always the case.

Unresolved issues can result in Facebook or Twitter rants a few weeks later.

Zappos Example:

Zappos exchange with customer or Twitter

6. Look Out for Company Mentions

Not every mention of a company will show up in Twitter or Facebook notifications. On Twitter, data suggests 31% of company mentions do not include the businesses username.

A company will only get a notification 69% of the time when they are mentioned.

There are many tools that allow a company to monitor for mentions across the internet and social media, these two are free:

  1. Google Alerts — Put in company name, product names and other keywords related to the company to get emails when anything pops up on the internet bearing those keywords.
  2. Social Mention — Type in company name to search for mentions on social media.

tips from the trenches by ERP 101 small business resource center logo

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I share social media basics and success stories, press the heart button if you’ve ever used social media for customer service.

Even though I write this on every post, thanks for reading.