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Social Media as Customer Service

WRITTEN by: Catherine Fimiani |
categories: Interactive

Jun 2017


Transforming Customer Service for the Better

Gone are the days of writing a letter to the manager. Social media is now the default outreach for consumers. It has transformed the way that brands and consumers communicate, and allowed consumers to publicly praise and (more often) shame brands. While this has undoubtedly given more power to consumers, smart brands are using social media as an extension of their customer service operations to turn customer feedback, both positive and negative, into online goodwill.

For brands, it’s important to think about social media commentators as not just happy or upset customers; they’re also representatives of a larger customer audience. In fact, users with a significant following often feel that they are representing a larger audience than just themselves. When a brand responds to one of these messages, two things happen: it encourages more people to reach out to the brand, and the user receives the affirmation they were seeking from their message. In this case, using social media as customer service is a win-win for both the brand and the user.

Our lives are becoming increasingly transparent due to social media, and customer service has followed suit. When brands make a conscious effort to publicly acknowledge and repair their (small) mistakes, it shows that they are being transparent with their customer service. In contrast, it reflects negatively on a company if they publicly receive complaints and allow them to go unaddressed.

Here are some examples of how brands are doing it wrong:

And here are examples of doing it right:

Another aspect of using social media as customer service is building relationships, which happens through encouraging brand mentions. Some brands have moved beyond just combating complaints on social media, and have made it a regular practice to interact with their users. Even better, companies like Chipotle and Wendy’s know exactly how to solicit brand mentions from their followers. For example, mention Wendy’s and ask a question about another fast food chain, and they will often fire-back with a witty reply. See these examples:

Social media has created an opportunity for businesses to take customer service into their own hands, transform it for the better, and use it as a strength of the company. By using humor (when appropriate), creativity and empathy, you can make social media an effective platform for your brand’s customer service, too.

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