Given Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that Facebook will begin to emphasize messaging as the primary focus of its services, now is an opportune time to talk about social media and the role it plays in customer service. Brands and public sector organizations have used Twitter, Facebook and others over the years to market themselves to users. More recently, corporate and government social media accounts have become de-facto customer service lines, with sometimes good, but mostly poor results.

All it takes is one disgruntled airline passenger, angry about their flight being delayed and who happens to have 200 Twitter followers, to fire a single tweet and the manager running the airline account giving a snarky response. Hours later, the airline finds itself in a firestorm over one incident.

Customer service is more than what is actually being done to solve the issue of the particular customer; it’s also about the delivery and tone of the response. Two things can be true at the same time: customers deserve to have their problems addressed, and companies and public organizations should see customer service as an opportunity for brand promotion, especially in the age of social media.

To make the most of using your social channels for customer service, consider doing the following:

1) Have dedicated customer service social channels. Using the main brand or organization social channels for customer requests and complaints, while easiest, is not advisable. Timelines become clogged, and comments become more about what an organization has done wrong today instead of a post’s intended message. Customer service social channels should be like @TeamNike, which is specifically dedicated to answering questions from Nike customers and giving best practice advice. A channel to avoid emulating would be @Delta, which uses its corporate Twitter feed to promote the airline and answer passenger requests. The feed also directs users to another website to file a formal request with the airline, separate from Twitter, which only adds another step to the process and complicates the user experience.

2) Once you’ve set up your dedicated customer service social channels, put out general customer service promotional messages and respond to individual cases. Customer service social channels should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. @SamsungSupport is a good example of this; the Twitter profile educates customers on everything from the correct way to unbox a new TV to answering specific customer questions. Local governments can also implement this strategy on social media by promoting local events, sending out emergency information, and soliciting and responding to citizen feedback.

3) Be personable. Customers have been trained to think service requests get routed to a call center or a giant email inbox and that their issue will never be resolved. To combat this perception, brands from Skyscanner to Southwest Airlines to Domino’s end social media posts with the name or initials of the employee controlling the profile at that time. This small touch gives customers a personal connection to an otherwise faceless entity.

4) Invest in using messaging services like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp as customer service tools. It is convenient for customers and comes more naturally to younger generations than calling a number or filling out a form. A study by Coversocial found that a little more than half (51%) of American and British consumers would be repeat customers to businesses that used social media messenger apps for customer service.

Social media can make or break a company or an organization’s reputation with the public. Using social media as a tool of engagement, support and promotion, when done well, can generate positive headlines and boost positive brand perception.

Cooksey Communications has the expertise in content marketing, creative services and crisis communications to help companies and organizations effectively utilize their social channels for customer service. Let us know how we can help you!

Cooksey Staff