The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (2023)

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (1)

Ready to do something really groundbreaking and revolutionary in social media marketing?

I’ve got just the thing: customer service.

We talk a lot at Buffer about customer happiness, and it’s because we truly believe in it. Here’s how our Leo Widrich puts it:

“Customer support is the very rare opportunity to connect to your customers on an emotional level. You can’t do that in any other way.”

And while there are a growing number of other awesome companies who feel the same way we do, there’s still a pretty big gap between what customers want from social media customer service and what many brands are delivering. That’s where the whole “groundbreaking and revolutionary” thing comes in.

“I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Exceeding expectations may be easier than you think. Treat customers like real people and genuinely care about their issues (and fixing them) and you can majorly wow them. And if Buffer’s story is any indication, all that love will really pay off for you.

In this ultimate guide to using social media for customer service, we’ll discuss everything from why social media customer service is so important to using the right tone and the right tools to measuring your results.

First, the bad news. Even if you think you’re doing amazing social media customer service, chances are decent that…well, you’re not. Our buddies at HelpScout uncovered this astounding stat:

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (2)

It’s simple: Customers want, expect and are prepared to reward great social media customer service, but not many brands are living up to their expectations.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (3)

On the bright side, that means there is a huge opportunity for you to stand out and really wow the customer (OK, and also a huge opportunity for your competitors if you don’t). How huge? Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Only 36% of consumers that make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively.
  • When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.
  • 71% of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response.
  • 43% of consumers say that a direct response to their questions is most important at a social media site. 31% expect the social media site to provide direct access to customer service representatives or product experts.
  • 86% of social media customers would like or love to hear from a company regarding a complaint.

Pretty convincing, eh?

Even more intriguing is how social media customers diverge from other customers in terms of expectations.

As you can see in this chart from an American Express study, social media produces more reward for wowing customers (yay, social customers tell way more people about good experiences!) but also more risk for failing customers (yikes, 83% have bailed on a purchase because their service sucked!).

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (4)

Then there’s the small matter of every single interaction being open for public view when it comes to social media. More than 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week, and roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature. And one bad interaction can wipe out even more good ones.

(Video) 4 Ways to Use Social Media for Customer Service and Support

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (5)

But get the social media buzz going in your direction and the possibilities are limitless.

So now that we know the opportunity we have in amazing social media customer service, let’s figure out just what customers want and expect on social media.

1. A quick response to their problems

The No. 1 thing customers want? A fast response! According to an Edison study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (6)

And here’s a truly mind-blowing stat: More consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick but ineffective response than would recommend a brand that provides a slow but effective solution.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (7)

In other words, it’s more important to social media customers that you be fast than that you be correct.

Now that doesn’t mean we brand representatives should rush to give speedy, useless answers, but it does show just how important speed is for social media customers.

At the very outside, you’ve got just a few hours to close the loop. The vast majority of Twitter and Facebook users – 83% and 71% respectively – want a response within the same day of posting. And yet, lots of brands aren’t picking up on the urgency customers have.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (8)

2. Care and honesty

This one’s tougher to quantify, but just as important as speed – especially knowing that 70 percent of the buying experience is based on how a person thinks they’re being treated.

It’s easy to feel like an insignificant speck in a sea of social media, but your customers need to know that they’re not. They want to know that their issue is as important to you as it is to them.

Simple phrases like “I hear you” or “I’m sorry” can quickly transform a conversation and begin to build a real relationship. If you goofed, ‘fess up. If you don’t know the answer yet, go ahead and say so (remember that whole speed thing from earlier?) – just keep in touch until you do.

At Buffer, we’ve had a lot of experience in the being-real-with-customers-even-when-it’s-tough department. Here’s a thorough overview of what we did right (and what was just OK) in handling a difficult security situation last year.

Making it personal can help, too. Our Happiness Heroes regularly add a personal touch by making sure to add their first names to their replies or comments (you’ll see this on Twitter especially). That way, people immediately feel that they are talking to an actual person and not a talking wall or logo.

It also never hurts to use names when talking with people, even over social media. As Dale Carnegie says, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

(Video) How to start social media customer support? A beginner's guide.

3. Help where they are

Generally, we all want help in the same place where we reach out and ask for it.

If a customer asks for help on Twitter, they want their answer in the form of a tweet, not an email. If they post a question on Facebook, they don’t want to be told to call an 800 number.

Getting shuffled around is a customer pet peeve both off and online, according to an American Express survey (and also, everyone I’ve ever met).

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (9)

So it helps to know where online customers are looking for help.

Until recently, Facebook ruled when it came to customer care – but these days, Twitter is where you’re most likely to hear from a customer, according to the most recent information from SocialBakers.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (10)

Customers might also reach out on your blog, ask questions on another social media site where you’re active or even post comments on forums or message boards specific to your industry.

Study your own patterns for each network your customers are active on and make sure you plan accordingly.

How and when to monitor and respond

Once you know where your customers are reaching out and what their expectations are, it’s time to wow them. Here’s how:

1. Monitor your brand

The first step of great social media customer service is making sure you know everything that’s being said about you online so you can listen in for issues and respond when needed. For this, you might need a social media monitoring tool. There are tons of them out there – here’s a giant wiki of the many tools out there. To get started, there are plenty of free tools, including:

For bigger organizations that need a full-service social care solution, options include tools like Buffer favorite SparkCentral, as well as Salesforce Social Hub, Zendesk, Freshdesk and more.

2. Know when to step in (and when not to)

But even as you monitor, know that not every mention – or even every complaint – is an invitation to enter a conversation.

A Netbase survey that asked consumers how they feel about social listening from brands revealed that more than half want to be able to talk about companies on social media without them paying attention – many even believe brand listening is a direct invasion of their privacy.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (11)

3. Harness your empathy

Understanding the difference between when to step in and when to just listen can be tricky. It helps to work on cultivating a strong sense of empathy.

(Video) 20 Examples Of The Best Social Media Customer Service

Looking at each message from the customer’s point of view can help you clarify thorny territory, identify problem areas and figure out the right tone to strike when responding to an issue. The same Netbase study suggests the following four tenets to use in understanding whether to step into a customer conversation:

  • Don’t just listen; understand. What’s the real meaning behind the comment or question?
  • Consider the context of the message. Is it a conversation with friends? A chance to vent?
  • Only engage when you can truly deliver value.
  • Focus on listening that doesn’t intrude but instead builds insights and relationships.

Measuring success

So how will you measure your progress when it comes to wowing customers on social media? Here are a few customer service metrics to start with.

1. Volume of messages

The obvious place to start is here – how many customer requests, issues and problems are you responding to every period?

For example, in January 2013, Buffer sent 9771 emails and 5700 tweets and had 265 live chats (wow!).

Total volume tells you a couple of things: how big the workload is, how many people you need on your team to keep customer happiness high and (over time) whether you’re answering more questions or fewer.

2. Resolution rate

Inbox zero is a great feeling for anyone, but it’s the lifeblood of customer service. Measuring resolution rate lets you know how many of the total issues your customers have that you’ve resolved per reporting period.

3. Time to answer/resolve

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We’ve established that speed is really important in social media customer service, so it only makes sense to measure timing issues like average time it takes to answer a question or resolve a problem.

Here’s an example of how we measure these numbers at Buffer and how we did last month.

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (13)

4. Customer happiness

Last but definitely not least, it’s important to get an idea of how customers are feeling about your brand overall.

You can quantify this by collecting your social media mentions per reporting period and then analyzing them by sentiment, like positive, negative or neutral.

Here, you can see how Buffer partner Mention collects this information in a report that also shows all the channels your mentions are coming from.

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When it comes to email, we use Hively at Buffer. In short, after every email reply we send, the person on the other end has the option to give us a rating of how they felt. Not only can we see if people are happy, satisfied or unhappy with our support and product, we can also see how many times we managed to deliver a little bit of wow. ? Here’s what our stats looked like last month:

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (15)

Some inspiring examples

As an author, consultant and speaker on the topic, it’s safe to say Peter Shankman knows a thing or two about customer service. But even he was blown away after he sent this joking tweet to his favorite steakhouse.

(Video) Complete Guide To Onboarding New Social Media Clients

The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service (16)

To Shankman’s utter disbelief, a Morton’s staffer drove 23 miles to the airport to greet him with a full meal.

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Shankman admits that the “stunt” was meant to be out of the ordinary – and that’s OK. Customer service, he says, isn’t about telling people how awesome you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.

Want more great examples – including one that garnered press like this?

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Check out 10 Customer Service Stories That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity to get inspired.

Bottom line

Most companies view social media as a marketing medium, but customers expect more – and they’re willing to reward brands that go the extra mile.

Using social media as a customer service channel allows you an additional way to wow customers that can be worth its weight in gold.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like:

  • Social Media Customer Service: 15 Support Pros Share Their Best Advice For Getting Started
  • The 3 Psychological Triggers that Matter to Happy Customers
  • Turning your Marketing Upside Down: Why You Should Put More Focus on Existing Customers

Photocredit: teamstickergiant

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How do you answer a customer using social media examples? ›

Keep things light and positive when you respond to customers on social media. Unless it's obvious that they're joking around with you, avoid sarcasm or humor — at least until the problem is solved. But don't be afraid to show your personality when you engage with customers on social media, either.

How can social media be used for customer service? ›

What is social media customer service? Social media customer service is offering support through social channels, like Facebook and Twitter. It lets businesses meet customers where they are and quickly answer questions. Over 60% of customers think solving an issue fast is the most important part of good support.

What are the benefits of having a good customer service on social media? ›

The Benefits of Using Social Media for Customer Service
  • Direct Engagement. Social media lets you engage your customers directly. ...
  • Public Problem Resolution. Airing problems in public may seem counter-intuitive. ...
  • Positive Word of Mouth. ...
  • Social Listening Opportunities. ...
  • Final Thoughts.
1 May 2016

What is the best way to leverage social media for customer service? ›

5 tips to leverage social media for outstanding customer service
  • Focus on the right channels. ...
  • Respond quickly. ...
  • Monitor conversations and be proactive. ...
  • Tailor your tone. ...
  • Know when to take the matter offline. ...
  • Over to you.
18 Jan 2021

How do you answer a customer question? ›

How to reply to a customer request: 7 tips
  1. Ensure that you have all information you need to respond. ...
  2. Avoid unnecessary complexity. ...
  3. Use the language of the customer. ...
  4. Ask questions in a polite and professional manner. ...
  5. Follow the three S's when asking a question. ...
  6. Use formatting for important information. ...
  7. Always proofread.

How do you respond to social media positively? ›

Steps for Responding to POSITIVE Comments
  1. Thank the consumer for a positive review. Be specific and genuine. ...
  2. Use the business name and keywords in the response. ...
  3. Add a little marketing to the review response. ...
  4. Invite the consumer to do something with your response.

Why is social media a key part of customer service? ›

Social media and the culture of customer service

Implementing a social media strategy in your customer service model will give you a chance to communicate with consumers at a level that ensures they feel part of your story, and encourages them to recommend your brand to others.

How can social media help build a relationship with customers? ›

Always respond quickly to customers

You can use social media to build customer relationships by quickly responding to questions and concerns via Facebook posts or tweets. When people are upset or have an urgent need, they want a response right away.

How social media technology changed customer service nowadays? ›

8 ways Social Media has changed Customer Service
  • Customer Interaction has Gone Public Now. ...
  • Customers Choose their Medium of Communication. ...
  • Customers have Plenty of Options Today. ...
  • Customer can Make or Break a Brand's Reputation Easily. ...
  • Companies can Deal with Multiple Customers at Once.
26 May 2015

Does social media improve communication? ›

Social media is revolutionizing communication because it brings a new level of efficiency to influencing social change. Social media campaigns led by individuals, nonprofits, NGOs, government, or businesses can illuminate social issues, environmental concerns, and positive philanthropic deeds.

Why is social media important? ›

It is a valuable communication tool with others locally and worldwide, as well as to share, create, and spread information. Social media can influence consumer's purchase decisions through reviews, marketing tactics and advertising.

What is an example of good customer service? ›

In retail, examples good customer service include remembering and appreciating repeat customers, forging a local connection with shoppers, putting your product knowledge to good use, and more.

Why is customer service important? ›

They are responsible for representing your brand when interacting with potential buyers. Customer service can break a company's chance to turn a potential customer into a loyal customer. After a positive customer service experience, 89% of consumers report they are more likely to return and make another purchase.

How do you solve customer service problems examples? ›

7 Steps to Fixing Customer Service Issues
  • Listen to the customer and show genuine empathy. ...
  • Assess the situation. ...
  • Ask for the customer's needs and preferences. ...
  • Offer a solution and give options whenever possible. ...
  • Deliver the solution. ...
  • Follow up with the customer. ...
  • Address the issue within the company.

Which strategy is considered the best in improving customer experience? ›

7 ways to improve the customer experience
  • Create a clear customer experience vision. ...
  • Understand who your customers are. ...
  • Create an emotional connection with your customers. ...
  • Capture customer feedback in real time. ...
  • Use a quality framework for development of your team. ...
  • Act upon regular employee feedback.
16 Aug 2022

What is a good quote about social media? ›

Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.” “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” “Social Media puts the “public” into PR and the “market” into marketing. ”

How do you handle social media comments? ›

How to Deal with Negative Comments on Social Media
  1. Respond to the comment as soon as possible.
  2. Be apologetic.
  3. Discuss the problem privately.
  4. Appreciate their feedback.
  5. Ask them how you can help, and help.
  6. Don't delete their comments.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Don't delete their comments.
13 May 2022

How do you respond to negative online Behaviour? ›

What to do when you receive a negative review?
  1. Pay attention. Monitor your online presence and know what people are saying about you.
  2. Keep an open mind. ...
  3. Take a step back. ...
  4. Have someone else look at it. ...
  5. Respond appropriately – always! ...
  6. Avoid the trolls. ...
  7. Be timely. ...
  8. Learn from it.

What is the impact of social media on service delivery? ›

In the first objective of the study, the findings show that social media has increased the number of informed customers, increased information flow about competitors, and led to an improvement in the quality of services though not at the highest levels.

How do you build connection with customers? ›

Here are 10 effective ways to connect with your customers and build lasting relationships that can keep them loyal to your brand.
  1. Don't use a one-size-fits-all approach. ...
  2. Respond to concerns. ...
  3. Go above and beyond. ...
  4. Follow up. ...
  5. Keep it personal, not transactional. ...
  6. Focus on face-to-face interactions.

Why is it important to build relationship with customers? ›

Building a working relationship with customers is key to the long-term success of a business. Having a strong connection based on trust and communication helps customers feel more secure and connected with a brand, and it can also lead to growing customer retention and your repeat purchase rate.

How do you respond to customers online? ›

How to Respond to Customer Complaints Online:
  1. DO: Respond Quickly and Apologize. ...
  2. DON'T: Argue. ...
  3. DO: Have Outlined Responses Ready. ...
  4. DON'T: Post the Same Response to Every Complaint. ...
  5. DO: Ask Customers to Address Issues Privately Before Posting Online. ...
  6. DON'T: Ask a Customer to Remove Their Review.
14 Feb 2019

How do you respond to an unhappy customer on social media? ›

Try introducing yourself and issuing an apology as early as possible: “Hi, this is Steve, I'm sorry to hear about your problem, and I'd like to help.” This personal approach can help to diffuse some of the anger your customer is feeling, and let them know that someone is listening to their concerns.

How do you respond to a customer on Instagram? ›

Be genuine and respond in a conversational manner, and reply with appreciation. If they comment with emojis, reply with emojis. Give useful support and reply to your customer about what they need to know. Provide the support or information your customer needs through direct messages.

How do you respond to a customer on Facebook? ›

How to Respond to Customers on Social Media | Facebook Business ...

How will you handle a situation where a wrong order is delivered? ›

Methods To Make It Up To Your Customer
  1. Apologize. If you mess up your client's order, do not plan the apology for another more convenient moment. ...
  2. Explain. ...
  3. Transparency. ...
  4. Take Responsibility. ...
  5. Empathise With Your Customer. ...
  6. Reassure Your Customer That It Will Not Happen Again.
15 Sept 2017

How do you respond to an angry customer online? ›

14 Ways to Handle Angry Dissatisfied Customers Online
  1. Learn to Empathize. “Understand why your client or customer is upset before providing any solutions. ...
  2. Avoid the Blame Game. ...
  3. Switch the Medium. ...
  4. Don't Engage Online. ...
  5. A Second First Impression. ...
  6. From Angry to Advocate. ...
  7. Kill Them With Kindness. ...
  8. Honesty Travels Far.
5 Jul 2012

How do you respond to a loyal customer? ›

Offer thank you (again)

Most importantly, you are grateful for customers, for their loyalty, and for their willingness to advocate for your business. Example 1: “You're the best, Martha. Thank you again for sharing such a positive experience.

How will you respond to customers who are asking for a room rates? ›

Here's how you should respond: First, don't apologize for your prices. Acknowledge their opinion and that you realize it's a big investment. Explain, in detail, the value they get for their dollars.

What are the positive effects of Instagram? ›

The positive effects of Instagram include self-expression, self-identity, community building, and emotional support.

How do you handle fast on Facebook? ›

  1. How to Get Facebook Followers. Run Facebook Ads. Invite People to Like Your Page. Create Viral Content. Host a Giveaway. Post Attention Grabbing Content. Add a Facebook Likes Pop-Up. Try Out Facebook Live. Partner with an Influencer. Get Tagged by Other Facebook Pages. Use Automation Tools to Boost Your Activity. ...
  2. Conclusion.
26 Apr 2022


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