How to Use Social Media for Customer Service

“Customer service” used to be something that only happened between you and your customers. But now, with social media, the whole world can see how you respond to customer feedback – making your reactions a form of marketing.

I’ve spoken about this topic at multiple workshops, because it gets at the heart of such an important concept…

Everything Is Marketing

At least, everything done by a business or its employees is marketing. Why? Because marketing is communication – and when it’s done well, it communicates something positive about your business. From error messages to interior signage, any form of communication is an opportunity to put your business in a great light and win even more customers.

So when someone contacts you on social media, how can you use it to show off your awesome customer service… which is communication, which is marketing? Let’s look at several sample scenarios.

When They Love You

Let’s start with something easy – responding to positive feedback. Here’s a great example of how AAA responded to a note from a fan on Twitter.

Example screenshot of good customer service on Twitter

What can we learn from AAA’s reaction? It was:

1. Prompt: They responded the same day.

2. Polite: Well, this is easy when the customer is happy… but continue to keep this lesson in mind later on.

3. Personal: They referenced something specific from the customer’s message, so she could tell that it wasn’t a generic, copy-pasted response.

When They Do NOT Love You

Here’s how a storage company reacted when a customer expressed their opinion without much information to back it up:

Good customer service on Facebook with angry customer

If you’re afraid of such comments showing up on your social media pages, don’t be! It’s a chance for you to show the disgruntled customer how prompt, polite, personal (and patient!) you are. More importantly, your response sends a message to potential new customers about who you are and how you’ll treat them.

For very unhappy customers, take the conversation out of the public realm, as in the example above. That way you’ll save face no matter what the final result is. If private messages aren’t an option, you can always provide an email address where they can reach you.

However, when it’s possible to address the issue or provide solutions right on social media itself, it benefits your company’s reputation to do so.

Funny customer service by Time Warner on Facebook

Notice how, in this example, the company was able to control the conversation by focusing on what they could help with (the remote) instead of what they couldn’t.

And now for something completely different…

What do you do when you get a message that’s not positive, not negative, just a head-scratcher – like this question for Samsung that they couldn’t say yes to?

Dragon doodle sent to Samsung on Facebook

When you can’t actually offer the customer a solution or meet their needs, you can always respond with creativity and humor, as a smart customer service representative at Samsung did:

Samsung's response to funny request on Facebook

You never know what the results may be. In this case, the company’s response was shared on Reddit, and was so popular that it went viral. Now that’s good publicity!

But Samsung didn’t stop there. Recognizing the value of the attention they’d received when the customer shared their post, they decided to return the favor with a reward – a custom phone. Win-win!

Free phone from Samsung for customer who drew a dragon

But wait – there’s more!

These examples show how when you use social media as a tool for customer service, it gives you a chance to turn customer experiences (both positive and negative) into marketing opportunities.

But there’s another benefit. People are going to talk about you online no matter what – so by encouraging that conversation to happen on your social media pages (your home turf), you’ll ensure that your own perspective is always included.

You’re simply participating in the conversation that the Internet is already having about your brand – and that is a form of marketing.

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