The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Social Media as a Tool for Customer Service


Social Media Week

“The versatility of social media is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that small businesses and organizations without access to tons of resources have the ability to reach customers in a cost-effective way. It’s bad in the sense that businesses confuse convenience with ease and end up making costly mistakes.”

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Social media is perhaps the most versatile tool any given business has at its disposal. It can be used for branding and marketing purposes, advertising, and, last but certainly not least, customer service. However, it should be noted that there are right and wrong ways to leverage social media in the latter capacity.

The Right Way to Use Social Media

The beauty of social media is that it bridges the gap between brands and consumers. While any information a brand has given the consumer in the past has been filtered through carefully crafted and predetermined PR, marketing, and advertising efforts, social media allows companies to humanize their approach and directly reach out to consumers in tangible ways.

Here are three specific ways you should be using social:

  • Use it as a listening tool. Brands often assume that social media was designed for them, when it was actually established with individual users in mind. If you’re trying to use it as a mouthpiece for your brand, you’re missing the point. The best way to generate value is by listening to what people are saying about your brand.
  • Directly respond to complaints. Customers crave attention in 2016. “From a marketing perspective, it’s also important to understand that we’re in the age of the consumer,” says Lisa Giosi of Active Web Group. “Social media is especially effective for customer service in this respect because it allows a company to speak with a customer 1-on-1.”
  • Answer FAQs. People will approach your brand on social media and ask lots of questions. Don’t shy away from this. Address these questions so that others will feel more comfortable with your brand.

As you can see, social media is at its best when it’s utilized as a powerful customer service tool. It’s about being transparent and open with customers so that you – not the marketplace – control your own story.

The Wrong Way to Use Social Media

But don’t assume that leveraging social media is a breeze. There are plenty of ways you can mess up if you aren’t careful. Here are three wrong ways to use social media as a customer service tool:

  • Responding with anger. Despite what people say, the customer isn’t always right. However, this doesn’t give you the right to respond in anger. Regardless of the situation, the customer will come away looking like the victim.
  • Saying the wrong things. If you’re ever unsure of what to say to customer, don’t say anything at all. Hold back and consult with your team. It’s better to give a delayed response that’s accurate than a timely response that’s untruthful.
  • Ignoring the spotlight. Remember that social media is a visible platform. Anything you post can be viewed by millions of people. Failing to remember this could end up coming back to bite you. If a conversation needs to be taken offline, encourage the customer to contact you via another medium.

Always use caution and judgment when interacting with customers via social media. As a rule of thumb, never post something that can be viewed publicly without first having at least two sets of eyes review it. A single error or momentary lapse in judgment can harm your brand’s image for years to come.

Make Social Media Your Closest Ally

The versatility of social media is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that small businesses and organizations without access to tons of resources have the ability to reach customers in a cost-effective way. It’s bad in the sense that businesses confuse convenience with ease and end up making costly mistakes.

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Larry Alton

Writer, Freelancer

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.



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