How to Be Effective at Customer Support on Social Media

Sowmya Sivashanmugam
Aug 19, 2013 11:16 IST
New Update
How to Be Effective at Customer Support on Social Media

While having a good marketing strategy on Social Media is important, you should not ignore it as an effective channel for customer support.

I had discussed in detail about the importance of social media customer support in my previous column and I would suggest that you give it a read before moving ahead.

Once you have realized why you need a dedicated customer support strategy for social media, you must find a way to execute it. You must know how to go about being effective with your customer service on social media.

In today’s column, I will be taking you through all the aspects that can make your social media customer support strategy a success.

  • Monitor complaints constantly

Customer Service begins the moment a customer shares a complaint or a query about your product/service. On social media, tracking these complaints is essential. Direct complaints are usually posted on your brand’s Facebook wall or in the comments and could also be a tweet mentioning your Twitter handle. However, there are complaints which need to be searched for. Your handle won’t be mentioned every time.

As a customer centric brand, you should always be on the lookout for such complaints. Using an effective tool is what I would strongly suggest.

The below screenshot is a classic example for a brand missing out on a person’s complaint just because of poor monitoring.

Customer complaint tweet

If only Tata Docomo had kept its ears open and had been actively monitoring complaints, it would not have missed out on this tweet.

  • Swift response is what counts

As soon as you come across a complaint, you have to be quick with your first response. One of the most important metric of measuring customer service success on social media is the average response time a brand takes to respond to queries and complaints.

Not responding in a timely manner will put you across as a deaf brand, which will lead to a disgruntled customer. So your first step is to assure them that their complaint has been heard.

In a recent report by Unmetric, Tata Nano topped in the automobile sector when it came to responding to customer queries on Facebook. It responded to people within a minute while luxury brands like BMW and Audi took more than half an hour to even acknowledge the receipt of complaint.

  • Effective workflow: Flow of information within a team should be effective

Customer Support department in an organization should be closely integrated with other departments for smooth flow of information. A speedy response requires a well planned out workflow protocol.

For instance a user asked Jet Airways a question related to the operations department, probably while on the flight. Within 3 hours, the airlines replied. However, if there was a more efficient flow of information, a faster response time could have been ensured.

jet airways tweet

  • Resolve the issues ASAP

Taking your own sweet time to resolve a customer’s complaint can land you in a situation where the complaint has already become the talk of the town. Social media being viral in nature, drives instant conversations that can adversely affect your brand value. The faster you resolve the issue, the sooner the negative conversations will die down.

  • Be patient – People on social media can be rude

It is a known fact that people love using the social medium to complain. And there may be few instances where these complaints often have rude undertones. But as a brand, you must be patient in resolving the issue. Losing your calm on a public platform can injure your online reputation.

  • Must have protocols

Opening up social media for customer support will lead to whole lot of planning and protocols. Unlike traditional customer support, addressing of queries on social media is public. Guidelines need to be set, content needs to be approved and a certain code of conduct has to be in place before taking on customer service.

This is one of the most important aspect of your brand and you do not want to get this wrong. The type of responses that will go through the brand account should be planned meticulously. Haphazard responses can lead to a permanent damage to your brand image.

  • Train the customer support/marketing team

The customer support and marketing team must be well trained in order to avoid mistakes. What is once published on social media cannot be undone. People read tweets, posts and updates at an express speed and make sure they respond to it too. In this situation if the team is not well trained to take the conversations ahead, it could result in negative publicity.

I would suggest that you take your customer service team through a workshop where you make them understand the responsibility of handling social media queries. Handling queries on social media is a lot different from tele support.

  • Be Pro-active In Disseminating Information

Social media is a great platform to broadcast information that your customers can find useful. And you must equip yourself with tools that help you schedule, broadcast and analyze your customer centric updates.

Having a planned outage in the coming week? Schedule an update in advance to inform your users about it beforehand. Your goal should be to minimize the reliance of people on your support team by estimating their needs before it crops up.

  • Use technology to support delivery

If you want to handle complaints on social media in the most efficient manner, use technology. Social media is always brimming with conversations and you can’t handle it manually. You will need a good tool that helps your mine mentions and respond to them in the fastest way possible.

The technology should also equip you with an effective workflow solution so that assigning tasks and monitoring them is easier for you. Brands in service sectors face a barrage of complaints every day and to deal with them in the most effective manner, you must back yourself with a reliable tool.

Technology to support delivary

  • Integrate social media customer support with offline customer support

Your social media customer support should be integrated with offline customer support as they are better equipped to handle a complaint. While the social media team can constantly monitor and track complaints or queries online, the responses can be suggested by the offline team.

Since the offline customer support is already trained in dealing with such complaints, the scope for double effort is reduced.

  • Build a profile of the customer

If you want to help a customer, you must have all the information about him/her handy with you. You need to understand that person’s personality and communicate in a way that will win his/her confidence. Apart from their phone number and email ID, you must have their social media profiles with you as well.

Moreover, having a list of their previous conversations with your brand will also give you a good perspective on how to approach their current complaint.

  • Track and close complaints

Once your receive a complaint, you must follow it closely till the time it is resolved. They must not be left unanswered. On a public platform there are other brands that can take advantage of a complaint or other users who can suggest better products or services. If you fail to close complaints, your customer support will be incomplete.

In the following example, the user tweeted using the Twitter handles of both Sony and Dell. However, Sony replied and tried to close the complaint before Dell could take advantage of it.

Ashok Lalla sony india tweet

  • Assess team's performance regularly

The customer service team of a brand is its voice on social media. But is the team doing enough to make sure that people are happy and loyal to it? Are the team members addressing customer issues on time? Are they able to resolve the complaints quickly?

The supervisor of the team must keep a check on the activities of all the team members in order to improve their efficiency and reduce the turnaround time. The supervisor must assess the team’s performance to make sure that there are no disgruntled customers at the end of the day.

Overall performance


While content creates customer loyalty and increases engagement, customer service on the other hand builds trust and satisfaction in a customer. However, most brands overlook this aspect. It should instead be regarded as one of the most important ways of communication with your customer. The customer wants to talk with you, so your job is to listen to him patiently and resolve his issues.

Hope this gives you a clearer picture about how you can be good with your social media customer support. If you have any questions or opinions to share, you can mention them in the comments below.

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