Need to know: Social Customer Service


At We Are Social, we’ve been working hard to provide the best social customer service for a wide range of clients, across multiple local and global markets. This year, our Expedia team was awarded Qualiweb’s ‘Excellence for Best Social Media Customer Service in the French market. Here, Giulia Braun, senior account manager on Expedia, talks about why great customer service on social is essential for brands.


Over the years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people contacting brands directly through their social channels – whether they’re requesting support, expressing a complaint or even giving positive feedback. It’s not surprising that many people prefer to send a tweet rather than spend hours on the phone. Social channels have become the go-to place for getting a brand response.

Customer service is often considered the less glamorous side of social media, neglected by marketers who think it’s either expensive or a service that will not benefit the brand through any concrete acknowledgment. But a lack of response to customer queries on a brands’ social channel looks impersonal and solely focused on one-way marketing messages. These are social channels after all. If we don’t respond to customers when they need us, why would they bother engaging with our content, no matter how brilliantly creative it is?

Customers expect to be able to make themselves heard, especially if something hasn’t gone their way, therefore, brands should take this as an opportunity to hear them out and actively try and rectify the situation. This not only ensures damage limitation but it can even turn potential #epicfail situations into positive sentiment. If poor customer experience has a viral effect, so does brilliant customer service, as Virgin demonstrated with this timely intervention:

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So what defines first class social customer service? There are four key elements to consider when managing your customer responses on social:

Tweeting a brand with a query feels much closer to texting than emailing, therefore people expect a very quick response. At We Are Social, we have worked with our community managers to put an effective escalation process is in place, ensuring all issues are handled in the most time-effective way and the most delicate responses get a speedy client sign off.

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Showing the human side of the brand makes people feel looked after, whereas pre-packaged template responses often end up infuriating them. Any brand’s tone of voice can be adapted to ensure that customers feel they’re having a conversation with a human as opposed to a robot and are responding specifically to their query. Of course, you need not necessarily go as far as O2 did in this instance:

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Having community managers who are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject area is also key to giving customers genuinely useful support (i.e. travel experts on Expedia and football enthusiasts on adidas, series lovers on Netflix UK).

It’s not always possible to solve a problem straightaway, so it’s often a case to manage expectations and let customers know the team is on it and give them a clear deadline their issue will be solved by.  It’s also good practice to include working hours on your channels’ bios so that people know that you’re not ignoring their 3am complaint.

Nailing customer service can grow your business and strengthen the relationship with your audience. Great customer service doesn’t always give you fame and glory, but provides true value to your customers, and a reason to build preference on future purchases. Plus, as Expedia has just discovered, it can actually win you awards.