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Social Media Customer Service: Best Practices and Tips

According to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer service survey, 61% of respondents say they will switch companies after a poor customer service experience.



Social Media Customer Service: Best Practices and Tips

No matter your industry, niche, or business size, efficient customer service should be at the center of your business practices. Even if you have an amazing product or service, if you are not devoted to improving the customer service experience of your customers, you’ll most likely lose them. 

In fact, according to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer service survey, 61% of respondents say they will switch companies after a poor customer service experience. The same survey also showed that 95% of respondents cited customer service as a key factor when deciding their choice of and loyalty to a brand. 

These stats show that customer service should be more than just responding to customer inquiries. When done correctly, customer service will be a key part of your customer acquisition and retention strategy. 

The best part is that there are several customer service channels businesses have at their disposal. From phone, email, live chat, self-service, and video chat, to mobile messaging. But in this article, we will concentrate on social media channels. We will look at the best practices and tips for running efficient social media customer service.

Let’s get started.

What is social media customer service?

Social media customer service is the process of offering support to your customers via social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. 

But to be effective at social media customer service, brands need to proactively respond to their customer’s queries. It's not enough to just answer a few customer questions here and there. Your customers expect a response when they mention your brand or send a direct message. In fact, 42% of customers expect brands to respond in less than 60 minutes after making a complaint on social media. 

Social media customer service best practices and tips

Great products will attract customers to your business, but solid customer service is the most effective way to keep those customers loyal to your business. 

The following tips will help you build a robust social media customer service strategy.

Monitor your comments and mentions of your brand across all channels

The best way to ensure that you don't miss any opportunity to offer customers support is to monitor all interactions your brand has with your audience on social media. But this can be difficult especially if your brand has a strong presence on several social media channels. 

An easy way you can do this is by using a social media monitoring tool like Iconosquare. Iconosquare allows you to monitor all mentions of your brand, even when your audience doesn't tag you. You will also be able to visualize all of your social media comments in one dashboard. This makes moderation easy as you can easily reply to or delete comments and wouldn't have to worry about missing relevant comments. 

Social media listening and brand monitoring are very essential to customer care. How?

First, it allows you to discover frequently asked questions by your customers. Tracking these questions will allow you to create canned responses so you can quickly address them. Doing this will increase the productivity of your customer rep team and save time too. 

Listening also allows you to deduce customer sentiment towards your brand. But why is customer sentiment important? 

Studies show that unhappy customers are more likely to tell 16 people about their negative experiences when compared to the 9 people that happy customers tell. Customers are also likely to spend 140% more after a positive experience with your brand. 

So by monitoring your customer sentiments and brand mentions, you will have a good understanding of your customers' issues, their emotions when dealing with your business, and how you can best support them. 

Respond to customer queries quickly

Most companies treat social media customer service on a channel-by-channel basis. The problem with this is that customers do not know which channels you prioritize. This means that when they have a problem, they will reach out to you on whatever channel they find the most convenient at that moment. So they might send you a DM on Instagram today and leave a comment on your Twitter post the next day.

Brands that want to offer their customers a positive experience should respond quickly regardless of the platform. You need to offer customers a consistent and unified solid customer experience on all social media channels. 

A tool you can use to do this is Iconosquare's Conversations. The tool allows you to manage all of your social media conversations in one dashboard. Your comments, mentions, and direct messages are updated every 5 minutes on the Conversations dashboard. You will get updates for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Respond to customers the right way

When replying to customers on social media, especially publicly, you are not just talking to the customer that asked the question. You are talking to all your current and future customers. So it's essential that you display great customer service. 

By responding to that customer and helping them solve their problems, you are sending a message to any potential customer that sees your response that you care and will be there to help them when something goes wrong.

You shouldn't also be afraid to give extra context or information to your customers. Customers will appreciate you going overboard to help them. This is a sure way to build customer loyalty for your brand. And as much as possible, always reply publicly to comments. Even if the answer isn't relevant to other customers, it allows you to display transparency which can help grow trust for your business among customers. 

But if any personal information will be needed to solve the issue, continue the conversation privately via direct message. It's best practice to comment that you are doing so. 

Here is an example of what to comment: “Thanks for your comment, Sara! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having issues making the payments. I’ve just sent you a direct message so we can sort this out for you. Cheers, Lou”..

Dealing with negative customer feedback

Great customer feedback is amazing and will serve as social proof to potential customers. But the reality is that not all feedback will be positive. It is almost impossible not to have negative feedback and reviews on social media.

Rather than getting defensive of your products or service, you will use the negative feedback as an opportunity to display your dedication to support and improve the customer experience. Here are some simple steps you can take to effectively deal with negative feedback. 

  • Respond quickly and publicly:  Taking too long to respond to negative feedback can cause potential customers to lose confidence in your business. It also demonstrates that you do not prioritize your customers. Instead, a simple message recognizing what the customer is going through is better than not saying anything at all.
  • Do not make excuses, just take responsibility:  Your customers do not care if the problem they faced originated from your distributors. Your goal should be to win back the trust of the customer and that will start by taking responsibility for the issue. 
  • Apologize: Always say sorry even if you are not at fault. You are apologizing for the bad experience that the customer had. It shows that you care and that goes a long way.
  • Work out a solution with the customer: First, always acknowledge the negative feedback publicly and show that you are taking action to resolve it. If you don’t do that, it will look like you ignored the situation. Also, the feedback may be something that other customers want to be addressed. So, responding to the feedback can help answer questions other customers might have. 

When done right, negative feedback allows you to turn a bad customer experience into a good one. It also shows potential customers your willingness to take responsibility and your ability to solve issues. 

Have a brand customer service voice

The tone of voice of your customer service reps should reflect your brand and be consistent on social media. You can think of your customer service reps as a representation of the voice of your company. If you had a conversation with your brand, what would it sound like? Will it be serious and formal or fun and warm?

You should craft a brand voice that communicates what your company stands for. 

If you have multiple customer service reps on your team, create and document your voice strategy so that everyone knows how to represent your brand. 

Automate with chatbots

Chatbots can serve as effective social media customer support tools. In fact, there are more than 300,000 business chatbots deployed on Facebook Messenger alone. And this is no surprise as chatbots help businesses assist customers 24/7. The automated programs will interact with customers as a human would so customers don’t feel neglected. 

Also, in this era of digital customer service, a chatbot will help you reduce costs and save time. Using chatbots can reduce a business’s operational costs by up to 30%. And when the chatbot is automated to deal with frequently asked questions and simple issues, a chatbot will fully handle customer interactions 69% of the time.

The best part is that chatbots are not just for providing social media customer service. They can also be used to automate social media marketing. For example, chatbots can be used to capture leads, promote new products, and even raise brand awareness. 

Here are some tips to help you enjoy the benefits of chatbots:

  • Concentrate on the human experience: Although chatbots help you automate the customer service process, they cannot completely replace human representatives. It is essential that the social media chatbot can escalate the issue when a human rep is needed. 
  • Choose the right chatbot: You can use a rule-based or an AI-powered chatbot. Rule-based chatbots respond to user queries using scripted responses. It’s good for basic conversations but it also limits what questions the user can ask. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots can interact with customers in a conversational manner. In fact, some advanced AI chatbots can learn from previous conversations with customers so they can better handle similar situations in the future. 
  • Proactively engage customers: With a chatbot, you can reach out to customers first and initiate conversations. For example, the chatbot can be set to automatically greet customers with a welcome message when they follow you. This sets the tone for your relationship with the customer and lets them know you are available if they need any assistance. 
  • Use multilingual support: To increase your brand’s accessibility, choose a chatbot that provides real-time language translation and automatic language detection. This will allow you to be able to engage customers regardless of what language they speak.

Create a dedicated social media support account 

If you are receiving a lot of complaints and customer queries on specific social media channels, it will make sense to create a dedicated customer support account. 

This is a good way to separate your customer service efforts from your everyday social media marketing efforts on your main account. So, you can direct customers to the support social media account for quick help. And to help humanize the support account, reps should sign off their messages with their name or initials. This also makes it easy for team members to follow up on conversations.  

Analyze your social media customer service efforts

Identifying and analyzing the right social media support metrics will help you understand the performance of your customer service efforts. It will also help you find out which areas you can improve on so you can offer customers a better experience. 

Here are some support metrics you should track and analyze: 

Customer demand per hour: This metric allows you to determine which day, month, or week your brand sees the most surge in customer queries. For example, ecommerce brands usually see an increase in demand for customer support during the festive seasons. 

Resolved cases per agent: This customer support metric tracks the number of successfully resolved cases by your support representatives. With this, you can identify your top performers and the reps that will need more training. 

Average response time (ART): This is the average amount of time that elapses between when a customer contacts your business with a query and a customer representative replying to them. It is calculated by dividing the total time it takes your reps to respond within a particular time frame by the total number of responses for that specific period.

Average first response time (AFRT): This metric tracks the duration between when customers first make their query and the initial response from your service reps during a selected period. What should your average first response be? According to a customer experience trends report from Zendesk, customers expect a response within two hours or less on social media. 

Average handle time (AHT): It measures the average time a customer rep spends handling a specific customer issue. It is measured by dividing the sum of total talk time, total hold time, and after-call work time by total number of calls. Agents with a low average handle time are usually the best performers as they are more efficient and get more work done. 

Unresolved cases or tickets: A high number of unresolved cases means that you have a huge backlog of unhappy customers. This could be because you don't have enough people on your support team or they are not trained well enough to handle customer queries. 

Customer satisfaction (CSAT):  This metric measures how satisfied customers are with your products and services. You can estimate this by sending out surveys to customers after they interact with your customer support team. Here is an example from Amazon:

Net promoter score: This is the percentage of customers who are satisfied with your product or service enough to refer it to their peers. Offering solid customer service is an effective way to boost your net promoter score. 

Based on their response, customers can be divided into three categories: promoters, passives, and detractors. 

Your loyal customers or promoters will rate you between 9 and 10. Passives are customers that are happy with your service but feel like there is room for improvement. Detractors are the customers who are not happy with your brand and might even go as far as discouraging their peers from doing business with you.

To calculate your NPS score, subtract the percentage of your promoters from the percentage of your detractors. 

Examples of excellent social media customer service 

We’ve seen some tips and best practices for executing efficient customer support on social media. Let's look at some brands that have gotten it right.


In this example, the customer was musing about how they would love a drink from Starbucks. Startbucks saw this and responded, letting the customer know that they were still open. 

The customer was appreciative of getting a response and even left a tweet thanking Starbucks. 

The takeaway: From this example, there are two takeaways. First, always monitor your mentions. As we’ve established earlier in the article, sometimes your customer will not tag you. Using a social media monitoring tool like Iconosquare will allow you to keep track of the conversations your customers are having about your brand on social media. 

Second, brands need to practice proactive customer support. In the example above, the customer wasn’t necessarily complaining, but Starbucks still reached out to ensure that the customer had a good experience. Being proactive is an effective way to build and maintain relationships with customers. 

Southwest Airlines

A flyer took to Twitter to vent his frustration after going on a 3+ hour flight that had no wifi. Southwest Airlines saw this tweet and responded immediately.

The takeaway: Southwest Airlines used the right tone when responding to the customer. They recognized that they were in the wrong and their reply was personal, honest, and informative. And not only did they reply well, they also responded quickly. Here is the follow-up response from the appreciative customer. 


Chewy is an example of a brand that takes customer service to the next level. They just don’t use their customer service channels to answer customer questions but also use it to spread delight. For example, their customer support teams have been known to send birthday treat packages and personalized paintings to customers. 

The takeaway:  Social media customer service offers brands a real chance to connect with customers. Brands need to show that they have their customers’ best interests at heart by showing genuine compassion. Chewy even takes it further by sending flowers and cards to customers who lose their pets. 

This customer care strategy has worked very well for Chewy and as result, they have a strong loyal customer base. Their customers even sing their praises on social media. 

Wrapping up 

It's no doubt that customer support and care are key to the success of any business. In this article, we have seen the best practices that brands should follow to deliver effective social media customer service. Customer reps need to be knowledgeable, timely, and friendly. 

Your customer care representatives should also be able to understand the customer’s emotional state and respond adequately. For instance, if a customer is unhappy about a service, the rep should respond in a formal tone and express empathy. Here is an example from JetBlue:

A customer tweeted about the discomfort he went through during a flight on a JetBlue plane.

JetBlue saw the tweet and immediately replied and empathized with him. 

“Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear! Are all the TVs out on the plane or is it just yours?”

After his response, they immediately offered him some credit for his trouble. 

“We always hate it when that happens. Send us a DM with your confirmation code to get you a credit for the non-working TV.”

Of course, he was very happy with the quick response and even tweeted about it. 

This example shows exactly how brands can empathize with customers. Showing compassion goes a long way in making customers happy with your brand even when you are in the wrong.

With that, we’ve come to the end of this article. 

Customer service is not something that businesses should handle with a lukewarm attitude. If your business should be known for two things, it should be that you have a great product and offer even more excellent customer service. 

The tips and tools mentioned in this article will help you provide your customers with the best support possible. 

the writer


Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hi! I'm Marvellous, huge fan of Iconosquare as a product, and determined to help experienced social media marketers thrive in the various aspects of their career.


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