Four Simple Steps To Get Proactive With Social Support

In 2019, customer support is no longer about simply monitoring and responding to messages from your customers through channels you choose. Even if those channels are Twitter, Facebook, and live chat, it’s no longer enough.

More and more people are turning to social media to complain and ask for solutions, outside of direct messages to the actual companies.

And ignoring them is not an option: A recent study by Sprout Social showed that 35% of customers will not stop being one if you don’t respond to their complaints. The same study also showed that 81% think social media helps uncover the truth about how companies treat their customers. 

Translation; they judge you based on your social interactions with other customers.

To make matters worse, another study by Eptica showed that only 34.5% of messages got a successful answerWhich means that most companies are dropping the ball, giving you the opportunity to shine with proactive customer support on social media.

 Use Social Media Monitoring to Stay Up to Speed

In 2018 almost 50% of consumers said they had complained about a brand or company on social media.

And not everyone tags or direct messages a company when they have something to say. A lot of the time these undirected complaints fly under the radar of companies. And the results can be devastating.

As we already covered, many people consider boycotting a brand after an ignored complaint. But how do you stay on top of all these social messages? If you go to Twitter and do a search for any famous product over the last week, you will find plenty of tweets that complain without tagging the company.

I searched for MacBook Pro, and in less than a minute, I was able to find multiple examples of complaints and support issues.

macbook problem

One person couldn’t figure out how to type a # on his MacBook.

Another customer was outraged at the price of going from legacy firewire to USB-C.

For most companies, these complaints are left unanswered. That is not the way to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Every company needs to respond to these complaints publicly, to maintain good customer relationships and keep their reputation as a customer-friendly company. But not all social media has a handy advanced search function like Twitter. And trying to sort out the positive from the negative and prioritize posts manually is a lot of work.

So what is the answer?

Social Media Monitoring (also known as Social Listening) means using software that constantly checks what your customers are saying about you online in real-time. They typically check all popular platforms and let you browse relevant messages in a single dashboard. (No need to hire staff to constantly search & browse social.)

Even if you’re not tagged, or they only mention your product name, the posts get indexed and categorized. This makes it a lot easier to support those who aren’t directly asking for it. It also helps you control how people view you on social media.

Social listening is just one of the features of our Social Media Helpdesk. You can choose keywords, like product or brand names, and they will be listed in an easy-to-review dashboard. It even generates tickets for relevant social media posts to make sure they get handled.

You can also set up negative keywords to give posts extra priority for fast handling. If this is news to you, you can read more about how to get the most out of social listening

Getting listening right will help you do customer service on social as well as Zappos and reap the rewards: More loyal customers who are more likely to promote your business and products. But there is a challenge; consumers are more and more time-conscious about their customer service requests especially on social media.

 2. Speed Up Response Times To Earn Customer Loyalty

With social media customer support, every minute counts. Customers expect quicker and quicker responses. Most people want a response in 6 hours on Facebook and within just 60 minutes on Twitter

But if you want the real rewards, you need to be even faster. The faster you answer the more dollars you earn in brand loyalty. According to official Twitter research, if you respond within the first 5 minutes, customers might pay up to $19 more for your products over a competitor’sBut, if you take more than 20-60 minutes to respond, the loyalty boost is smaller.

For airlines, the $19 average drops down to just above $2. Making a very fast response more than 9 times as valuable as a quite fast one. The gap differs from industry to industry, but the data is unanimous: Faster is better. Just look at how grateful this customer is after a quick answer for Slack’s support staff:

But not every company has the resources to hire multiple staff members to only deal with social media support. So how can you lower your response times without adding more staff, hours and expenses?

The answer is simple: help your existing customer service agents to see relevant social media posts in their normal dashboards. This is known as “multichannel support” and is one of the core features of Freshdesk. We integrate every potential channel so your agents can get more done, faster. Because everything is in the same dashboard, there is no switching and no one needs to constantly monitor social media.

It’s important to be fast, but keep in mind that a wrong, negative or bad response is worse than no response at all. Up to 50% of consumers said they will boycott a brand after a negative interaction, vs the 35% who would after none at all.

So you need to answer quickly, but it needs to be an appropriate answer. Canned answers or automated queries aren’t always appropriate. This makes it even more important that one of your experienced customer service reps is notified and given responsibility.

Experiencing bugs or other troubles with a product can be stressful, which means your staff needs to tread carefully. But it also offers a unique opportunity to brand yourself in a customer’s mind, for life.

3. Empower Your Staff to Create Powerful Moments and a Better Customer Experience

Strong emotions improve memory, make it more vivid and last longer. So when a customer has a problem with your product, especially if it’s a pressing and stressful issue, they will remember how you treat them at that moment for a long time.

If you save the day, they will remember it as a positive experience, and it will shape how they view your company. Which is probably why Twitter found that responses to negative tweets had an ROI 3 times higher than responses to positive ones

A great example is how Zappos jumps into a conversation about New Balance and how a customer feels Zappos’ algorithm is recommending “grandpa shoes”.


By responding quickly in a human manner, and using humor, they turned the situation from a negative into a positive. An automated message or a bot would not have been able to create a positive experience here.

Imagine how Suzanne would have felt if a bot popped in and said: “New Balance shoes are now 21% off on Zappos: link”. It could have turned into a very memorable bad experience that would have changed how she views the company. They may have even lost her as a customer for life. By using automation to power their human talent, they create moments like this for customers every day. They turn bad moments into good ones and win customer loyalty.

It’s Not All Bad – Respond to the Positives & the Negatives

But don’t underestimate the power of engaging with positive posts. Just as with negative posts, there can be opportunities to create powerful moments.

Toyota went viral when a nurse used their Tundra truck to escape and help evacuate people from a wildfire. They decided to offer to replace the car, that was burnt to a crisp, free of charge.


By choosing to replace the customer’s car, Toyota was able to get even more press coverage. (And bought vast amounts of attention way more cheaply than ads could ever do.) They also nailed an opportunity for branding themselves as a “customer first” company. Increasing the loyalty of not just the customer in question, but every other customer who was aware of the news story. Not only did the original story vouch for the durability of the car better than any Toyota statement ever could, but the hero of a tough story got a somewhat happy ending.

If someone is sharing a positive experience with your products, don’t be afraid to jump in. But don’t use a bot or a canned response for everything. As you risk alienating customers who faced stressful situations. (Just imagine a “Thanks for driving Toyota!” response to the story above.) And whenever possible, make it a powerful moment that is memorable for the customer and everyone who sees it in social media.

A few suggestions to achieve this:

  • Have a separate workflow for handling very strongly negative posts, and specific staff members trained to interact with those customers.
  • Give your customer support reps specific roles that fit them. Someone with a talent for humor would be better at defusing mild negative complaints and win customers back than someone who likes to play by the rules.
  • Let your customer support reps be human. Social media is a place where you win little by playing it safe. In fact, canned responses and excessive rule-following are likely to backfire.
  • Empower your customer support reps to fix problems and make a difference. (By giving them a channel to consistently reach someone that can make big calls like replacing or comping items, or simply giving them a budget to do so.)

But even if you master all these things, you’re still only reacting to customer feedback. To get the absolute most out of social media customer care, you have to learn how to be proactive. How to create a social presence that encourages your customers to join you in your mission to create the hands-down best product in your category.

4. Be Proactive: Fix Common Issues And Engage Typically Silent Users On Social Media

For every customer that complains, there are many more that don’t. Even if they have issues, most of them tend to stay silent. According to a seminal study by TARP, only 3% of people will complain about smaller issues. 

That means 97%, by far the majority, choose to suffer in silence. Another study done in the UK showed that in general, only 27% of customers tend to complain or point out issues. This includes bigger purchases and issues and shows how reluctant customers can be to reach out.

But don’t think that just because they don’t complain, they’re happy and will keep buying. According to the same TARP study, most silent unhappy customers (91%) end up switching brands. They say nothing, and then they leave. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’re proactive on social media, you can get typically silent customers to offer criticism & raise issues. You can win their enduring loyalty by taking responsibility and publicly fixing their problems.

The cream of the crop of this approach is without a doubt Elon Musk and Tesla. In August 2017, he personally responded with a promise to fix an issue just 30 minutes after it had been tweeted.

elon musk

And he famously implemented a workaround to the parking issue with super-chargers in the U.S. after, you guessed it, someone complained on Twitter. Both times he got tons of customer praise as well as a lot of press coverage.

You might not have as passionate customers as Tesla, but you can still use the same approach. Use the data of common complaints, inquiries, and social media questions to choose issues to fix. Engage the people asking for the solutions and tag them when you have fixed the problem.

Here Slack reaches out to someone who months ago requested a fix/improvement after it had finally been implemented. This shows everyone that you fixed a known issue that other silent customers are likely bothered by, and you’re effectively branding yourself as a company that goes the extra mile. It also becomes an indirect way of asking for more productive feedback. This feedback can show even more insight into your customers’ problems. It also gives you a roadmap to a better product.

Give customer service a say in developing new features, and what problems to solve first. And have an open channel of communication between CS and development teams. (If the issues are about how to use your product, you can update your knowledge-base in the same way.) They’ve likely got a bunch of good ideas already. In his book, Hacking Growth, Sean Ellis, the original growth hacker, credits customer support reps for suggesting many product changes that had big impacts on company growth. Your customer feedback and customer service reps are idea goldmines for improving your products. Make sure that you use them for everything they’re worth, and tell the stories on social.


When unhappy customers complain about your company without directing it at you, or say nothing at all, it’s not enough to just wait for and answer messages.

To make customer service a competitive advantage in 2019, to earn loyalty and extra revenue, you have to be proactive. 

You have to reach the customers who don’t get served by traditional customer service, fix their problems, and give them a better customer experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *