Social Media Customer Service Playbook

Social media — the jungle where no one has any idea what happens.

I honestly love the internet (I was born in 96’ so that’s not a surprise), with all the emojis, GIFs, memes, conversations and simply the way we interact on social media. It grew from a small community to a place where people and businesses connect to each other. Well… not all the time. Brands are trying to jump into conversations where they shouldn’t and end up like Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock.

social media customer service
Customer service today!

Luckily, it changed the way customers communicate with businesses at any level. Social media allows customers to speak up whenever they have a great experience with a brand or when a brand messes up, becauseTips for stellar social media customer service well… it happens ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Now, customers can easily talk about their experience by

– writing a review on Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor
– posting a picture on Instagram and tagging the brand
– sharing the product in Stories (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat)
– asking a question on Twitter.

The Good or The Bad?

You’ll probably agree with me — customers tend to speak more about their bad experiences with the company than the good ones. In 2013, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for support, compared with 33% for social marketing, according to J.D.Power. That’s exactly what we’ll focus on here. We’ll look for the answer on how to design a better customer support team on social media and how to talk with our customers.

We’ll talk about the good, the bad and okay-ish sides of doing support on social media:

– Importance of customer service on social media

– How to provide customer service on social media

– What to look for in your social support agent

– How to listen and monitor your brand on social media

– Tips for stellar social media customer service

Importance of Customer Service on Social Media

I believe that you need happy customers who engage with your product or service, share their feedback and ideas, and spread the word about it to build a successful company. All of this can be accomplished with just a little interaction with your company’s customer care on social media.

Secondly, differentiating your company from your peers or achieving the product-market fit in a crowded niche market is difficult. But customers will put you on the map and be your brand ambassadors all because you gave them a great support experience when they reached out. The service you provided  was fast, easy, and accessible.

It’s also essential to your business because it
– brings you new customers
– improves retention
– attracts customers advocates
– helps to create content
– get reviews
– delivers a competitive advantage.

You can make people talk about you on social media, just by being nice, on time, effective and helpful. #socialmedia #customerservice

Let’s take a look at this example:

customer service
customer service on social media platform

After Amtrak’s reply was sent – it started a backlash on the internet, with comments such as “Is this master trolling or the worst customer service/media team in history?“ by @hayektriangle. In fact, Amtrak did respond before, just 16 minutes after the original tweet, but they didn’t notice that someone retweeted this and replied again – 7 months later. It was an honest mistake that anyone could have made, they didn’t look at the time / date of the tweet when replying to it The damage was done and Twitter was highly amused, at least they got great engagement on their tweet.

Speed is very important in social customer service, mistakes like these will cost. #customerservice #socialsupport Click To Tweet

Paying attention to details such as how long ago the complaint was made and whether or not the problem was solved can go a long way. If the team looks at the big picture (date of the post in this case), they would just skip this and move on.

How to Provide Customer Service on Social Media


It’s not just about having a 100% response rate, it’s also about speed. According to this study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes. Ask me and I’d say that replying within 15 minutes would be great.

Positive Attitude

What matters most is the positive attitude and the way your social support team communicates — use emojis, GIFs and a sense of humor. It’s encouraging to be witty and be playful on social media unless your brand is super serious and won’t accept that or if you can’t pull a joke off. Of course, always be mindful of your customer’s feelings and issues before attempting a humorous reply.


Empathy is the key. It’s not something extraordinary. Anyone can learn a set of skills to be an excellent customer support representative.

Empathy towards the issues your customers is vital, even on social media#customerservice #socialsupport Click To Tweet

It’s not only about the product, but also the company that speaks to you. People will remember the way they were addressed and helped on social media by their beloved brands. Let’s take a look at these extraordinary examples from Zappos. Shannon shares the love for the whole customer service team. Awww ❤️

customer service
customer reviews on social media platform

I’ve just scrolled a few posts later and found another comment of a customer that loves the brand and wanted to share this on social media. That’s exactly the kind of brand advocates we are looking for. Customer service team quickly jumps into the conversation.

customer service on social media

Whenever there is an issue, Zappos quickly jumps into the thread and assists their customers right away by asking all the important questions. As you see they quickly took the conversation offline when it was time to find out more in order to help.

customer service on social media platform

What to Look for in Your Social Support Agent

I’d say they just need to be great people, nerds, geeks, scientists, youngsters, hipsters, millennials, anyone able to communicate well on social and willing to learn how to be amazing at it. When speaking about traits and qualities, we’re ideally looking for someone that

– displays the ability to handle stressful situations
– takes responsibility for their words and actions
– collaborates with their teammates and is open to feedback
– understands customer needs better than anyone and is empathetic
– strives to be helpful and kind
– asks good questions and is confident about what they do
– has product knowledge
– curious about learning more
– constantly looks for new insights.

Here’s an example of a team of social media managers who are speaking exactly the way their main character does and it’s hilarious. That’s the team you’re looking for, the ones that can go the extra mile, beyond the ‘thank you for your message’. I hope they never stop posting for BoJack’s Account.

helpdesk customer service on social media

And sometimes, having a social media customer care team with a sense of humor can get you viral.

helpdesk customer service on social media
hilarious customer interactions

You need to have a deep understanding of your customers and the way they speak whenever they have an issue—you need to be part of the same world. The following example illustrates this perfectly—look at how For Honor (video game) speaks to their users.

helpdesk customer service on social media

It’s a priority for your team to be helpful and deliver results or you’ll end up with angry customers. For example, Nick Paterniti from Perth, Australia ran afoul of the bots Monday after writing a post on the Facebook page of online fashion retailer ASOS inquiring about a refund.

“Your customer service team via email is not helping although I’ve repeatedly provided the details they’ve asked for. Please sort this out ASAP,” he wrote.

Where he felt that ASOS team on Facebook is run by robots, and seems like things never changed. Sad, huh?

social media customer service

How to Listen and Monitor Your Brand on Social Media?

Social listening is a process of collecting data and conversation from social platforms, websites, and forums around a specific topic, keyword, phrases, brands or industries and using these insights to discover new opportunities for your own business operations, product, and marketing materials. In the past, brands have been doing this with surveys. Now they’re using specialized tools for social listening, such as…


– Brandwatch

– Awario

– TweetReach

– Buzzsumo

– SocialInsider

– Mention

– Google Alerts

– Streamview for Instagram

It’s not enough if you watch out for page mentions, there are also customers that could be talking about you without even tagging the page or accounts you own. You still have to pay close attention to all of these. It seems like Virgin Mobile is doing a great job at this. Do you see that they haven’t been tagged earlier?

social media customer service
Good customer service example

One more thing — it’s very tempting to pay special attention and care to social influencers, but it’s a slippery slope. If you respond to an influencer in 1 minute and to regular customers in hours or days, you’re sending the wrong message.

Keep your social customer service democratic. #social #customersupporttips Click To Tweet

Key Metrics for Social Media Customer Service

Okay, we talk, we have conversations, we engage, we track and we solve problems. Now, let’s understand together what we should be looking to track in social media monitoring tools and what the most important metrics are.


Look for the number of mentions about your brand on social media and create a powerful segmentation based on the ones that need to be quickly acted upon, sentiment, language, location or any filters that will help you improve your brand reputation.


Watch out for topics relevant to your company. For example, if you’re an airline company you need to look for keywords such as pilot, delayed, terminal, airport, baggage, check-in, tickets, boarding, airplane. This way, you’ll make sure that messages containing these keywords will be right in front of you.

Be Everywhere

You need to watch for your brand all around social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Blogs, Forums, News and all the other relevant mentions such as TripAdvisor and Google Reviews. If your customer is saying something, you need to make sure you’re paying attention to it.

User Comment Activity

Are your fans engaging with you during their lunch break or on their morning subway commute? See when people comment on your pages, gather insights to help you when scheduling content.

Tips for Great Social Media Customer Service  

As we already know, it’s important to respond to all the issues a customer has. However, it’s even more important to respond as soon as possible to all of them. A study of tweets to airlines by Wayne Huang ET shows that when a tweet is answered in five minutes or less, the customer will pay almost $20 more for a ticket on that airline in the future. Speed and efficiency lets a customer know that he can count on you to solve their issues. Reliability grows and brand reputation skyrockets.

customer service graph
Responding quickly to customer complaint helps

Talk to them

I think that brands are not talking enough about the bad experiences they have when it comes to customer support, but we need to be louder about that. All of us have messed up at least once — it may have been a mistake, issue, bug, cancellation, wrong information, or pricing. That’s why you need to look for honest people, they should be able to recognize this, talk to you about it, learn the lesson, and move on. That’s why it’s important to always reply to angry or controversial customers.

Well, handling angry users is a daily task for any social media representative, right? Sometimes you can’t repair the damage that was done — flight canceled, car broken, the wrong size of the shoes — that’s that, you can’t fully fix it.

Your customers want to hear empathy and understanding. It’s not only about the results. Never ignore them, approach them kindly and try to help in any way you can. Pro tip: Twitter also allows you to add an embed code that helps your user send you a private message.

customer support on social media

Be Personal

When a customer service operator signs their name in the posts, customers immediately see and understand there’s a real human behind the conversation and it makes them feel that the company is really trying to help them. They’ll also feel more open.

Remember the Zappos replies earlier?

When agents sign their name in their tweets or posts, it humanizes them and helps customers feel that the company, or at least someone within the company, is on their side. Customers are also likely to feel more comfortable following up on an issue later if they have the name of the employee who helped them. Also, try to be friendly all the time.

customer support on social media
Establish healthy customer relationship

I loved one more example of Groupon’s efficient and helpful team.

social media customer service

Respond to Customers, Even If They’re Upset

The connection between good customer service and brand loyalty may seem intuitive. What’s more surprising is that seeking to engage an angry or confrontational customer can also have a positive effect on brands.

You can feel the effects of poor response time for your customers on social media almost instantly for your brand. It makes them talk about it with their family, friends, the rest of the world on multiple channels, and buy less from the respective company, says FreshSparks.

bad customer support statistics
Consequences of a bad customer service

Use Emojis

I love emojis. They are there to add life to a conversation, make the post look better, and give it context. Many brands don’t want to use them because they’re afraid it looks unprofessional. It might be a stretch, but I can probably say that emojis may be appropriate for any brand, if you know how to use them.

It helps you humanize the content and brand. It’ll help you stand out in the crowd and show that you belong in social media. Just a bit of effort in your social media posts will show that you actually care about your presence and the community. Emojis will help you achieve that.

customer support on social media

One more example of great conversations on social media, between Netflix and BoJack Horseman speaking about the next season.

customer support on social media

GIFs help

Now, as we discussed emojis, it’s relevant to mention GIFs as well. It’s important to use them when communicating with the customers, because they make the experience so much more human, right? Just please, don’t go desperate, use them wisely to describe how you’re feeling. Don’t go crazy and try to be too funny if your brand isn’t. We have expectations that GIFs will illustrate an emotion – so try to respect those lines.

customer support on social media
keep the humour alive with your customers

Be Funny, When You Can

Skyscanner is a company that knows how important it is to have great people on their social media team. Now, here’s the proof – Jen is a social media manager at Skyscanner for UK and Ireland. She became popular after Skyscanner user James Lloyd noticed the site suggested he took a 413,786-hour, 25-minute layover on an already exhausting-looking trip from New Zealand to London.“Just wondering what you’d recommend I do during the 47-year layover your website has suggested?”. Lloyd posted on Skyscanner’s Facebook page. Here’s what Skyscanner replied.

customer support on social media

Make Sure It’s Close to Your Brand

We all know Wendy’s fast food chain. Behind this innocent sweet little girl is a team of Twitter professionals. Over the past few years, they started to serve up hilarious tweets, roasting their competitors and getting back to their customers in the craziest ways.

Don’t mess with Wendy’s, if you can’t fight back. Sometimes, their customers try too damn hard to reply.

customer support on social media

As a brand on social media, you need to reply to all the queries you receive, no matter what, and most importantly in upto 15 minutes. Failing to do so won’t only frustrate your customers, but you won’t be offered the status of fast responder by Facebook, which could potentially cost you leads and customers.

There are a lot of brands out there that are just rocking social media support. However, the big picture shows that they’re a small percentage. Most brands are drowning in volume and complaints. Most brands just add the huge workload of existing support representatives. Support is crucial to a business nowadays. Social support? It can make or break a brand.