Customer Engagement, Digital Marketing, Social Engagement, Social Media Marketing

Digital Marketing and the Social Customer Service Experience

Social Customer ServiceThe Rise of Social Customer Service: Marketing and Customer Experience in Social Media are One in the Same.

Power of the People Social Media has quickly become the stage where customers have the opportunity to share their thoughts about your company with the world, good or bad.  The very power of social media lies in it’s ability to amplify a single message so broadly and so quickly.  According to a recent Pew Internet Project study, 72% of online adults use social networking sites.  Social media has shifted the marketing power from companies to consumers. 

Consumers use social media to listen and learn.
  They listen to their peers and trust more what they have to say over company messages.  Consumers use social media to research and inform.  They scour social sites for reviews and recommendations in an effort to make informed purchase decisions.  Consumers use social media to share their thoughts broadly.  They flock to social sites to share their opinions and thoughts on everything and anything.  The power shift is evident.  Consumers are taking matters into their own hands and ensuring that their voice is heard.  A recent example of this was a Sponsored tweet by Hasan Syed who paid to share his frustrations with British Airways and it’s over 305,000 followers on Twitter.

Twitter British Airways

Never before has there existed an opportunity for the everyday consumer to be heard so loudly.  And never before has there existed an opportunity for companies to respond in such a public way.  Customer service has typically been a one-to-one engagement.  It’s now a public forum.  Companies who have a solid strategy in place for social customer service are setting the new norm.  It’s no longer an option of whether you should engage in social media customer service or not.  What matters most is how effectively you do it… and that can be one of the most powerful marketing tools in your digital marketing arsenal.

Social Customer Service:  Why It Matters   The difference between good social customer service and no social customer service can have a major impact on businesses today.  According to NM Incite, customers will spend, on average, 21% more if they receive good customer service via social media.  Also of note, 71% of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others… compared to just 19% of customers that don’t get a response.  The primary reasons why people use social media for customer service include getting a response from the company, praising a good experience, sharing an experience with others and complaining about a poor customer service experience.

Consumer Reasons for Social Customer Service

All of these are pretty powerful indicators that social customer service should be a top priority for every company.  Yet, a study by Social Bakers indicates that in Q2 2013, 62% of companies were responding to questions posed on social media.  And while that number has grown significantly, up 143% year over year, the fact that nearly 40% of companies don’t respond to customer questions via social media is an alarming statistic.

Social Customer Service Done Right  When done right, a company’s social customer service strategy can be more powerful than any advertisement, content strategy or other marketing tool.  So where should a company start?  Devising a strategy, complete with your social customer service tone and personality, target response time, crisis communications plan and resolution outline will set you on the right path.  Without a plan, a social customer service initiative can go awry very quickly.  Learn from those who are doing it right and from those who have made mistakes along the way.  A few companies who understand the importance of social customer care include: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KLM is committed to a high level of customer service across all of their social sites, and can be evidenced by their quick response time (typically under 1 hour) to comments on their facebook page.  They are compassionate, understanding, apologetic and thankful… and they explain how they are trying to make the situation right for the customer.

Social Customer Service - KLM

T-Mobile T-Mobile has a dedicated twitter handle, @TMobileHelp, to assist customers with issues shared via Twitter.  They do a good job of social listening and respond to customers who don’t necessarily tweet to @tmobilehelp.  The T-Force team provides a personal touch with the ^Signature when responding via Twitter.

Social Customer Service - TMobileHelp

Kohl’s Kohl’s is another brand who takes social media customer care seriously.  They are quick to respond to customers with a personal note and a recommended solution. Kohls Social Customer Service

Social Customer Service: The Experience Will Make or Break You
Above all, your customer service should be authentic.  Canned responses won’t get you very far and consumers have seen enough to know when a response is real and when it isn’t.  Be human, own your mistakes, put yourself in your customers shoes, be helpful, be quick to respond, don’t be defensive, and be thankful.  Don’t try to hide customer service issues by deleting negative comments and complaints.  Rather, take advantage of the opportunity to resolve the issue, show the consumer and the captive audience that you care.  The social media customer service experience you give your audience can be one of the most profound marketing tools you have.  Use it wisely.

Does your company have a stand out social customer service strategy?  Do you see social customer service as a marketing opportunity? 


Darcy Schuller is the Chief Digital Marketing and Brand Strategist at Suvonni, an innovative boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago. As a leader in the digital marketing space, Darcy is passionate about helping clients build stronger brands through elevated customer engagement, social media marketing, content marketing and dynamic web experiences. Darcy is a respected marketing thought leader, speaker and consultant.