Written by Ian Landsman in

8 Tips for Delightful Social Media Customer Service

Consider the social media channels your business is active on.

Why did you start those accounts? Was it to market your product? Talk to potential customers? Interact with current customers? Or just because everyone else was jumping on-board and you felt you had to be there, armed with cat memes like all the cool brands?

When Facebook was in its toddler years and Twitter was in its infancy, social media platforms like these were a new frontier. They connected family members and friends, college classmates and long-lost friends last seen in 3rd grade.

Quickly, these and other social media platforms (think Instagram, Pinterest and more) also began to connect businesses and buyers. Social media customer service and marketing exploded. In came the wave of clever, real-time marketing moments.

Brands began to delight customers with clever, quirky, short-form messages. But that conversation wasn’t just one-way. Customers began to ask questions - and expect answers. Quickly.

Being engaged with customers on social media is no longer just a selling point, a “look how good we are” bullet point on your sales sheet. In many cases, it’s a requirement. Sure, Apple gets away with not having a Twitter account, but… If you’re a business that deals with customers on a regular basis who may be actively speaking to you or about you online, you want to be where they are.

So, how do you do it well? We have 8 tips to help you ensure you’re providing delightful customer service on your social media accounts.

1. Be responsive. We’ve long known that many customers expect responses within an hour (42% of them, according to a survey by The Social Habit), and most expect to hear back within a day. How quick are you to respond?

Sometimes, you need a few minutes or hours to provide an accurate, comprehensive answer. If your full response to the subject matter at hand is going to take time to develop, make sure you tell them their question has been noticed and you will get back to them soon with answers.

2. Pay attention. Customers aren’t going to tag your brand every time they they’re talking about you. They’re going to forget the @ in front of your username. They’re going to misspell your name. They’ll reference your product but not your brand. There’s a variety of ways customers are talking about you online. Are you catching all of these opportunities to interact?

3. Thank brand advocates. Yes, respond to complaints before they catch fire and go viral. Of course. But positive feedback and ideas deserve responses, too. You’ve delighted your customer. They’ve told you, or they’ve told their entire network of followers. Acknowledge that. Thank them for that.

Customers are not always going to go out of their way to advocate on your behalf if they receive no credit for it. They’re not going to give you “It’d be even better if…” ideas when they feel you don’t listen.

4. Refer back to old conversations. When a software update is made that fixes an issue a customer raised on Twitter, go back and tell them so. When a product version 2.0 has been released because a customer thought “this would be so cool if it had a…”, show them how their input has been implemented.

5. Detect follower trends. Certainly, different businesses work with different scales of customers. Interacting with 10 people on Instagram is different than 10,000. As best as your resources will allow, pay attention to who you are engaging with on a regular basis.

Are there customers (or potential customers) repeatedly chatting with you? Asking questions? Providing feedback? Have you taken their name from social and matched it to your customer database, to find out what they’ve purchased, how often, and what their use case for your product or service may be?

Social media conversations are a treasure trove of customer information and insight. Use it to your advantage. In many cases, your engaged customers will be your best customers, offering you repeat business, cross-sell opportunities, and even intangible ideas and feedback that will fuel future iterations of your business. With that in mind, incentivize your customers to frequently interact with you! Whether it’s branded swag, discounts, special access to premium features or otherwise, consider what you can offer your customers to encourage them to keep in touch with you.

6. Catalog key conversations and topics. Many social media conversations are one question, one answer, one “thanks,” and one “you’re welcome!” Done.

But others call out interesting points about how your business does what it does. Some identify those brand advocates and loyal customers you should be paying attention to in the future. Some provide insight into what these customers prefer about your competitors’ services.

Some conversations teach you something valuable for you and your customers later on. If you’ve just troubleshooted a problem with a customer, save that example to reference later, so that your ability to troubleshoot the situation is more efficient the next time you’re faced with a similar situation.

Organizing your conversations like this can make sure your time is spent efficiently, and can help you recognize individuals you’ve spoken to before - reducing any chance of that awkward “It’s nice to meet you” -> “We’ve met before” situation we all dodge at cocktail parties.

This information is also critical for all customer-facing individuals in your organization to have access to. If the person communicating with customers via social media is different than the one answering emails, providing a common repository of key customer interactions will help you speak in a united voice to your customers.

7. Follow-up, out of public view. Getting a negative review online, whether it be Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp or another industry-relevant review source, can feel quite devastating in the moment. It’s an emergency you need to handle, not simply because you have one single unhappy client, but because it’s in public view of countless other potential clients.

So you handle it, quickly and effectively, proving you listen to customers and you act on negative feedback.

It’s easy for public responses to negativity or snark to seem plastic and disingenuous. It’s critical that you avoid platitudes or sentiments that seem generic.

But wait, there’s more to do.

Don’t ever leave the customer wondering if you only helped them because they complained publicly and you have to save face.

Identify that customer and follow-up with them out of public view, whether via private message, email or otherwise. Follow-up that day, and follow-up in the weeks and months ahead. How are they doing? What is their experience with the product or service since? Is there anything else you can do to help them?

Taking these follow-up actions reiterates the point that you actually care about their feedback and their personal experience. Actions like these are what turn complaining customers into loyal ones.

8. Move where your customers move. Customer habits and expectations change. The popular place to be today may not be so popular tomorrow, next month, or next quarter. You need to be where your customers are. If they move, you must move, too, whether that means transitioning focus off of one platform to another, or adding one to your mix.

By following these tips, you can ensure your clever social media posts aren’t the only things delighting customers online. Your intelligent, responsive and helpful support that’s reachable in online places where your customers are spending considerable time, will truly make your customers’ day. They’re expecting you to fold social media conversations into the complete picture of your customer-business relationship.

Every interaction matters.

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About the author

Ian Landsman of UserScape

Ian is the founder of HelpSpot and also podcasts at Bootstrapped.fm.

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