Customer Service on Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Back in my day (HA! I sound like my parents), when you needed help with a product or service, you could either call the customer service line or go into the store for assistance. As someone who has an aversion to talking on the phone, I was thrilled when companies started offering service chats on their websites.

Nowadays, it is easier than ever to get in contact with a company as most are active on social media. While it is vital to have a customer service channel on business social media accounts, it is also vital to understand how to respond to customers.

The Good

    1. Spotify

    Spotify came up several times when I was researching companies that really have the hang of handling customer service on social media. They even won a Webby Award in 2016 for Social Best Customer Service! The use of a separate customer service Twitter account definitely contributes to their success.

    Customers that want to reach out to Spotify Customer Service are directed to @SpotifyCares on Twitter. They give some instruction in their bio of what information to include when sending an inquiry and whether it should be a Direct Message or not.

    The above examples show that the customer service team not only responds to issues, but also positive feedback. It is important to reply to both positive and negative feedback to let your customers know you are listening.

    I’m not going to lie, it took me awhile to find examples that did not involve issues with Spotify’s Wrapped – I would NOT want to be a SpotifyCares rep right now. I will say they definitely take the below to heart.

    “No matter how they come at us, we always try to respond in a really positive active manner. I would say that 99% of the time, when you come at a customer with a positive active attitude, they’re going to end up leaving happy. Even if you can’t solve their problem, as long as you show that you are actively trying to help them, they take that as a good sign.”

    Chug Abramowitz, Spotify’s former Vice President of Global Customer Service and Social Media

    The Bad

    British Airways

    This is a pretty old example, but it does show the importance of responding in a timely fashion.

    In 2013, an upset customer paid to promote a Tweet after British Airways lost his father’s suitcase. The Tweet was posted at 7:57PM and British Airways didn’t respond until the next day – the Tweet was seen by 76,000 people in that span.

    It is not always realistic to have someone monitoring a social media account 24/7, but companies should be using social monitoring software so a crisis can be averted if at all possible, especially companies that deal with a worldwide market. Companies may see Tweets like this a lot, and each one cannot be considered a crisis, but the fact that this was a promoted Tweet should have raised some alarm.

    According to a study done by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, 28% of crises spread internationally within one hour, and yet it takes companies an average of 21 hours to respond. The same study states that 1 year later, 53% of companies had not regained their pre-crisis share levels. This statistic shows the importance of having a crisis response plan.

    The Ugly

    I know I have seen several examples of ugly social media replies from companies, but I am not finding many when I need them. I guess it is a good thing for those companies that when I search “Examples of bad customer service on social media,” not too many specific examples come up.

    In my experience, the companies that tend to respond poorly, or unprofessionally, tend to be small businesses that probably do not have a full social media team. The owners may be the ones fielding the customer service/feedback posts on social media and owners tend to have the most emotional stock in the company. It isn’t always easy to respond to negative comments about something you worked so hard to build, but it is especially important for small businesses to have a good brand image.

    I did just remember a recent example I saw on TikTok. A woman ordered a shirt online and did not receive her order within the quoted 7-10 business days. She tried reaching out to the business and received no response. She ended up posting on the business’ various social media accounts with no reply. It took the customer posting a video on TikTok for the business to take notice. The video went viral and other “potential” customers started posting all over as well. This type of attention is not good for any business, let alone a small business.

    Conclusion

    When it comes to customer service on social media, the businesses that have the most success respond timely and in a professional manner. Customers appreciate having social media as a channel to resolve their service issues, but if they have a bad experience with a business’ customer service, it won’t take long for a lot of people to know about it.

    Do you have any social media customer service success or horror stories? If yes, drop them in the comments below!

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    2 thoughts on “Customer Service on Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

    1. I completely agree with you on the British Airways Situation! I thought it was weird that the passenger decided to post to social media instead of calling the airline.

      Like

    2. Respond timely and professionally. I agree that is what you see out of the most successful businesses. Coincidence, hmm, I think not! Great examples included in your post.

      Like

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