Social media customer service is the practice of using social tools to resolve customer questions or concerns.
Social customer support is highly effective because it allows customers to reach your team on the platforms they already use.
That’s right: if you really want to offer best-in-class support to your audience, you’ve got to offer more than a P.O. box or telephone line. The standard in 2023 is that brands offer omnichannel, 24/7 support. Meet your people where they’re already spending their time.
That might mean responding to Tweets, fielding Facebook Messenger comments, addressing Instagram comments, or practicing social listening. Social media customer service can be a lot, for sure, but done right, it’s a powerful way to make sure your clientele feels heard and cared for.
Read on for tips on tools for offering social media customer service, social media customer service stats, and, well, everything you need to know to have good customer service on social media.
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Why should you incorporate social media customer service solutions into your business plan? It’s simple: People want brands to offer social media customer support.
- People and businesses exchange 20 billion messages (!) a month on Facebook Messenger alone
- Social media messaging grew 110% over the pandemic as the preferred method of customer service communication
- 49% of organizations make social customer service the responsibility of the marketing team
- 40% of consumers expect brands to problem-solve in the channels of their choice (e.g., Instagram Messenger)
- 53% of respondents in a Facebook IQ survey reported that they’re more likely to buy from a company that offers customer service via chat (such as WhatsApp)
- Messaging channels reduce the cost of customer interaction by 60%
- Live Chat is the preferred digital communication tool for 43% of customers
- 50% of consumers say that a timely response to their customer-service questions influences their decision to make a purchase
- Consumers spend 20-40% more with companies that are responsive to questions and complaints on social media
- 40% of consumers expect a response within an hour when they reach out to a brand on social media; 79% expect to hear within 24 hours
- 80% of customers wish that companies responded more quickly to customer service problems
- 47% of consumers have increased their usage of digital communication tools this past year
- 59% of consumers are willing to pay a premium in order to receive ‘outstanding’ customer service
- 40% of consumers say having multiple options for communicating is the most important customer service feature for a business
- 77% of people agree that good customer service is vital to earning their brand loyalty
Are all these numbers making your head spin? Here’s the TLDR of it all: marketers are leaning into social customer service hard in 2023:
Delivering great social media customer service is a layered approach. It can be defined as a pyramid: one based on a foundation of organization and skills.
You can be as nice as you’d like to an unsatisfied customer on Twitter, but to truly offer best-in-class service on social, you’ve got to get the whole team on board and build a robust customer service strategy where no detail has been left unconsidered.
Your overarching social media customer service strategy should start by defining your platform presence and service windows. What hours will you be available on Twitter versus Facebook? What response times are reasonable for your team and respectful to your audience?
It’s a good idea to align these goals to platform characteristics. For an always-on, quick-and-chatty site like Twitter, a brief-yet-fast response is going to be valued more than on Youtube.
Your team should have time goals for acknowledging social media posts (e.g., “Thanks for your message… our support team will be in touch within 24 hours”) and for resolving basic queries.
Once you’ve locked in your internal time expectations, let your audience know, too. “We’re online 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST to help!” or “We respond to all customer service requests within 20 minutes” lets consumers know what to expect and alleviates frustration before it can begin.
Your customer service team can likely address client questions faster and in more detail than your social marketing team can. The social media and customer service stats above show a customer service Twitter account is more likely to respond within 15 minutes.
That’s why it can be a good idea for brands to use separate social media accounts to offer social media customer service solutions. For example, Hootsuite uses @Hootsuite_Help, which is run by the support team.
This helps filter out support and service issues from your primary channel. It also ensures you assign the right teams to monitor the right types of incoming public messages.
If you create a dedicated social channel for customer support, include that handle in your brand’s other social profile bios. This lets people know where to reach out for support-related requests.
People will still use your main social marketing handles to contact you with support and service issues. They might simply use the brand handle they already know rather than looking at your main profile to check for a support account.
If a service request comes into your main social channel, pass it along to the right team and respond from your support account.
Of course, many people will also post messages about your business online without tagging any of your social accounts. Some of these posts might warrant a customer service response.
That means you can’t wait to be tagged in social media customer support requests. You need to monitor conversations about your brand. Then you can respond to customers who have a service issue—even if they didn’t reach out to you.
Social customer support has different challenges and opportunities from social marketing. But it’s no less important to have social media guidelines in place.
These should align with your company values and with the social marketing team.
Your brand guidelines for social customer support should cover things such as:
- Tone of voice
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Protocol for escalations or other customer issues
- A message approval procedure and a permission management system
- What to do in a social media crisis
If customers regularly have the same questions, that’s a clue you need to provide some self-service information resources.
Your social media customer service channels are great places to share educational content. For example, you could create a how-to video or best practices blog post.
It’s all about helping customers learn how to get the most from your products.
If you offer an online service, you could also post updates about any known service issues.
How do you assign different shipping rates to different products? Different countries and regions? How do you incentivize customers with free shipping over a certain value? How do you—
It all starts with your shipping profiles.https://t.co/WdYTUc0P0J
— Shopify Support (@ShopifySupport) February 23, 2023
These resources will help reduce the number of support requests that come in. They’re also an easy place to refer people with simple support questions.
Pinned posts and Instagram Stories highlights are great places to provide self-help resources.
Customers don’t expect all companies to offer the same levels of customer service on social media. The world has very different expectations for a mom-and-pop shoe store versus, say, Amazon.
How companies use social media for customer service will vary based on the size of the available team, but whoever you are and whatever you can offer, the most important thing is to set customer expectations appropriately.
Make it clear when your service team is available (Apple, for instance, is available on Twitter from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST), and how long it might take you to respond. If there are other resources they can use to get answers faster, let them know.
This may sound obvious, but it’s a rule not all companies follow.
People asking questions about your brand on social media may or may not be your customers (yet). Answering all questions on social channels shows that you have responsive customer service. This proves to potential customers that you care about your clients’ needs.
Even if someone suddenly posts a question about the comfort of your shoes on a meme of Rhianna, it is customer service’s job to confidently let them know: yeah, they’re comfortable.
A potential customer who reaches out for support and doesn’t get it will likely move on to your competition instead.
Simply responding is not enough. When customers reach out to brands on social, they expect a fast, friendly response.
Your Facebook Page reveals right upfront whether you respond quickly to customer messages. If you respond to 90% of messages and have a response time of 15 minutes or less, you’ll get a Very Responsive to Messages badge.
Your social customer service may not be available 24/7, and that’s okay. You just need to set customer expectations appropriately.
Make your social customer service hours of availability clear. Let customers know when you’re going offline. Provide links to self-help solutions. Direct them on how to reach other customer service channels (like your call center) in the meantime.
On Facebook, use Away Messaging to provide an automated response when your social customer support team is offline. Messages received during your Away times don’t count towards your Very Responsive status.
You can also use Instant Replies on Facebook to send a canned response to all initial messages—Quick Replies are a similar feature available on Twitter, available through select partners. This is especially useful during busier-than-normal times. You can set customer expectations in terms of when you’ll be able to reply personally.
You can find step-by-step instructions on how to set up both Away Messaging and Instant Replies in our Facebook Messenger guide.
Instagram has a similar feature called Saved Replies. You can pre-write answers to common questions so you can reply quickly with just a couple of taps.
Chatbots are a great way to offer basic social customer service 24/7. Always-on capability was the top benefit of AI-powered chatbots in a survey of global banking and insurance customers.
Chatbots can give customers the information they want immediately. That’s an important resource when your team is offline. Bots tend to work best for simple questions that you get often. Learn more about FAQ chatbots here.
Customers may contact you on social with questions or requests that would be better addressed through a private channel. For instance, you might need confidential information like a booking number or account name.
On Facebook, you can respond to a public comment with a private message. This takes the conversation to Facebook Messenger, where you can interact more confidentially. Below the customer’s comment, just click Message to respond privately.
Once you send your message, a note will appear under the comment that says, “Page responded privately.” This shows other users that you addressed the request, even though your response is not visible.
If you respond by DM on Instagram or Twitter, add a comment so the customer knows to check their DMs. Others can then also see you reached out privately to resolve the issue.
Bonus: Get a free, easy-to-use Customer Service Report Template that helps you track and calculate your monthly customer service efforts all in one place.
Your social media customer service is an opportunity to learn and get better… but it’s hard to see progress if you don’t take a step back every once in a while.
Taking a big-picture look at your social customer service—whether weekly, monthly, or annually—is a chance to recognize patterns and see what problems come up again and again. It may also be an opportunity to identify what roadblocks are slowing down your service team… or see who your customer-service superstars are and what they might be able to teach the rest of the crew.
With Hootsuite, your social customer service team can work smarter with the help of reporting and intelligence. Seamlessly collect feedback, set customer service level targets, and distribute CSAT surveys to get immediate insight into what’s working and what isn’t. You can also track efficiency through the time and number of touches it takes to resolve inquiries—by individual, team, or region.
There are going to be some wild emotions flying through your social media customer support queue, but good customer service (on any channel) never stoops to anger or frustration. You are calm, cool, and collected at all times.
While this is obviously an important element of business in any capacity (the customer is always right, etc, etc), online, there is the added risk of a snarky comment or clash getting the ol’ screenshot treatment. Even in private messages, your best and most graceful behavior is essential. If a customer (or troll) is getting under your skin, reach out to your team for backup and guidance.
When in doubt, remember this old chestnut: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Responding to people by name (“Thanks for letting us know your quesadilla wasn’t cheesy enough, Brian!”) and signing off with your name or initials helps humanize an interaction.
Even the spiciest of interactions can be diffused by reminding the other person that there are real people reading their comments on the other side of the internet.
If it’s a fit for your brand voice, humor, emojis, or gifs might even be a fit for social media customer service responses.
Let’s look at how companies use social media for customer service with some real-world examples.
AdobeCare is Adobe’s dedicated customer support account on Twitter. Not only does its profile description point users to the support forum (“Need additional help? community.adobe.com”), but it has a pinned tweet right at the top of the page that points to three different ways to get more help.
Need a hand? We’re here to help! @/📩
-Check out the official Help Center 👉 https://t.co/R0nr73NoV4
-Visit our Community Forums page for more discussions ➡️ https://t.co/f8Ncnj9Hsk
-For our Server Status & more → https://t.co/ILcKyJd79n
— Adobe Care (@AdobeCare) December 9, 2022
The music-streaming app Spotify fills its Twitter feed with how-to guides that address common questions… like how to make collaborative playlists.
These preemptive FAQ posts double as a message board for users to share related problems. In a best-case scenario, someone who’s having trouble with a shared playlist may even find an appropriate solution from someone else who shared a similar issue.
Want to make playlists with your friends? Check out our easy step-by-step guide ⬇️ and learn how to collaborate and listen together. Get to know Spotify better by following the Spotify Tips+Tricks podcast: https://t.co/WeTVzr0BMu pic.twitter.com/kfVkCquUrF
— SpotifyCares (@SpotifyCares) February 23, 2023
Don’t wait for a customer to ask you something directly… a general comment can still be an opportunity to share relevant information.
Online jewelry retailer Mejuri saw that one fan made a wistful comment about sizing on a recent post. Though the customer wasn’t asking for a response, the fact that Mejuri’s customer service team acknowledged the post was a powerful signifier that the brand is listening and cares about its followers.
Any pizza chain worth its salt has to be ready to serve a late-night crowd… so it makes perfect sense that the brand would invest in a chatbot to deal with ornery 11 p.m. pizza questions. Send a Facebook Messenger note, and you’ll receive an instant reply reassuring you that a real person will be in touch soon but that a human is available by phone if you need assistance immediately.
The auto-response also addresses Domino’s most common questions: how to order a pizza and how to send a complaint.
Being able to see all your incoming comments and DMs in one place can be a huge time-saver.
A social media dashboard like Hootsuite allows teams to consolidate all their social inboxes: deal with mean YouTube comments and sweet Instagram questions, and respond to a perplexing Twitter mention on a single site. Across SMS, social media, WhatsApp, live chat, and other apps—get a unified view of your customer service channels and never keep a message waiting.
Here’s how Hootsuite can help you with social media customer service in four key ways.
With Hootsuite Inbox, you can bridge the gap between social media engagement and customer service like never before — and manage all of your social media messages in one place. This includes:
- Private messages and DMs
- Public messages and posts on your profiles
- Dark and organic comments
- Emoji reactions
… and more.
The all-in-one workspace makes it easy to:
- Track the history of any individual’s interactions with your brand on social media (across your accounts and platforms), giving your team the context needed to personalize replies
- Add notes to customers’ profiles (Inbox integrates with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics)
- Handle messages as a team with intuitive message queues, task assignments, statuses, and filters
- Track response times and CSAT metrics
Plus, Inbox comes with handy automation that will save you tons of time:
- Automated message routing
- Auto-responses and saved replies for frequently asked questions
- Automatically triggered customer satisfaction surveys at the
- AI-powered chatbot features
2. Identify conversations that require a service response with Streams
Not all customer complaints or questions (or compliments, if we’re being optimistic!) are necessarily directed right at you. Sometimes, people air their grievances for the world to see without expecting anyone at the company to notice or care. But with social listening, you can set up ongoing searches for keywords and mentions, so you never miss a chance to make things right.
With Hootsuite’s keyword streams, it’s easy to set up multiple search terms across a variety of social media platforms. Maybe you’ll search for your (untagged) business name or nicknames that people have for your company (for instance, McD’s instead of McDonald’s) or common misspellings of your products or brands (La Croy instead of LaCroix). Results will be compiled in one easy-to-read place in your Inbox, where you can respond directly or assign to another team member to handle.
Use the Hootsuite Content Library to store, organize, and share pre-approved social customer care content. This helps improve response times while keeping things accurate and consistent.
Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer support software by Freshworks that helps businesses manage customer queries and issues and integrates with Facebook and Twitter. It offers features like ticketing, collaboration, automation, and self-service, streamlining support processes for both agents and customers. It’s a solid option if your social presence is limited to Facebook and Twitter and/or if social media is not at the front lines of customer support for your business.
Pro tip: Hootsuite supports a Freshdesk integration. With the Freshdesk Hootsuite app, you can manage your social media channels as well as your support tickets from one location.
In the Hootsuite dashboard, you can…
- monitor your ticket feeds
- create, edit, and respond to tickets
- convert social conversations to tickets.
- filter by name and date created
Currently, Freshdesk only works with Facebook and Twitter.
Brick-and-mortar business owners know that having a Google Business Profile is a key part of the modern customer experience. Though it’s not an all-in-one customer support dashboard, it offers multiple ways to connect with customers and address their concerns, including:
- Helping your business appear in local search results, enabling potential customers to access essential info like contact details and hours of operation.
- Providing a space for customers to leave reviews, which in turn allows you to address their concerns, acknowledge their feedback, and improve your services. This also contributes to your brand monitoring efforts.
- Featuring a Q&A section where customers can ask questions and receive answers from you or other customers. Timely responses can boost customer satisfaction.
- Letting customers reach out to you directly through messaging.
- Informing customers of timely updates such as limited-time offers, holiday hours, business news, and more through Google Posts.
Pro tip: Google Business Profile integrates with Hootsuite. Manage and respond to messages from the same dashboard you run your other social media customer service on.
Save time building an efficient customer support system on social media with Hootsuite. Respond to questions and complaints, create tickets from social conversations, and work with chatbots all from one dashboard. Try it free today.