The Dos and Don'ts of Social Media Customer Support

Simon Orgulan
8 min
January 12, 2024

Remember the days when customer support was only reachable via phone? We’ve come a long way since then. Nowadays, not only is your business lagging behind if it’s not also reachable via email and live chat, the same applies if you have no social media presence and thus cannot respond to your customers’ queries and complaints there.

The main reason is, if you want to stay in the loop with social media customer service best practices, you can’t expect your customers to bend over backwards for you. If anything, it should be the other way around. The last thing you’d want to do is make things even harder for a disgruntled customer who’s already ripe with frustration!

Since social media where your business has a presence is just another social media customer support channel, what’s the big deal, you might ask?

Well, it’s not that simple. You see, any other customer support channel is essentially a private tunnel of communication between a company representative and the customer. Social media customer service jobs, on the other hand, may involve your company representative speaking to one of your customers publicly for everyone else to see, which means you should be super careful about what you say because the wrong approach can spiral into a PR disaster before you say cheese.

So what should you train your support agents to do?

And, more importantly, what should you train them to steer clear of at all costs?

These are the dos and don’ts of social media customer support:

DO: Respond ASAP

When a customer finds themselves in need of assistance, their patience is already wearing thin. They want your help now because not only are they looking to resolve an issue they’re facing – they want to be heard. At the very least, you should formulate a response in one hour at the latest; that’s the norm with most social media customer service jobs out there. And that’s only if further investigation is required, otherwise your company should respond immediately if a customer support agent is available. If you’re serving people in different regions and timezones, consider hiring more than one representative to cover the gaps.

DON’T: Get defensive

In customer service, the customer is always right, even when you know deep down inside they’re making a fuss over nothing. Nevertheless, kindness is the golden rule of social media customer retention. As provocative as the customers may get, letting them lure you into a verbal confrontation is never the right move to make. The reason being is that you may come across as someone who can’t keep their impulses in check and perhaps even being unable to see your own flaws. And that’s not even mentioning the storm that may come in the form of people grouping up on the poor customer support agent (remember that the people are more likely to side with the little guy rather than the company). Therefore, resist the urge to tell them they’re wrong – kill them with kindness instead.

DO: Be familiar with each customer’s case history

If you’re familiar with the kind of issues the customer has been having before, it’s easier to provide more suitable (and helpful) answers. However, things can get exponentially more complicated if, for example, the customer in question has complained through one channel before and now they’re reaching out to you via another. The solution is to have a customer case database up and ready to go; this way, any customer support agent can search through its history and pull up the relevant information within seconds. The industry term you’re looking for is CRM software. It can help you track your sales progress, manage your business relationship, and more.

DON’T: Transfer them over to another channel

Oftentimes, companies with the best social media presence will have the budget and manpower to juggle multiple customer support channels. In turn, this may prompt them to transfer the customer to the channel that’s most convenient for them (and not the customer). The issue here is, you never want to introduce any more inconvenience than absolutely necessary. Do you truly think a disgruntled customer is willing to retell the story one more time to another customer support agent? Don’t tease the animals. Respond right there and then instead.

DO: Use proper grammar

In general, the consensus is that customer support agents should gravitate towards a formal tone of voice irrespective of the channel they’re communicating through. This means no slang and proper usage of grammar and punctuation. Instruct them to re-read their responses to double-check that everything is as it should be before hitting “send”. Keep in mind that the ratings people leave are partially influenced by the way they were treated and not merely based on the answer they received.

DON’T: Use complex terms to describe the solution

One of your customer support agents might feel the urge to demonstrate their superior technical skills, but it turns out that speaking in layman terms is usually the most understandable and thus helpful to the customer. Therefore, instruct them to simplify the technicality of the answer if possible. If they can explain the solution in a step-by-step format, even better. At the same time, you want to keep it professional, so using a formal tone of voice is recommended (no emojis this time around).

DO: Use the @ handle correctly

This one is specific to Twitter and any other social media platform that encourages you to use the “@” symbol when addressing a specific person. This is to ensure that the message is exclusively sent to the person who’s asking for help. Fail to learn and utilize this technique correctly and your entire follower base will be blasted with bouts of spam, which is the last thing you’d want to see.

DON’T: Let the customers gang up on you

Having a wide social media presence means that you will likely have a substantial follower count as well. As great as this may be, on the flipside, it also means that customers who are experiencing similar issues will have an easier time grouping up and causing a massive public uproar, a fire you want to put out before it gets too big. Letting them gang up on you creates the illusion that everyone is experiencing the same kind of issues, while, in reality, it could be nothing more than an echo chamber phenomenon. It’s recommended to address these cases in a chronological order, from oldest to newest, and make a public announcement in case you’ve managed to resolve a broad issue.

DO: Keep the quality of your customer support services level

Sometimes, companies with the best social media presence might slip into thinking that they should prioritize the channels where the majority of the customers are hanging out. However, each of your customers deserves to be treated as an equal, so do your best to offer the same quality of customer support all across the board and reply in a timely manner whenever possible. If you need more manpower to do a good job, consider hiring a social media manager who’ll keep an eye on every aspect of your social media presence. Whatever you do, make sure that someone is watching out for possible complaints no matter what social media network they’re coming from. You wouldn’t want to leave those unanswered, would you?

DON’T: Forget to follow up

Following up with your customers is synonymous with social media customer retention. Even though you’ve given them all the answers they need to resolve the issue, you still need to make sure they’ve followed the steps you’ve outlined for them. Your first instinct may tell you not to bother your customers at all, but simply asking them if they’ve resolved what was bothering them is likely to be perceived as an act of care rather than an annoyance.

DO: Address them by their first name

Don’t you hate receiving generic, copy-paste type of responses? So do your customers. Therefore, you should strive to make your responses as personalized as possible, which includes addressing them by their first name and offering a solution that resolves the issue they’re experiencing. The answer should sound like it came from a real human being and not some chatbot. You want to make them feel like you truly care, and an experienced customer support agent knows the importance of developing and exercising their empathetic muscle.

DON’T: Leave your profile in a messy state

Remember that having a messy and unprofessional-looking social media profile is arguably even worse than having no social media presence at all. If you want your business to be taken seriously, you need to develop a public image that resonates with your company values, and your social media channels are a great way to start working on it. As soon as one of your customers visits your profile and glances at the front wall, they should be able to tell that they’ve arrived at the right place.

DO: Pin the announcements that apply to all

If you’ve recently applied a major fix to your services or tweaked something a sizable amount of people have been having issues with, it’s a good idea to announce it in a pinned post so it will be easy to get seen. This also shows that you actively monitor the situation and are constantly working towards improving the quality of your products and services.

DON’T: Delete the negative comments

As you strive to preserve your good reputation online, you might start thinking about deleting bad comments to artificially paint yourself in a brighter picture. Don’t. The internet knows everything and there are plenty of web archives that document everything that has happened, including the bad stuff. If you get caught deleting comments, someone may decide to expose you by posting a snapshot from one of these archives, which is bound to make you come across even worse.

DO: Collaborate with your marketing department

Running a successful company is a team effort. If your team members aren’t willing to learn from each other to progress, then you probably aren’t working with the right people. If, however, they’re open to collaborating with other departments whether it be to exchange experience or learn a new skill, you’ll find that many of these are cross-transferable. Particularly, we’re talking about having your customer support department collaborate with the marketing department. Both have one thing in common – creating content and interacting with others. The former can compile a list of the most commonly complained about issues the latter can use to optimize their marketing materials.

If you want to take this concept to the next level, we encourage you to use Ocoya. What we’re about to show you will change the way you think about presenting the benefits of your products and services to other people, whether it be on customer support channels, marketing materials, or anywhere else.

First, head on over to the app's main menu and click the Travis AI section you'll find on the left.

Step 1 is to click on Ocoya's Travis AI sectio

Then, keep scrolling down until you find the before-after-bridge section.

Find the before-after section

Tell Ocoya about your brand and services in a brief couple of sentences and hit the big green Generate button.

Tell Ocoya about your products and services

Ocoya will come up with plenty of marketing materials you can use when describing the benefits of using your products and services to a prospective client.

Ocoya will shower you with customized product benefits

DON’T: Discuss private matters in public

Although it’s generally a good idea to reply publicly to public comments so that other people who might be experiencing a similar issue can see your answer, use your better judgment to determine when you should move the conversation to a private channel. The reason being is that, sometimes, sensitive personal information needs to be shared to resolve the issue, and you wouldn’t want any of it to be leaked online. To make sure the intended recipient has received it, you can simply let them know that you’ve sent them a personal message on whatever platform you’ve decided to use for the purpose.

Nowadays, your customers expect you to have a presence on social media where they may also get in touch with you to discuss technical difficulties or send a complaint regarding one of the products or services you’re offering. It’s your task to respond with civility, dignity, and kindness, all while giving them personalized and useful information. If you have a dedicated customer support team on the job, don’t forget to show them this helpful guide so they can withstand even the trickiest situation with grace and not slip up under pressure.

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