Paolo Fabrizio
March 24, 2015

How To Turn Social Customer Service Issues Into Assets

Delivering excellent customer service via social networks is not childs play. You need to re-think and adapt procedures in order to integrate social customer service into your organization.

Smart companies are determined to face and overcome such challenges because they believe we’ve entered a brand new customer service era, so they want to be perceived as pioneers. That’s an excellent way to get a competitive advantage against your competitors.

Nevertheless, as companies start to interact online with customers, they realize that it’s not just rainbows and butterflies. Brands also need to be ready to face negative feedback, critics, attacks and – sometimes – insults (!).

Today I will help you turn negative feedback into business opportunities by improving overall customer satisfaction with 4 pillars.

1. “Oops!…I did it again” does not work

I guess most of you remember this Britney Spears major hit. It was a great pop song and the title itself was part of the success. However when it comes to business, customers do NOT like excuses.

They just hate them.

They want their problems to be solved as soon as possible, otherwise they will be dissatisfied and that will lead them to take impactful decisions on your business. In this respect the infographic below by Dimensional Research, highlights the dangerous consequences of poor customer service:


Image source – Dimensional Research, 2013  

Lessons learned:

  • Poor customer service + bad customer experience = poor business results. When customers perceive they are not treated well or not as they had expected, their sentiment becomes negative.
  • Dissatisfied customers share their experience via social networks to amplify their sense of frustration because they need to be heard. If that happens, your Brand has failed. Instead your social customer service must be human, using empathy to listen clients’ needs and build profitable conversations. As Bryan Kramer states, it’s ‘human to human’ (H2H).
  • Strive to provide a superior customer experience, as it’s very expensive to balance a bad one (on average 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one – source “understanding customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner).

2. Use proper tools to track mentions and react promptly

As more and more customers use social networks to express their sentiments, brands must constantly be aware of critical online conversations in a timely manner. That’s paramount for any company in order to extinguish any flame before it turns to a REAL fire.

Therefore you need to be equipped with a proper “radar” that can constantly captureintercept and prioritize mentions about your brand, especially those negative. To do so, use efficient platforms that easily integrate with your current CRM systems. Here are some useful resources for you:

The best way to solve a problem is to prevent it.

3. ACT

Now that you have set up your radar (taking for granted that you’ve trained your staff as well), you are ready to ACT:

A –> Answer in real time/according to specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), policies and guidelines to your online customers’ queries. Take into account that online conversations are public, so what you say, when you say it and how you say it are crucial: many other customers and prospects are listening and judging you!

C –> Convert customers using listening and empathy. Acknowledge them, reply quoting your name and follow up to acknowledge their questions or concerns. These tactics are vital in the social customer service environment, where customers cannot see your face, nor hear your voice. So, give them valuable signals that you care!

T –> Transfer relevant information to/from other departments of your Company. Customers may use Facebook or Twitter to send you inquiries that require action by other departments, such as product/service delivery, pricing or billing issues. Therefore you must avoid any siloed approach. Each department should act in a timely manner to become involved and provide the social customer team with relevant information to be communicated to the customer.

Below a good example of excellent conversation by UK insurer Aviva.


4. Turn pitfalls into opportunities

Finally, the turning point. When you face issues or critical online conversations, react promptly but never do it emotionally. Instead, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and answer this question:

What made me feel upset/dissatisfied and what should the Brand do to please me and make me happy a happy customer?

Do avoid formal or impersonal responses and canned form responses, because customers appreciate openness, humility and transparency. A very good example of how to take advantage of a critical online situation is Hootsuite. A few months ago, they had received several negative tweets by users complaining about their poor graphic interface. They listened to their customers, acknowledged the issue and fixed it. Then, they communicated to their customers with a funny video featuring Hootsuite colleagues reading these very negative tweets and showing how the company restructured their web interface.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

Your turn

Nobody said it would be easy, but social customer service is what customers demand. Therefore, be ready to handle the good with the bad – praise and attacks. The key to empowering your brand is solving customers’ problems quickly and reassuring them constantly, thus, evangelizing them.

Have great online conversations.

Thanks for reading this article. Please share your love and add your comments.


Lead Image: Multiple sources

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan