How to use social media for customer service

What if I told you that by implementing one simple strategy, you could save over £30,000 per year in your Customer Service Centre – as well as building deep, meaningful relationships with your target audience. The answer is all down to how to use social media for customer service.

In years gone by your customers used to fire across a strongly-worded email or pick up the phone to vent their frustrations, ask a question or make a place an order. Fast forward to now…a time when we are slap bang in themiddle of the digital age…a time when the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no taxi’s, and the world’s largest accommodation provider, AirBnB, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening to the customer interface.

How to use social media for customer service

Digital and social channels have become the channels of choice for customer communication, and it’s accelerating – fast. However with this form of customer service it can be harder to meet expectations, customers want the same level of service and instant resolutions that they achieve through phone conversations. Organisations are now faced with the challenge of how they meet and delight their customers using these social customer service channels.

But it’s not all bad! Once harnessed effectively, social customer service doesn’t just offer your customers a quick and easy contact channel, it provides organisations with an opportunity to build positive relationships while also saving money. Think about it. How many calls does your contact centre take every year? If you took 100,000 calls, a recent study estimates that would cost you £283,000 per year. If you were able to move across just 11% of those calls to social channels, you would save £30,580 per year – that’s a lot of resource you can use elsewhere.

So how do you harness these channels effectively, speed up your social customer service, making it more effective and saving your organisation money? Well, we’re going to tell you.

Speed up your service

With your customers investing more time into accessing their social channels and 42% of them expecting a response within 60 minutes, it’s essential to ensure that you have the best strategies and tools in place to meet their expectations. A fast response is an essential first step when looking to improve relationships with your customers. So put the tools in place to make sure inbound messages are picked up and routed through to the relevant team, and that the relevant team has the information they require to resolve them. Then take your baseline response time measurement, set you target, and get tracking and refining. 

Put everything together

When managing multiple social channels make it simple! It’s essential to have a system in place to collate all of your incoming messages, simplifying your approach and help you to make sure that no messages are missed. Plus when accessing channels natively it can become confusing to see what has been actioned and by who and this can produce problems long term. Ensure that you have a social media management platform in place to save you valuable time and keep your brand protected.

Expand your social team

You should try to introduce social media into multiple departments, enabling members of different teams to access and respond to incoming messages. This enables the best possible person to action incoming messages depending upon the message topic. For example, if you work within a Council’s Communications Department you may not know off the top of your head how much the different Council Tax bands pay, but by having the ability to forward messages onto to a “social media ambassador” in specific departments, for example the Council Tax Team, your customers get an effective resolution in half the time. Giving your customers the information they need, without having to chase other departments for information – while streamlining and simplifying your internal processes.

How to drive the enquiries to social..

When you are ready to really push social media as a customer service channel, it’s essential to highlight the fact that your organisation is now embracing. Driving your customers to your social channels can be financially rewarding but be sure you are prepared.How to use social media for customer service

Feature links to your social channels on your website

It’s an obvious point, but if you want to encourage your customers to use social customer service, make it clear on your website that you offer it. Include links to your social channels and the times that your accounts will be manned to ensure they don’t expect a response at 3 am.

Don’t ignore the negativeHow to use social media for customer service


Negative feedback can be annoying and it can be tempting to sweep it under the carpet but don’t do it! By not responding to criticism you can make your brand look unresponsive, inhuman and fake – it can do more harm than good. Publicly resolving a complaint is a perfect opportunity to showcase your amazing customer service, embrace the challenge.

Use snippets in a crisis

During peak times or when a crisis strikes, the volume of  your incoming messages will increase, so you need to prepare for this in advance. You need to implement a backup strategy to help you to respond if you have a significant increase in activity. This could be done by creating templates that can be shared between your team, or if your social media management platform has the ability, you could create keyboard snippets. A quick fix for emergencies is great, but if possible customise the responses slightly to make them as effective and personalised as possible.

Social customer service demanding is growing at considerable rate, but rather than being a drain, channel-shifting to digital can create additional resource money and be the building blocks for better customer relations. Social media management platforms are continuously innovating, creating features that will streamline your internal procedures and making it even easier to harness this effective channel.

Discover how we helped National Express Coaches to manage a high volume of customer service interactions and make their social customer service even more remarkable, by shifting 11% of inbound enquiries to social media in less than 12 months.


Rhiannon BirchAbout the Writer:
Rhiannon Birch is PR & Marketing Coordinator at SocialSignIn. She is passionate about all aspects of writing and enjoys discussing the real-life stories behind social media. With two young children and three dogs, Rhiannon spends her (very little) spare time exploring new places and watching Star Wars.

If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn click here or follow her on Twitter @RhiSkywalker