How Most Companies Fail at Social Customer Service

By: Sofie De Beule

March 18, 2014

In 2014, more and more companies are gradually incorporating social media into their customer service approach. However, many companies fail to implement it the right way. There’s still a huge gap between companies that rule social customer service and others who simply fail.

A great, recent quote by Brian Whetten from the Huffington Post explains how customer service is one of the most powerful tools to drive revenue, making it a crucial competitive advantage.

In today’s globalized world, products are becoming commodities. Brands are becoming hollow. And competitors are always just one mouse click away. But customer service is here to stay.

His statement shows that companies clearly don’t know the importance of quality traditional customer service. However, it’s still unsettling to see how many companies don’t get traditional customer service right, let alone customer service on their social channels.

Many companies still provide social customer service that isn’t nearly as good as the product or service they’re offering.

Let’s have a look at five ways companies don’t seem to fully embrace the power of social customer service and how they actually should.

1. Your Social Team is Unqualified or Lacks Training

It all starts with your team. To find your ultimate social customer service fit, recruit the right agents and train your employees appropriately to make them empowered from the start. Once every employee knows the ins and outs of delivering quality social customer service, it can instantly maximize the impact of your customer service offerings across your social channels.

However, it can be challenging to build a social media-savvy customer service team. Many make an attempt but fail because a social media presence actually leaves very little free space to make mistakes. What qualities should your employees possess? Look for people with strong writing skills who can judge situations in a timely manner and fit with your brand identity and corporate culture.

2. You Don’t Have the Right Tool

To automate and improve your social media customer service response, tools are required. As the volume of messaging continues to rise, many businesses feel overwhelmed by the volume of interaction. Subsequently, proper tools are needed. They will facilitate tasks like assigning conversations to be handled by different team members or providing a clear overview of all queued messages that will be addressed by employees in the customer service department.

3. Social Media is Your Only Customer Service Delivery Channel

There are definitely limitations to providing information through social customer service. Handing over personal information or private card details via Twitter’s Direct Messages or Facebook isn’t a wise idea. Companies should know when to transfer particular complaints or conversations to, in some cases, more appropriate channels like telephone, mail, or even face-to-face meetings.

Implementing social customer service clearly doesn’t mean ditching all your customer service channels. What’s actually the point here? While social should definitely be a big part of your customer service strategy, it’s not your only customer touch point. Customers prefer to be helped at the specific place in which they’re looking for assistance. So, if your customers send out a tweet, don’t reply to them by email. Needless to say, it works the other way around as well.

4. You Engage Like a Robot

Although conversations with companies on Twitter can easily feel distant and impersonal, the informal nature of social predicts otherwise. People don’t like to encounter robot-like language that makes the people behind the brand or company feel inhuman and out of touch with the brand’s story. Real interactions are, however, considered rare. People like to be addressed personally, and more importantly, with a touch of humor.

5. You Consider it a 9-to-5 Job

Recent studies by Sentiment indicated that 75% of customers want a brand’s customer service response time to be the same on weekends than on weekdays. However, many companies simply aren’t providing social customer service over the weekend and still implement a 9-to-5 mind-set. Although the workload could be a lot less on weekends, regardless of what industry you’re in, availability is crucial!

Around-the-clock support isn’t always necessary, however, it’s useful to put effort into training your social team to be accessible during the best times possible for your industry. Another note: customers also expect you to respond in a timely manner. A response time exceeding a one-hour delay may be considered not up to expectations and standards.

How does your company overcome these customer service challenges?