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April 22, 2015

Social customer care

The landscape is changing.

If you have an eCommerce shop it’s good to take a minute and put yourself into the shoes of your customer. Let’s think about the journey they take.

It used to be that you would buy something in the good ol’ bricks and mortar shop, you get it home only to find that there is a fault. Annoying as it was, you jumped straight back in the car and spoke to the Manager to get a replacement. Or you draft a letter and send that off, knowing that it will take a few days, but what’s the rush, your point will be made and you will be heard.

Fast forward a little and you spend seemingly forever on hold; ‚Äòoh, you need to speak to the deliveries department’. You draft a diplomatic yet pointed email and wait for a day, maybe two.

During the time of social media emergence people began to realise the power. Brands flooded to create profiles; it is another marketing channel and due to that, another, more accessible portal to be contacted via. Those meticulously penned words go straight out of the window and the venting begins. This was to be the last port of call, a place to rant about the poor or disservice they received. From the ages of 15 to 50, those who like to share their anger do. It’s just easier on social media. Not so great if your business name appears there, multiple times.

Times move fast, people are busy and we’re in the time of people wanting everything immediately – like most things nowadays.

Now – what do your customers do if there’s a problem?

Recent research shows that more and more people are turning to social platforms as the first base in their complaint or question. It is no longer the last resort. It is a swift way to get your complaint registered.

Is it because(?):

It’s easy – a few words and your complaint is out there
The timing – comment whenever you like, it only takes a moment to write 140 characters
The publicity – how can a brand not respond when you have publicly called them out?

And they expect almost immediate responses:

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This is definitely something to take into consideration. Social proof, peer respect and online communities are strong on social media. Your brand and voice are very important to your future as a business. You may be reaching out to new customers in other means but you can’t ignore your churn; customer retention is the easiest way to help your business grow. Plus, this is all part of your omni-channel offering.

Social customer care

Brand voice

Questions and complaints are extremely public and should be treated with the utmost care. No matter how high the priority of one case may be, you can’t react drastically differently to a more trivial comment. Your customer may not see it as trivial.

Will you be friendly, serious, technical? The voice has to align with your already visible branding, whether this be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. This all has to fit and reinforce your personality. Think about creating a base list of responses, which can be tailored to fit but ensure that no response waivers too far from the norm; or even have examples of language style.

There is a big difference between:

‚ÄòWe are very sorry to hear this, can you please send an email to [email protected] and we will pick this up immediately.’


‚ÄòHey there Liz! Uh oh‚Ķ that’s no good, can you drop us a DM with your order number in? Ta v. much – Sandy’

How will your staff sign-off? Some companies keep things within the brand, the staff speak on behalf of the brand. Others sign-off with their names, adding that extra little bit of personalisation.

SLA and response time

Be clear about your social online hours. If you’re not careful then customers can assume that you offer 24/7 support. You can detail this in the bio of your company. Many brands have a separate account used solely for queries & assistance. Some brands clearly post ‚Äògood morning’ and ‚Äògood night, see you at 8am’ messages, for example.


How will you actually answer complaints?

You need to work out how your social customer care will be managed. If you’re happy enough to answer and service all questions live online; you can ask for Direct Messages (DMs) to get emails/phone numbers; or if you suggest that they email you on your customer help address. There are multiple things to factor in.

The Royal Mail will actively check all deliveries in real time of social media, but do you have the resources to do so? You need to be careful not to over service any one individual, otherwise all will expect this.

Dedicated social customer care solutions are now becoming available; monitoring and ticketing platform, streamlining all social media platforms and creating a more solid base for company growth. Do ensure that at least the last message is live, online as a response, otherwise other potential customers will not be convinced that you resolved the issue.

Also, do consider CRM integration and audit trails.

Who will respond?

So, you have your platforms ready, but will your Marketing Team or your Support and Customer Service team respond? As your company grows you might need to think about hiring someone to be monitoring the platforms constantly, to employ a social customer care team.

To start off with; ensure that the person in charge is equipped with a good grasp of grammar, customer service and of course, your service/product, as a minimum. Ask yourself if all responses require a second pair of eyes; sometimes language can be misleading.

Are there factors in play to deal with escalation? If this starts to go bad, who will the issue get escalated to? We are talking about almost immediate responses being expected here, if an issue requires escalation, waiting until your afternoon break simply doesn’t cut it.

Monitoring / listening

If you have all of the above covered; all questions are answered quickly and politely and all issues dealt with swiftly and professionally, what next?

There are various monitoring platforms which you can employ to ‚Äòlisten’ to the online noise and filter out any suggestion of your brand. responding with a ‚Äòthanks we think you’re great too’ out of the blue really affords a smile. Alternatively, catching a negative mention of your brand could be turned around if you act cleverly. Be careful not to appear as a stalker though, choose your words wisely.

Conclusion …

Show that you do care. Stay on brand. Think about the journey from the consumer’s point of view. Take into consideration your company and make room for growth.

If you do all of this well you may end up with a:


If you want to have a look at who’s doing things well, to pick up some tips from the top then have a look at this leaderboard,the top performing brands in ‚Äòsocial customer care’, updated weekly.

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