Customer service is a big deal. It’s estimated that American businesses lose more than $40 billion annually because of poor customer service.

How does your company do in this area? Do you go above and beyond or just scrape by? Do you use social media as a channel to provide excellent customer service to your clients?

The truth is, as social media becomes more widespread, consumers are turning to social media as a medium to air grievances with businesses. Buffer cites a study that shows, “67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service.”

Do you understand how to use it for customer service complaints?

Utilizing Social Media for Outstanding Customer Service

Here's why social media is an important part of your company's customer service.

Here’s why social media is an important part of your company’s customer service.

Social Media Examiner shares that in 2016, “More than 85% of companies will have to compete on customer experience. It’s getting too expensive for industries to compete on price, so they need to differentiate themselves by customer experience.”

The article also explains that by working with clients one-on-one via social media leads to customer loyalty, making them more likely to spend more money with you, give you more repeat business and recommend you to their friends.

Social Media Today backs this statement up with a few statistics:

  • When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company.
  • Companies that improve their customer experience from average to ‘wow’ can see a 30-50% improvement in key measures such as likelihood to renew, likelihood to recommend and likelihood to buy another product.
  • Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly 3 times more likely to recommend a brand.
  • 42% of people will tell their friends about a good customer experience on social media, while 53% will talk about a bad one.

For Negative Feedback

Follow these steps to handle negative customer service on social media.

Follow these steps to handle negative customer service on social media.

It can be hard to receive negative feedback at all, let alone in such a public space like your company’s Facebook page or on Twitter. How should you react when you do see a comment or tweet pop up complaining about your business?

  1. Don’t take it personally. It can be hard not to get defensive when someone starts complaining about something you pour your heart and soul into, but emotions won’t help you settle the matter in a calm and professional manner.
  2. Don’t remove their post. Unless someone posts something vulgar, it’s a big social media no-no to delete the post. Plus, by keeping it there and responding to it, you’ll show others that visit your page that you address issues when they arise.
  3. Respond to them promptly and publicly. This does not mean you get into a debate with them via social media. Instead, write something to the effect of, “I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience. Can you please give me a call at [insert your phone number] or email me at [insert your email address] with additional details so we can address your concerns?” Make sure you respond to them right away, too. According to Virtual Social Media:
    • 85% of consumers that use Facebook want an answer within 6 hours.
    • 64% of consumers that use Twitter want an answer in an hour.
    • 77% of consumers will not wait over six hours to receive an email response.
  4. Be responsive. When they do reach out, don’t delay in connecting with them. If you miss their phone call, return it as quickly as possible. If they send an email, get back to them right away. The longer you leave them hanging, the more frustrated and ignored they’ll feel. Social Media Today reports, “77% of US online adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.”
  5. Really listen. What is your customer actually trying to tell you? Is there any feedback they’re providing you can learn from to make your business better?
  6. Show them you listened. This doesn’t mean you need to give into all their demands, but take the time to let them know they were heard and you’ll do what you can to make the situation right.
  7. Ask them for feedback. Take the opportunity to go a step further and ask them if they have ideas for how you can improve in the future.
  8. Move forward. Hopefully you’re able to resolve the customer service issue in a quick and positive way, but even if you aren’t, pick yourself up and move forward. I love what Nadya Khoja wrote about negative customer service on Spin Sucks: “Negative customer feedback is unavoidable, but it isn’t all bad. Everyone will always have an opinion and feel a need to share it with you whether you ask for it or not. The best thing to do is take it and learn from it.”

For Positive Feedback

What if you have a social media user praise your company? Thank them for it! That’s part of offering outstanding customer service. There are multiple ways you can show your gratitude without a lot of effort:

  • “Like” the update.
  • Share or retweet the update.
  • Send them a quick reply thanking them for their positive feedback.

A Personal Case Study:

My experience with's customer service was not a positive one.

My experience with’s customer service was not a positive one.

Recently, I had an experience that fits right into this topic. Because getting out to the store at 8.5 months pregnant with a 3-year-old in tow was a challenge, I decided to place a delivery order from as a way to get the groceries my family needed. I went online, picked out the food we wanted, selected our delivery window (4pm-6pm) and marked my calendar to make sure I’d be home and available at that time.

Well, the delivery window came and went; nobody arrived and I didn’t receive a phone call. So, around 6:40 I called customer service to find out what was going on. After waiting on hold for around 20 minutes, the woman I talked to told me the driver was running 50-60 minutes late (as if I couldn’t tell?). I asked if there was any sort of credit they could give me since they’re so late and it was really inconvenient, and all she said was, “Well the delivery times aren’t guaranteed. But I can credit your account with $6.75.” Feeling like I wasn’t helped at all, I said fine and goodbye, figuring that if the driver was 50-60 minutes late at least he’d be there soon.

Fast-forward to 8:30pm, and the driver still hadn’t arrived and nobody called. I went to call customer service again, but they were closed. So I found an email address and sent them a note explaining my frustration and, although I understood the delivery times weren’t guaranteed, it was now 2.5 hours after the window and a major inconvenience that I needed to sit around at home and remain available for whenever the driver would show up.

Given how frustrated I was at this point, I also complained on Twitter:


The driver eventually called at 9:30pm and asked if he should still come by, so we finally had all our groceries by 10pm – 4 hours after the end of the delivery window.

What about the customer service?

As I shared before, calling them didn’t help me at all.

I also never received a response on the email I sent to their customer service address.

Their social media team replied the next day and asked me to email them. I did, explaining why I was so frustrated and how inconvenient it ended up being. Then 4 days went by and I didn’t receive any response. It wasn’t until I sent them another message on Twitter that they finally emailed me a generic form-letter email and said they credited my account an additional $10.

To be honest, I don’t really care about the credit. I just wanted to be heard, and the entire experience left me feeling ignored. Social Media Today reports 66% of consumers switched to another provider within the past year because of poor customer service. I can tell you, I don’t plan to ever order from again, and now I don’t even want to go to their stores to give them any of my business.

How Could Improve Their Customer Service

Here are a few ways they could have rectified the situation along the way:

  • The driver could have called me within the delivery window to tell me he was running late and give me an updated time he expected to be there.
  • When I talked to the customer service representative on the phone, she could have sounded like she cared instead of just telling me they don’t guarantee delivery times.
  • Their customer service team could have responded to my email.
  • Their social media team could have replied to my email without additional prompting, and with a more personalized response. Even just mentioning one of my complaints instead of a generic “sorry” would have shown me they actually read my message.

In Conclusion

Remember this acronym when it comes to customer service!

Remember this acronym when it comes to customer service!

Negative feedback can be hard not to take personally, but as a business it’s important you use the opportunity to provide outstanding customer service to your clients.

I love this acronym from Provide Support:

Create positive experiences
Use innovative technologies (social media would fall under this category)
Stop ignoring your customers’ needs
Treat your customers with respect
Offer personalized customer service
Measure your service teams’ performance
Exceed customers’ expectations
Reward your loyal customers

Now you know what to do (and what not to do) if you see a negative complaint about your business on social media! Have you had any experience using Facebook, Twitter or other platforms for customer service for your business? Share in the comments below!

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