How to Develop an Effective Social Media Customer Service Experience Part III
Peter Panda

Part III: Dear Consumer: Steps to a Successful Social Media Engagement

We’re glad to see you’ve come back around to read the second segment on How to Develop an Effective Social Media Customer Service Experience. If you’re new to series, you can read the first post here and the second post here. In this post, we’ll provide a guideline for consumers on how to make the most out of their experience with companies on social media.

Dear consumers, we’re all human and need help at times. I’m here providing insight to ensure you have the most beneficial experience when contacting companies on social media platforms. By following these simple guidelines, you’ll be successful in getting the assistance you want and you’ll have an enjoyable experience while doing so.

1. There is actually a person behind the responses on social media.

We are not robots! That being said, going on a 500-character rant is not helping you or the company. It’s okay to vent, but remember that someone else has to read it and reply back. The longer the post or tweet, the more time it takes us to decipher your hidden code of what the problem actually is.

2. We’re not mind readers; provide details of what exactly is going on.

As awesome as it would be to know exactly what everyone thinks, we CANNOT (let me repeat that, CANNOT) read your mind. To ensure you get prompt help, just tell us what the problem is upfront. Then it can be addressed quickly and you can get back to tweeting or Facebook stalking your friends.

3. Using manners helps!

Cursing out a company on social media gets you nowhere —it might even mean you won’t even get a response! So that post you left Company XYZ saying:

“$%#$ your company! My issue hasn’t been %^&$ fixed in 24 hours, so I’m going to $%@#@$ $@#[email protected]#[email protected] this @#[email protected]#[email protected] up!”

Do you really want you grandmother to read that on your Facebook News Feed? Didn’t think so. Just remember, we understand you’re upset and we want to help.

4. Patience is a virtue.

We know how important it is to get your question or complaint acknowledged and answered within a timely manner. Unless otherwise indicated on the company’s site, most social media customer care teams are not 24/7. (That’s what the 1-800 number is for.) To help set the right expectations, here are some good rules of thumb on the timeframe of responses:

  • During business hours, expect a reply within an hour of tweeting or posting. Your comment is important, but there are lots of others posting comments at the same time who think the same thing. A customer support agent is always trying to answer everyone in a timely manner.
  • During “off” hours, many companies indicate their hours of operation on their customer service page/handle. If you send a message during this time, please allow up to 24 business hours for a response.

Note: Companies that do cover weekends or holidays might have a longer response time because of higher volumes to catch up over the downtime.

5. DO NOT leave private information (your address, phone number, account number, serial numbers etc.) on public platforms such as the Facebook wall or Twitter mention.

If you need to send private information, don’t leave it in the open for anyone to see. Instead, it’s best to send a direct message on Twitter or private message on Facebook. This way, only you and the company can see the information.

6. Post once and wait for a reply!

Just because you post 2 or 50 times on a company’s page, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a response faster. Leaving one— yes, just one — post will get you the attention and help you need.

7. Be realistic with your demands.

Companies understand that sometimes services go down or a product might not work. They also are willing to work with you on a refund, credit or billing adjustment for the inconvenience. However, as a consumer you’ve got to be realistic!

Billing adjustments Most companies will provide a prorated adjustment based on the time your service was down. Here’s how it’s typically figured:

Monthly fee / Total days in the month = Average cost per day

Average cost per day x Number of days out = Credit

Example: Your services cost $160 monthly and, because of an outage, they were down for two days in December 2014. So that would mean:

160 / 31 = $5.16 per day, and $5.16 x 2 = $10.32 credit

Expecting to receive a full month of free services or another service that costs more is excessive, and 9.999 times out of 10, it will not happen.

Replacements Expect to receive a replacement of a product that is of equal value unless, the product is under warranty or insurance and states otherwise.

Returns Be patient when returning an item that was not to your liking. The company cannot control the shipping time back and forth, but most will provide an estimated time of arrival.

Now that you’re equipped with these six simple steps, take a minute to think about them the next time you tweet or Facebook a company. It’ll not only set your expectations on how the process works, it’ll also help you get the help you want.



Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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