social media = modern day customer service hotline

Do’s and Don’ts of taking your customer service online

If you think of social media mostly in terms of digital marketing (or simply as a designated destination for funny cat videos), you are not wrong, but you might be missing an important part of the picture. Social media connects you to your customers. In turn, your customers expect you to meet them where they are – online. In this day and age, social media is the customer service hotline. Although it might sound a little scary and a whole lot overwhelming, using social media for customer service helps you build a loyal base that will elevate your brand. If you do it right, it’s a win-win!

Businesswoman wearing a cape and mask, flying through the sky

Here are five DOs and DON’Ts of social media customer service:


1. Reply as quickly as possible

If the office phone rings, you pick it up and answer the caller’s questions. A customer who is reaching out to you on social media expects a service that is just as fast, but without the burden of actually having to talk to a person on the phone (it’s a thing). Replying as fast as possible is great not only because the customer will appreciate it, but because it reduces the amount of time where not-so-accurate information can be shared by others.

2. Set expectations

There is nothing wrong with not being able to respond online immediately. It helps, however, to set the expectations. Make it clear how long it might take you to respond. If there are other resources that will provide the answers faster, let your customers know.

3. Set up FAQ resource

If customers regularly have the same questions, it’s a clue that you need to provide self-service information resources. Also, create canned responses for fast and accurate replies. A canned response is an approved, streamlined, and brand-friendly response that can be saved and rolled out quickly when talking to a customer.

4. Meet negativity with positivity

Simply responding is not enough. Customers expect a fast, friendly response. Turn negative comments into a positive customer service experience by providing solutions and resolving issues with patience and grace.

5. Listen, appreciate and resolve

On social media, it’s not just the individual you’re responding to who can see your reply. You are speaking to a large audience of followers and representing your brand worldwide. Remember that when you’re crafting your response.


1. Neglect your customers

No response can be just as bad as a poor response. People love being acknowledged and heard. You wouldn’t ignore them in person or on the phone, so don’t ignore them on social media.

2. Be defensive

Yes, sometimes it’s really hard, and there are certainly times where clarification is necessary, but self-justifying and overt sensitivity are unlikely to help you in the long run. If you feel defensive, take a moment, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and give the best advice you can without taking it personally.

3. Delete comments

Delete buttons can be attractive in some situations. But – resist. Unless the comment is breaking the community rules, or is clearly trolling, make an effort to respond. Perhaps the person you’re talking to won’t reciprocate, but others who are watching will take note of you taking the high road.

4. Go overboard with information

In certain circumstances, it might make more sense to take the conversation off social media. Whether you have to ask for personal info (which should never be shared on social media), or the answer is too complicated to explain in a comment section, reach out to the person via private message, or ask them to connect with you by phone or email.

5. Be a dinosaur

What’s wrong with dinosaurs, you may ask? Aren’t they marvelous? They are (they were!) – but they’re definitely not your customer service role models. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Take advantage of the automated features that social media offers. Set up “instant” or “quick” replies on Facebook and Instagram to easily answer FAQs, and set expectations in terms of when you’ll be able to chat personally. Embrace the bots – to the extent that will serve you, because nothing compares to human touch. How do we know? We built our business on that premise!

And if you still feel like an overwhelmed dinosaur, we are here to help you!


Keywords: customer service, marketing, digital marketing, tips for customer service online, do’s and dont’s

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