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If we get bad customer service online, we vote with our feet. We stop doing business with the company in question, or take action against it. We call it out on Facebook, Twitter and (in the famous case of United Airlines) we notoriously write songs about it.  

Although most brands use social media to market themselves, relatively few provide really excellent customer service.

Here are my top five tips for getting customer service right on Facebook...

There’s a great infographic here about the steps we take when we’ve had bad customer service, and how brands can counter those steps. (And you can’t beat a good infographic.)

And yet, while just about every brand now uses social media to market themselves, relatively few provide really excellent customer service on social channels.

In the US, AT&T is being held up by Facebook as a case study on how to use the social network for customer service. An important part of this is the dialogue that Facebook facilitates. AT&T has created a customer care app on Facebook, and has invested in monitoring what people are saying.

ASOS has a dedicated customer service channel on Facebook (ASOS Here to Help) which is used to respond to issues quickly and take customer service discussions off the main Facebook page.

BT and Dell, of course, have support community on Facebook that allows customers to self-serve and ask the community for support, as well as contact the brand direct. Presumably this relieves pressure on contact centres.

Five tips for getting customer service right on Facebook:

  1. Listen to what people are saying about you on Facebook and other social channels. It’ll help you spot issues and resolve them; and it’ll tell you what your customers love and hate (which can inform product development).
  2. Create a dedicated Facebook app or tab to deal with customer service issues. It’ll stop your main page getting clogged up with complaints and issues.
  3. If you’re going to do customer service on Facebook, do customer service on Facebook. Don’t create a ‘Talk to us! We’d love to hear your experiences!’ page and then leave comments there to rot.

    Resource it properly, with people who are authorised to take action. I’m amazed by the number of brands who still staff their Facebook pages with interns.

  4. Don’t be afraid to let customers talk to each other. Sometimes they’ll be able (and willing) to help each other out.

    But check they’re telling each other the right things and recognise and acknowledge the efforts of useful contributors 

  5. Respond quickly and appropriately. There’s nothing like posting identical corporate responses to everyone who comments on your wall to get the community into a spin.

    Apologise if you’ve got something wrong, and put it right.

I’d be really interested to hear good (and bad) experiences that Econsultancy readers have had with brands on Facebook...

Steve Richards

Published 9 September, 2011 by Steve Richards

Steve Richards is MD of social media agency Yomego and a contributor to Econsultancy.

31 more posts from this author

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Eliza StJohn, Online Marketing Manager at The Body Shop InternationalEnterprise

Create a dedicated tab? Are most people not jumping on their mobile devices to complain? Tabs are notoriously hard to access on a mobile device. Am I missing something?

almost 5 years ago

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Rebecca Moring, Community Manager at Context Optional

All good points but if I could add a sixth then it would be to pin down a comprehensive social media plan. So if the brand has a social media firestorm, all staff know how to respond, who to contact etc. If it's a big crisis then they need to be able to reach a top exec at any hour of the day and create a message direct from them. You don't want to be planning these things on the fly as it eats into the time you should be spending responding and mitigating the consequences. Done well, this can turn a negative into a positive reflection of the brand.

almost 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I feel like customer service should be a required class for all business owners. Everyone talks about how great their customer service is, but most fall flat. I think point #3 is right on the money. If you say it, make sure you follow through!

almost 5 years ago

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Sam

I agree there is a need for companies to deal with customer service issues by developing a dedicated Facebook app or tab. Social networking is powerful. High time we explore options.

almost 5 years ago

Steve Richards

Steve Richards, MD at Yomego

Completely agree, Rebecca / Nick. And, Eliza, I take your point but in our experience the majority of customer service queries and gripes can still be directed away from the wall via a tab. Hopefully the facebook app will be updated soon to make it easier to access tabs.

almost 5 years ago

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verygoodservice

The suggestion is good but can a tab really handle many CS issues in terms of multitude of threads, topics etc. Instead could company deal with it through a proper community management platform which would be well integrated with FB in terms of sign-in so that there is no social network disconnect?

almost 5 years ago

Steve Richards

Steve Richards, MD at Yomego

Agreed - a tab is one tip but a customer service community platform provides more scope in terms of functionality. We designed and built one for our client, eircom: http://eircomconnect.eircom.net/

almost 5 years ago

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Rebecca Moring, Community Manager at Context Optional

@verygoodservice I do agree that a Community Management Platform is going to allow you to be far more effective (though of course, I would say that!). Our clients find most value in quick response times, escalation to different departments (e.g. customer service, PR, returns etc), depending on the type of query/post and also to manually or auto-delete malicious posts/swear words. The customer just sees that the brand has a quick response time and is listening - which is extremely important nowadays. The ability to manage workflow and audit activity is also essential.

almost 5 years ago

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John Knight

I have visited the AT&T page and find nothing in regards to a CS tab or app. Where is this information coming from? If it was successful why can I no longer see it, if it existed previously?

Not everyone uses tabs and those that do, there is no place for a back-and-forth dialogue, which really makes it pointless. Most look like a Facebook version of their contact us page on their company website...

almost 5 years ago

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Kathryn Hellewell, Digital Marketing Consultant at KJL Marketing Ltd.

Agree with John, I can't find anything still on the AT&T page. Also I'm interested to know how ASOS promote their 'here to help' page. There doesn't seem to be anything about it on their regular Facebook page.

almost 5 years ago

Steve Richards

Steve Richards, MD at Yomego

Good spot John and Kathryn. AT&T seems to have changed elements on its Facebook page since the publication of the case study. Customer service queries appear to be dealt with in the discussion section now, which just goes to show how quickly businesses are changing their social media CRM practices.

almost 5 years ago

Seema Kumari

Seema Kumari, Head of Digital Marketing at Hearst Magazines

The Asos here to help page is excellent. Response is literally instant and if I have a problem with my order I'm guaranteed to go to their Facebook page instead of emailing them direct. The here to help page isn't actively promoted on the site but certainly appears to be the preferred customer service channel amongst their target audience.

almost 5 years ago

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews, Lead Generation Manager at Kumon Educational UK

Sorry @steve @seeema how is ASOS doing a good job with regards to customer service? There seems to be a deliberate attempt to hide the area where brand and customers discuss issues.

I feel this as this is:
1. a "here to help" dedicated page off the main brand page (assumption as I see no connection)
2. the wall has no activity
3. the customer service area is on a discussion tab amongst several non functioning tabs

the area is far removed from anything else which means you need to be fairly resourceful to actual lodge your issue / complaint.

almost 5 years ago

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