American pharmacist Walgreens has added an ‘Answers’ tab to its Facebook page, providing social customer service in relation to prescriptions and health queries.

Walgreens says that this is another example of its commitment to innovation in the digital space, and that it provides customers with greater access to pharmacists and other clinical experts.

This is an extension to an existing Walgreens service which allows customers to talk to a pharmacist 24/7 via the brand’s website.

The Answers feature, which can only be accessed if you ‘like’ the brand page, includes a search function to filter by medical problem – then displays a list of previously asked questions.

Users can also speak to a pharmacist online, review data on prescriptions or click through to the Walgreens website to reorder.

The use of social media for customer service is predicted to become more significant this year as consumers expect to be able to get a response from brands via Facebook and Twitter.

Econsultancy’s State of Social 2011 report found that more than half of company respondents (52%) said their organisations use Facebook for reacting to customer issues and inquiries compared to only 29% in 2010. 

Similarly, 50% of companies now use Twitter for customer service, compared to only 35% in 2010.

Though many see social customer service as reactive, Walgreens’ Answers tab shows that Facebook can be used to proactively offer customer advice.

In a recent post on social customer service best practice we highlighted how brands should be looking to engage with their fans and followers through social media.

ASOS is highlighted as one company getting this right – the clothing website hosted ‘Style Sessions’ with customers to give them fashion advice.

Walgreen’s approach to social is similar and should generate goodwill towards the brand, as well as increasing its number of Facebook ‘likes’.