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8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Public Relations

Maintaining a strong social media presence is non-negotiable for businesses aiming to connect with their customers in real time (and in the right way).  

However, with the countless customer interactions happening on various social media platforms, it’s easy to stumble into common pitfalls that can harm your brand’s reputation.  

To learn more about this phenomenon, we’ll explore common social media customer service pitfalls—and, more importantly, shed light on effective strategies to avoid them.

1. Failing to reply ASAP

In the case of social media marketing vs social selling, users are impatient, and they want businesses to respond to their messages and comments instantly.  

On average, a business takes 28 hours to respond to queries on Facebook, while 85% of customers expect them to respond within six hours. 

There’s an enormous gap in demand and supply here, but one that can be filled by businesses looking to stand out as ones that truly care. 

When businesses don’t promptly respond to customer queries, they hurt their sales and brand reputation. That’s a golden opportunity missed and a big NO in the customer service realm.  

To avoid this mistake, you must:  

  • Use chatbots, social media monitoring tools, and autoresponders to automate and streamline workflows. 
  • Get back to your customers within the first hour of them approaching you. 
  • Give customers a realistic time frame for a response and stick to it. 
  • If you don’t know immediately, assure them you’ll get back to them. 
  • Dedicate a team or a person to handle all social media queries. 
  • Guarantee a follow-up of some format (email or phone call). 
  • Respond to all comments and messages. 
  • Use a single platform for communication.

2. Not following up with customers

The last thing customers want is to be left hanging after they reach out with a problem. When you never follow up with your customers, it leaves a negative impression on your business.  

If you leave your customers unhappy, they may never do business with you again, and even leave negative reviews on social media for others to see. This dreaded scenario can negatively impact your sales and call for a PR crisis. You can, however, turn this crisis into an opportunity by: 

  • Actively listening to their complaints and letting them know how you can be of service. 
  • If necessary, apologize publicly and not make the customer look bad. 
  • Personalize your responses ‌using a friendly tone of voice. 
  • Sincerely apologize without sounding condescending. 
  • Never tell the customer they’re wrong. 

If you’re unsure how to get it right, this example will show you the way. Spotify is known for its excellent customer service, and one reason people are loyal to this brand is because they truly care.  

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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They know how to swiftly handle a customer complaint, send a follow-up, and cater to their needs.

3. Ignoring customer feedback

Not every customer who buys from you will have a positive experience with you. Some of them will have a negative experience, and that’s a given. 

Similarly, not every customer will leave positive feedback on your social media channels.  

You’ll get plenty of negative comments and feedback, and that’s completely okay as long as you don’t ignore it. 

Deleting or ignoring negative feedback is detrimental to your business and brand image. 

Even if you remove negative reviews or comments, the reputation of your business remains, so seize this opportunity to transform angry customers into loyal ones. 

Here’s what you can do instead: 

  • Take it offline if need be. Not all matters need to be resolved publicly (more on this later). 
  • If you can’t handle the issue, refer to the right department or person. 
  • Learn from the experience and do better next time. 
  • Personalize your response and offer a solution. 
  • Say sorry and truly mean it. 

National Trust South East in the UK once had a customer who took to Twitter to complain about a sad-looking sandwich despite paying a premium price for it.  

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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The brand’s customer care team immediately responded to the customer’s feedback and offered a freebie to make up for the ‘uninspiring’ sandwich. They also apologized, which is a no-brainer any day.  

And that’s how you turn angry customers into raving fans. 

4. Not saying sorry

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. So, rightfully, they deserve exceptional service. However, if you fail to do so, remember that it’s not the end of the world.  

You can always mend your ways by reaching out to unhappy customers and offering them an apology along with a freebie or discount to make up for the mistake. 

If your customer service team doesn’t apologize, it could backfire ‌and offend customers even more.  

Even in situations where you don’t believe it’s your fault, it’s essential to set aside your ego. As a representative of the organization, you must provide customers with the best solutions to their queries.  

Believe it or not, saying “I’m sorry” goes a long way and saves your business from PR disasters. Once you say sorry, make sure you truly mean it and hit the mark, too.  

In 2015, Taylor Swift boycotted Apple when they didn’t pay artists for music their customers played during the free trial period. 

Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, took to Twitter to make things right and assure Taylor and other indie artists that Apple heard and valued them. 

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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He even stated that Apple would pay artists for their music during free trial periods. 

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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You don’t always have to apologize to show you’re sorry. Sometimes, changed behavior is the best apology, and Apple surely knows how to do it right.

5. Communicating like a bot

It’s a routine process for businesses to use chatbots and autoresponders to send out robotic responses, but at times, all a customer wants is for a human to listen to them and offer a genuine, personalized response that isn’t generated by a bot.  

Many large businesses fail to provide a human touch to customers, and this is where they go wrong. AT&T is a prime example of how not to send automated responses to angry customers. 

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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This simple mistake could cause reputational damage. In situations like these, humans need to intervene to fix things quickly and amicably when chatbots can’t resolve complex issues. 

6. Ignoring data to up your game

The more you rely on data, the better. And the less you pay attention, the more it can go wrong.  

Another big mistake businesses make is failing to evaluate how well their social media customer support works.  

If you don’t track and analyze your data, you won’t know what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve. To avoid messing things up, make sure you have clear goals and measurable targets for your social media customer service.  

This could include factors like:  

  • How happy your customers are with your service 
  • How quickly you respond to customers 
  • How often do you fix customer issues 
  • How many customers do you keep 
  • How loyal your customers are  

By using Facebook Messenger, you can check your average response time and make improvements to better serve customers. 

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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You may even use polls, customer satisfaction surveys, feedback forms, analytics, and reports to gather and regularly monitor your data. 

7. Addressing all complaints publicly

It’s unnecessary to publicly respond to every complaint, even if it’s posted on social media or if you have a large social media presence.

Remind your customer support team to put your brand name first and learn when to take things offline. Sometimes, they may have to ask for private information or tackle a confidential issue where it’d be best to do it offline.  

Best Buy Support’s customer interaction on Twitter is a brilliant example of how to take matters offline.  

8 common social media customer service pitfalls and how to avoid them

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Other times, avoid lengthy back-and-forth communication with users in the comments section. This scenario could take up a lot of space, bring more negative feedback, and distract other customers from more important content.  

To avoid this mistake, know when to take conversations on more private channels like direct messages, email, or phone calls. Taking this course of action could also help you address a customer issue in real time and ensure a timely response.  

So, when in doubt, explain to your customer service reps why it’s important and follow up in the mentioned time frame. It’s worth the extra effort. 

8. Too much talk, not enough action

Excellent customer service is necessary for customer retention and acquisition.  

You need to know that not everyone is approaching your business in the DMs or comments with a complaint. Sometimes, there’s a customer inquiry waiting for you.  

Often, customer questions revolve around “if you make a certain type of product” or if there’s a slight chance of getting an item that says “sold out” on your website. 

When you claim to be a people-first business, your actions must back your words. And this is where most businesses fail to deliver. 

Businesses often fail to effectively integrate their sales pipeline with their social media and customer service strategy, leading to missed opportunities for upsells or further engagement. 

By ensuring that your social media team is well-versed with the nuances of your sales pipeline, you can seamlessly transition customers from a service interaction to exploring more of what your business offers, thus optimizing both service quality and revenue potential. 

Wrapping up

If you provide top-notch customer service on social channels, your brand will become well-known and attract more loyal customers. 

However, dealing with all customer requests and public comments on social platforms is a big job that needs to be handled efficiently. 

If you nail it, then it can pave your way to building excellent relationships with your customers, but if you fail at this task, then it can bring bad PR.  

To avoid such mistakes on your social networks, take steps now to streamline your processes and monitor media mentions today. 

Khaulah Ahmed
Khaulah Ahmed is a freelance content writer. She specializes in writing about marketing, ecommerce, and entrepreneurship. Outside of work, she spends time reading books, binging on Netflix, and exploring different dine-out places in her hometown. You can reach out to her at: linkedin.com/in/khaulah-ahmed/

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