SMN Insights: Social Media for Customer Service

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SMN Insights: Social Media for Customer Service

Written by Anneliese Herbosa, Content Manager of The Social Media Network 2013-14.

SMN Insights features the informed thoughts and opinions of our team. We probe the latest news and trends related to social media, marketing, public relations, and the vast digital space.

Social networks serve so much more than marketing and promotional outlets for businesses. In addition to acting as a space for creating hype around a product or service, it allows employees to extend their service and support to customers across their company’s social channels. This week, I sat down with Diana, Mark, and Gerald, to learn about their exposure to exemplary online customer service.

Exhibit A: Translink

Translink is the organization responsible for the regional transportation network of Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, including public transport and major roads and bridges. (Source)

Image courtesy of “Arnold C” via wikimedia (

In addition to getting their commuters from point A to B, TransLink is also known for walking their customers through issues to help resolve them. Diana explains that the nature of queries and issues Translink has to face on a day-to-day basis via social media are in the form of complaints, timing inquiries, as well as all sorts of frustrations surrounding Translink’s transportation services.

They are very timely and will respond to the majority of  tweets from customers. Depending on who’s tweeting, some have a great sense of humour. It can really turn a negative to a positive. (Diana)

They usually receive customer complaints about buses being late, full buses, bad drivers, and all sorts of issues. Diana has observed that Translink tries to help the customer by asking for more information to help them amend the issue by answering the question directly, or pointing them to the right place. If all else fails, they direct the customers to file a formal complaint on their website.

TransLink on Twitter

Exhibit B: Take Five Cafe

Take Five Cafe offers Vancouver coffee lovers a blend of special coffees, other drinks, and gourmet foods. (Source)

Image courtesy of Kevin Kong via

According to Gerald, Take Five Cafe doesn’t just serve up great coffee – they provide great customer service, too! The tone and language they use for their messages on social don’t sound robotic.

It’s like the channels become digital extensions of their coffee shops and a barista has just started chatting with you. (Gerald)

Gerald expanded on his example by drawing from a recent experience he had. Last week, he wanted to drink wine at their Gastown location but wasn’t sure if they were still open. So he took to Twitter and asked if they were still open for the night, and after a quick reply from them, he found himself drinking wine after a late meeting.

Take Five Cafe on Twitter

Exhibit C: HootSuite

HootSuite is the leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks. (Source)

Screencap courtesy of Smurk Creative.

For a social media-oriented company, you would expect nothing short of top-notch customer service from them in the digital space – and according to Mark, they most certainly do.  Together as a team, they have a unified voice rather than a bunch of individual voices. They end their tweets with the specific team members initials to give it a more personalized touch.

They have a greatly trained staff that never loses their cool whenever someone asks the same dumb question for the umpteenth time. (Mark)

The majority of queries that their team has to address are largely technical and repetitive. They have to answer a lot of questions (including very frustrating ones) and they are always sure to respond so fast, with great professionalism.

HootSuite’s help Twitter handle: @HootSuite_Help

Social Media Customer Service Must-Haves

It is clear that timeliness, cohesiveness, and consistency are highly important in upholding a company’s reputation when dealing with customers online. Here are three additional best practices outlined by Diana, Mark, and Gerald:

1. Remember to be human. People will generally appreciate it more if they know there is a person behind the account that is just like us. I usually see people using their initials at the end of tweets to help customers feel connected with a human being rather than just the overall brand.

2. Have a strong training process. Support your Customer Service team by providing them with an easily accessible, comprehensive resource for them to refer to when less severe problems arise.

3. Keep in mind that other people are reading, too. Make sure you can be proud of anything you post on your public social channels.

What’s missing on this list? Can you think of an example when a business addressed one of your issues or concerns via social media? How was your experience?

These are our insights – now we’d like to hear yours. What company or business provides impeccable customer service through their social channels? Make sure to use the hashtag #SMNinsights to weigh in!

Featured Image courtesy of Anomet.
These thoughts are our own and do not represent those of the organization.
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