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How to Overcome Common Social Customer Service Mistakes: Q&A with Ashley Verrill

There are many best practices or measures your company should take when it comes to providing stellar social customer service. Listening for brand mentions and establishing response and measurement strategies are good places to start. But how about the things you shouldn’t do?

In this recent article by Ashley Verrill, who provides research on social CRM products and trends for Software Advice, we read about big companies that are still committing basic social customer service faux pas. In our Q&A with her below, we talk about a few of these common mistakes and how they can be avoided. Five9 SoCoCare: Why is it so common for big brands to take multiple hours to respond, or worse - not respond at all? Are they simply overwhelmed by incoming social traffic, or is there a bigger issue at play? Ashley: Organizations of all sizes don’t respond in a timely manner - or fail to respond altogether - to social customer service inquiries for two main reasons. First, as you mentioned, some companies receive thousands of mentions a day; they simply don’t have a defined process for finding and triaging them efficiently. They miss the desperate cries for help because they don’t have a system that helps them organize different types of traffic. Many social CRM solutions offer automatic prioritization, which lets you assign rules or policies to detect certain kinds of posts and group together. A company can use prioritization tools in tandem with sentiment technology to create a group for “angry” users. This would help you notice and respond to social media mentions that should probably receive immediate attention. The other reason many businesses fail to respond to social customer service requests is that they don’t have a way to catch all mentions of their brand. Social media teams often only monitor for “@-mentions,” or mentions of the brand using the official brand handle or tag. You should also be monitoring for hashtagged brand mentions or non-tagged messages that include reference to your company. Not only do you have a better opportunity to proactively please a customer by responding to non-tagged brand mentions, but many users expect you to find their problem regardless of whether it’s tagged or not. Five9 SoCoCare: Are there certain customer service messages you’d recommend automating to free up support staff to solve more “high-priority” issues? Ashley: Automated replies can be helpful and certainly have a place in Social CRM, but there are rules for its use. You should employ automatic replies only when providing informative, pre-approved responses to questions that are frequently asked. Being informative is key with using this functionality. Additional information that a user would find helpful could be contact information for someone that can resolve their issue or a link to an FAQ page with a detailed description of a solution. However, I commonly see companies misusing automatic response with robotic messages that fail to address the question. For example, in a recent study I did which tested social customer service of big brands on Twitter, Bank of America and Wells Fargo often delivered uninformative, robotic replies to queries about switching banks. First of all, messages with clear potential to win or lose business should not receive automated responses. But as a general rule for multiple types of queries, the goal to keep in mind is to make sure you’re adding value while directly addressing the query. Five9 SoCoCare: What is a common social customer service mistake that takes the least trouble to correct?

Ashley: Quite simply, the most common mistake with an easy cure is forgetting to brag. Make sure you are retweeting your users’ pleas for help, along with your company’s response. This not only showcases the competency of your social customer service team, but it also provides proactive service to users who might be experiencing the same issue or wondering the same thing. MasterCard demonstrated how this can be done, when they retweeted a direct, helpful answer they gave to one of the participants in my social customer service study.

If your response highlights your product or service’s value and/or provides information to commonly asked questions, you should definitely make sure to show off your helpfulness.


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