As a small business considering your options for online marketing, I’m sure you’ve seen the myriad recommendations for social media marketing. However, most of those plans and recommendations focus on promotional use of social media marketing. Social media allows for immediate, two-way interaction between a business and their customers and/or potential customers. Even if you don’t intend to use your social media outlets for customer service, once you set up and start using your accounts, your customers will attempt to contact you through those channels. So, you need to be prepared to respond.

Munchos Bag Customer Service Guaranteed FreshA recent experience I had with a national brand highlighted the fact to me that even large companies, who have staff dedicated to managing their social media accounts, still don’t understand how their customers want to interact with them on social media. I purchased a bag of Munchos as a snack and didn’t open them until after I had left the store. When I did open them, I saw that the chips were inedible, having clumped all together in a conglomeration of grease and potato. I looked on the back of the bag and was pleased to see that the chips were “GUARANTEED FRESH” and if I was dissatisfied with my purchase, all I had to do was call their 800 number. In smaller text, under the number, the message explained that I should call the number between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm central time. Since this incident happened outside of the customer service phone number operating hours, I used my phone for a different purpose. I took a picture of one of the offending clumps of potato mess and sent the tweet below.

I didn’t receive a response until the next morning (at 9:23am on a weekday – during regular business hours), which wasn’t totally unexpected, but instead of offering to help resolve the problem, they directed me back to the original customer service number.

This was frustrating to me, because I already knew I could call the number. What I really wanted was for them to help me get another bag of chips. I still haven’t called the number, because I also have to work during regular business hours. Instead, I sent back a snarky reply, which wasn’t the most mature way to respond, but frustrated customers occasionally behave immaturely.

So, if you have a social media account, does that mean you have to respond immediately to all complaints and be available 24 hours a day? Absolutely not! Social Media Never Sleeps, but you can, as long as you have a good plan in place to address complaints and see them through to resolution. You probably don’t have the staff available to monitor your social media accounts full-time, but if you decide to use social media for promotion you need to make sure that you are ready to handle the direct communication you will receive.

Here are some great articles from our social media team on how to handle your social media account.

Customer Service on Social Media



What do you think? Have you had any good or bad experiences with using social media for customer service, either as a business or as a customer? I’d love to hear your stories.