How important is customer service via social media?
According to J.D. Power, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for customer service.
And when they do, they expect a fast response. Research cited by Jay Baer tells us that 42% of consumers expect a response with 60 minutes.
So, how’s your social media customer service?
For this post I was excited to research a set of 14 amazing examples of customer service using social media.
Let’s get started!
1. Samsung: A Unicycling Kangaroo and a Dragon Phone
As a loyal Samsung customer, Canadian Shane Bennett asked for a free unit of their latest, soon-to-launch phone. To sweeten his offer, he included a drawing of a roaring dragon.
Not surprisingly, Samsung said “no”. But to say thanks, they sent him their drawing of a unicycle-riding kangaroo.
Shane then shared both messages (and drawings) to Reddit where it went viral. In response, Samsung Canada sent him the phone he asked for – and customized it with his fire-breathing dragon artwork.
Takeaway: Have fun with customer interactions. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
2. Morton’s Steakhouse: Airport Delivery
While waiting for takeoff in Tampa, Florida, Peter Shankman jokingly asked Morton’s Steakhouse to deliver a porterhouse steak when he landed at Newark airport.
While departing the Newark airport to meet his driver, he was greeted by a Morton’s server with a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, shrimp, potatoes, bread – the works. A full meal and no bill.
When you think of the logistics of pulling this off, it becomes even more impressive. The Community Manager needed to get approval and place the order. It needed to be prepared and then driven by the server to the airport, to the correct location and at the right time. All in less than three hours.
Some of the comments on Peter’s post suggest that this isn’t an anomaly. Another reader shares his experience of ordering a baked potato and getting a full steak meal – delivered and for free.
Takeaway: Do something unexpected for a loyal customer – when they want it most.
3. Gaylord Opryland: Sleep-Inducing Clock Radio
After numerous stays at Nashville’s Opryland Resort, Christina McMenemy wanted her own spa-sound clock radio that comes standard in each room. The sound helped her sleep better than ever, and she couldn’t find that model anywhere. So she asked the hotel for help finding it.
Turns out, that model was exclusive to the Gaylord hotels. She thought that was the end of it, and went to her conference.
Upon returning to her room that evening, she found a gift waiting: the spa clock and a handwritten card. The staff had given her the product she was unable to find. Not only did they make a long term customer very happy, they also received significant media coverage for their act of kindness.
Takeaway: Make customers happy one at a time.
A quick note on these first three examples
While it’s great to give away phones, steak dinners, and clock radios, this might not be sustainable customer service.
Why not? When other, loyal customers hear what these companies did, they might expect the same treatment. Can Morton’s deliver a free steak dinner to the airport for every customer who asks? Can Gaylord hotels give every loyal guest a free clock radio?
A more sustainable approach is to provide outstanding customer service on a daily basis. These next examples have lessons that can be implemented right away and on a consistent basis.
4. JetBlue: Feeling the Customer’s Pain
During a four-hour flight, Esaí Vélez’s seatback TV gave him nothing but static – while the rest of the passengers had normally functioning screens. How did he respond? He tweeted a complaint to JetBlue. Nothing inflammatory, but he was clearly disappointed.
How did JetBlue respond? While they could have made an excuse or even ignored his tweet, they didn’t. They took his side and empathized with him.
“Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear! Are all the TVs out on the plane or is it just yours?”
After he confirms that it was just his TV that was out, they respond:
“We always hate it when that happens. Send us a DM with your confirmation code to get you a credit for the non-working TV.”
Not only do they imagine his frustration, but they also offer him a credit for his trouble.
Takeaway: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes when responding to complaints.
5. Delta Hotels: Room With an Ugly View
While attending the #PSEWEB conference in Vancouver, Mike McCready tweeted that, while he liked his room at the Delta, the view wasn’t so nice. He didn’t tag the hotel, and he wasn’t asking for anything.
Within an hour, Delta responded – offering a room with a better view. And when Mike returned to his room after the conference, he found a dish of sweets and a handwritten card from the staff at his hotel. It made such an impact that he wrote a post about it – the very same day.
Takeaway: Set up a social listening strategy to listen to all customer conversations.
6. Waterstones: Man Locked in London Bookstore
While every customer comment is important, some are going to be a little more urgent than others. Like locking a customer in your store.
This happened to David Willis last year at Waterstones Trafalgar Square store. He tweeted:
Not surprisingly, this tweet went viral, with 16,000+ retweets and 12,000+ likes. Because someone was monitoring Waterstones Twitter account, they were able to tweet 80 minutes later that they had freed their previously captive customer. Imagine how this could have turned out, if Waterstones customer service had stopped listening for the day.
Takeaway: Always listen to customer conversations.
7. Contextly: Customer Onboarding
Before I do business with a new company, I like to see if anyone is listening. It gives me confidence that they’ll be there if I have a problem or question.
When I was looking for a premium related-content service, I signed up for a free trial account with Contextly. The process was smooth, and I was excited about the app, so I tweeted about it. They responded with a positive, helpful tweet.
As a result, I’m confident that they are interested in me and will help me if I have a question with the app.
Takeaway: Use social media to streamline customer onboarding.
8. Xbox Support: Elite Tweet Fleet
Back in 2010, Xbox added a dedicated Twitter account. Since then, their Elite Tweet Fleet has posted more than two million support tweets. In fact, when I visited their account page, they were averaging two tweets per minute! And they have a team of 27 support experts.
Any company that assigns a dedicated Twitter account (and 27 people to manage it) is amazing to me. Check out some of their interactions:
- The support team addressed an issue with a user and then initiated a follow-up message nine days later. This is outstanding, given the volume of users they interact with on an hourly basis.
- This user tweeted a thank-you message about a replacement Xbox.
- One follower tweeted a custom greeting card, entitled: “To my good friends: Xbox.”
Takeaway: Be committed to your social media customer service.
9. Nike: Respond Kindly to Confused Customers
Nike Support is one of the strongest customer service accounts on Twitter. They feature a dedicated Twitter account, support seven days a week and in seven languages (English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, German & Japanese.)
An example of their approach is here in this customer interaction: A customer contacts them to ask for help finding an order number. Although the question was unclear Nike’s customer support made the customer feel cared for. And when the customer realized they had the information all along, their response is super supportive.
Takeaway: Be kind, even when it’s not your fault.
10. Seamless: Pay Attention to Every Comment
Seamless is an online service for ordering food from local restaurants. Food orders are full of variables and when you add in time frame and delivery – it has the potential to be a nightmare. To manage customer service, they have an active Twitter account where customers can share their love and voice their complaints.
In a recent comment, a customer tells Seamless that on his recent order he received white rice, instead of brown. He wasn’t upset – he said: “Don’t mind terribly, just FYI.”
In response, Seamless asks for the order number so they can check into it. In response, the customer tweets:
Takeaway: Pay attention to all customer service issues. Passive complaints that are left unaddressed can easily cause a rift between the vendor and customer.
11. My Starbucks Idea: Listen and Harvest Ideas
As a way to listen to customers – and get tons of great new ideas – Starbucks created My Starbucks Idea. To date, customers have submitted more than 210,000 unique ideas. To support this program, they have a dedicated Twitter account. It is a great place for users to share their observations and coffee wishes.
Takeaway: Make it easy for customers to tell you what they want. Listen to everyone and implement the winning ideas.
12. Sainsburys: Fishy Exchange
Sainsbury’s is one of the largest supermarkets in the UK. They’ve got a pretty active Twitter feed with lots of customer questions about products and sale prices. The tone of the account is helpful and positive.
There are lots of good examples of interactions. But none better than Fishy Sainsburys. This fishy exchange took place over a three hour period, between David (Sainsbury’s Twitter manager) and Marty (a customer). The puns will make you groan – many made me laugh out loud. Remember, this interaction was not a marketing play but a real conversation between the company and a customer.
Takeaway: Let your customer service team have fun.
13. Hubspot: Every Day of the Year
Holidays can be challenging times for customer service. When customer service closes for the observance of a holiday in one country, users from other countries will still have questions.
This recently happened with a HubSpot customer in London. She had workflow issues and couldn’t contact anyone at the US-based call center because it was closed for American Thanksgiving. When she took her concern to Twitter, she found a customer service representative in Ireland.
Like many companies in this list, HubSpot has a dedicated customer service Twitter account. To manage international schedules and time zones, they have two Dublin-based representatives and another three in Cambridge, MA.
Takeaway: Be available for your customers.
14. Buffer: Personal and Kind
If you take a quick look at Buffer’s Tweets & replies feed you’ll see how engaging their customer service is. Responses are personal and friendly. And they are usually signed by the team member you’re chatting with.
For example, my wife has been impressed that when she mentions them in a tweet, they acknowledge it, even using her name in their response.
Takeaway: Treat each person with respect. Use your name (and theirs) when interacting with customers online.
What we can learn from these customer service examples
Here are some key takeaways:
- Choose a primary channel for customer service (many use Twitter) and assign staff to manage it.
- Decide on your schedule of availability (set hours and days) and post it on your profile.
- Have each tweet/post signed by the person who sent it. This is done well by Xbox Support, Sainsbury’s, and Buffer.
- Remember that customers might contact you any number of ways – not necessarily on the channel you chose. Make sure you monitor other social channels for questions and conversations about your brand.
- Establish a tone for your social media conversations. Generally speaking, you’ll want first to empathize with your customers problem. Stephen Covey said it best: “Seek first to understand…”
I recommend following a few of these companies on Twitter. Watch how they handle customer complaints and comments. I’ve learned so much doing this.
What to do next: Review these points with your customer service team. Decide which apply to your business right now and assign a team member to implement them.
Over to you
Have you had an amazing customer service experience via social media? How are you using social media to provide customer service? I would love to hear both in the comments!