Avoid These 5 Social Media Customer Service Blunders

Customer service, especially on social media, is an art form. Learn how to craft the perfect response in any social situation by avoiding these five common mistakes.


Social media can be a tricky beast. On one hand, it’s an open forum where customers can easily access information about your store and reach out to ask questions or voice their concerns. On the other hand, it’s an open forum where anyone can easily see how you, as a merchant, cultivate an online personality and interact with your customers. The bottom line: it’s extremely important to put your best foot forward in all social media correspondence.

To help you find the best of both worlds, check out how to avoid these five common social media customer service blunders.


1. Getting defensive

Since upset customers aren’t dealing with a “real person” when they come to make a complaint on one of your social profiles, it’s easier for them to openly vent, say nasty things about you personally or slam your products. While this may be unfair (and hey, it might hurt your feelings!) the most important thing you can do is to keep your cool and respond in a professional, polite manner. Getting defensive or reactionary will only serve to make your store – and you – look unprofessional. If you’re feeling angry, take a step back from the computer and breathe. Return to your keyboard and answer the complaint in a fair, positive fashion once you’ve had some time to calm down.


2. Typos, grammatical errors and misspelling

Nobody’s perfect. Everyone, even social media professionals, makes silly typos every once in a while. It happens! But it will happen less if you proofread, proofread, proofread. Customers want to feel like they can trust their online retail suppliers, and part of that trust is intellectual.  A response riddled with typos and mistakes – “Hi mr Jones, you’re shippment should b ready by weds Jan. 18” is not very authoritative, professional or even readable! Pay special attention to who you’re talking to, as well. Mr. Jones might not be very appreciative of your response if his name is actually Mr. Johns and you misread his Facebook comment. Or if you misspell his Twitter handle, he might never realize you attempted to respond to him at all.


3. Providing a link with no other input

Customers feel cared for when you add a personal touch. If someone asks a question that’s easily answerable, for example about your shipping policies, it’s certainly appealing to simply paste a link to your shipping page right there in the Facebook comments or just plop a naked link into a response Tweet. It only takes a couple extra seconds to personalize it – “Hi Mr. Jones, you can find our shipping policies at www.myvolusionstore.com/shipping/. Thanks for asking!” and that human-to-human connection can make all the difference the next time Mr. Jones is trying to decide where to shop online.


4. Not staying on top of your social game

If a Facebook post is “liked” in a forest and nobody is around to see it, was it ever really “liked” at all? In other words, there’s no point in having a social presence if you don’t update and monitor it! Follow this handy dandy checklist to keep on top of your social presence:

  • Incorporate checking your social networks into your online maintenance routine. Twice a day (in the morning and again in the evening), quickly browse your store’s social profiles and notifications to make sure you aren’t missing a customer inquiry.
  • If you need an extra nudge to remember your social networks, change your settings to get notifications pushed to your email. Every time someone Tweets at you or comments on your Facebook page, you can get the announcement right in your inbox.
  • Once a week, skim some of the top social media resources (Mashable is a great place to start) to see if there are any major developments in your networks you should be aware of.
  • Maintain your store information. Any time you change your customer support contact phone numbers, links or email addresses, make sure to update all of your social channels.

You don’t have to spend hours poring over every aspect of the social media world, but prioritizing the maintenance of your social profiles will pay off in the long run, for both your store and your customers.


5. Avoiding the chance to take a conversation offline

As valuable and accessible as social media is, it’s not always the most efficient communication channel. If a customer has a complicated question about your store or product, sometimes the most efficient way to address the issue is to go old school. If a complex customer service situation arises, don’t be afraid to request a customer’s personal contact information (ask them to send you a private Facebook message or a Direct Message on Twitter, to preserve their privacy) and contact them directly through email or maybe even the phone. (Remember when we used to use our phones to talk to people rather than send funny texts and play Angry Birds?) Taking the extra steps to ensure you have fully met your customers’ concerns will make a lasting positive impression of your store and prove your dedication and trustworthiness as a merchant.


What it comes down to is this: social media is ever-changing, but positivity, politeness, attention to detail and caring for your customers will never go out of style. By keeping these five points in mind, you’ll be ready to tackle even the most prickly situations on social media.

Happy selling!
-Emily Teachout, Volusion


Emily Teachout was a Social Media writer and professional. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Communications and a specialization in Technology & Society, and has managed social media campaigns for brands across multiple industries. In her spare time, Emily blogs about Austin’s culinary and entertainment scenes – in fact, she attends over 100 concerts per year.

One Response to “Avoid These 5 Social Media Customer Service Blunders”

  1. petehunt

    Ive just had a read through these 5 points about social media and i must say its right on the money and i enjoyed reading it.
    (ignore the typos ha)


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