How Social Media is Changing the Customer Service Game

I love to cook. After a long week of client meetings, pitch writing, and media outreach; there is nothing better (in my mind) than coming home with a bag full of groceries and cooking a delicious meal.

I also love social media. As a millenial, it’s practically hard-wired into my system to cherish the instant-gratification nature of social platforms.

A couple weeks ago I came home, groceries in hand, ready to tackle Bon Appetit’s Spanakopita Pie — only to realize MY FROZEN PHYLLO DOUGH WAS MOLDY. Guess where I turned to? Instagram. I took a picture of my depressing blue and purple phyllo dough and shared it on my Insta story. Shortly after, I also drafted a nice, but firm, email to Whole Foods customer service explaining my situation (yes, the Whole Foods was only 4 blocks away, but it was raining outside and have you SEEN the lines there on a Friday afternoon?).

24 hours later – nothing. I was spanakopita-less and angry, so what did I do next? Took my battle to Twitter. I DM-ed @WholeFoodsMarket pictures of my moldy phyllo, and less than an hour later, I had a response from them. Within 24 hours, the situation was resolved, I had my refund, and Whole Foods had even given me a gift card for my feedback. 

How is it possible that out of Whole Foods’ 4.84 million followers my lowly DM had received a response already? Because social media is the new customer service platform.

Half of the battle for good customer service is responsiveness, and social media – Twitter especially – is inherently designed for this type of touch-and-go contact that consumers crave. Major corporations, such as Whole Foods, have enormous teams dedicated to monitoring their various social media handles around the clock – and although their platforms might not be solely dedicated to customer service (though that is a thing), they are dedicated to establishing an engaging and active presence on the particular platform. As a result, genuine customer service inquiries seem to get responses much faster than the dedicated customer-service email distros.

This notion of reception and responsiveness is also incredibly valuable on the PR side as well. I work with several clients’ Twitter handles at SpeakerBox, and much like with customer service, responsiveness is key to increasing their social media presence. In addition to liking and responding to comments, I have also found myself, like @WholeFoodMarket did for me, acting as a “switch board” for users. For example, even if I don’t know when the agenda for Event XX will go live, the onus is still on me to direct the person asking about it to someone who does have the answer.

Engagement is also important when managing social media interactions with the press. Whether it’s reinforcing relationships with reporters by re-tweeting their posts, or promoting an article they’ve written on my client – engagement helps build strong relationships.

At the end of the day, people want to be heard, and social media seems to be the platform where they’re speaking up. Whether it’s a reporter driving traffic to an article they’ve written, a user inquiring about information on an upcoming event, or a consumer demanding a refund for their moldy phyllo dough – responsiveness is key.

Let’s talk.