Guest Column: Staying 'social' with customer service: Anupam Vasudev, CMO, Aircel

Anupam Vasudev, CMO at Aircel, highlights few ideas that can help brands transform their customer service into an amazing customer experience on social media

e4m by Anupam Vasudev
Published: Sep 11, 2017 8:12 AM  | 5 min read

It wasn’t that long ago when customer service was predominantly done in private. Be it in person, telephonic or over an email. The social media wave and an increased penetration of mobile phones have radically transformed the way we interact with each other. Customers are connecting with brands on social media, review sites, discussion boards, and other social forums. We are currently living in the era where the preponderance of customer interactions is more public than private. This not only presents a great challenge but also a golden opportunity for businesses today. A brand’s ability to handle a customer complaint is seen and monitored by thousands and millions of other customers. From being a private affair to a spectator sport, the customer service has become the new marketing tool. 


It is critical to understand or rather accept as a market reality is that technology, mobile and social media has made everybody passive- aggressive. Often brands mistake a customer making a complaint public as a slam on their brand. This very thought process needs to change, here and now. Customers prefer social media because it is convenient for them. Social media sites with open structure have evolved from an alternative channel for customer service to an important channel. Several of the marketing case studies and researchers suggest that typically only 5 per cent of the unhappy customers complain and the rest 95 per cent simply leave! Therefore, brands must value the feedback they receive on social media. Now consider this: If brands are able to take the 5 per cent to 15 per cent, the insights generated from these feedbacks and interactions can help improve business significantly! A customer complaint is indeed a gift and brands can really up their social media customer service game if they start looking at feedbacks a bit differently. 


Jay Baer, a well-known digital marketer and an extremely talented author, recently published “Hug your Haters” that delves deep into how, where, and why customers complain and encourages brands to embrace feedbacks, put haters to work for you, and turn bad news into good outcomes. 


Putting some of the credible global social media statistics into perspective, according to a research conducted by J.D. Power (a global marketing consulting organization), more than 67 per cent of consumers now tap networks like Twitter and Facebook for customer service. Further, Twitter revealed that in the past few years they have seen a growth rate of more than 2.5x in number of tweets directed at leading brands’ customer service usernames and handles. It also reported that the brands are now becoming increasingly active in responding to such tweets. 


Reflecting deep into the above rational facts and social media statistics, here are few ideas that can help brands transform their customer service into an amazing customer experience on social media:


Keep it social, not commercial

Often brands treat social media platforms in an extremely starched manner. The social customer service support should focus towards making their customers feel welcomed and heard on social media. Let go of those polished, and auto generated responses. It might be your platform but make the users feel more empowered by encouraging user-generated content. Social media is all about being more humane and real because how else you expect your customers to know that you care! 


Monitoring helps you deliver superior customer service 

Today a brand is investing deep into developing a robust social media customer service unit. However, getting a single view of their customer is a real business challenge. It is here that social behavior insights generated from digital platforms help the brands to get to the holy grail of their customers. Brands should track and monitor all pertinent category and brand related keywords to know what their ‘reactive and proactive’ response strategy should be. Therefore, all brands must enter the social media with their best ‘analytical’ foot forward.


The response rate mechanism 

On social media, responding to customer needs and feedbacks, at light-speed is quintessential. Not to miss, the nature and tenor of the response are equally central. Global brands are clocking in 15-18 seconds as their average response rate time on key social platforms.


“Handle” it well

Make sure you create a separate customer service “brand handle” to manage complaints and feedbacks. Many brands are now doing this as it splits the general conversations from the serious ones. Nike is a great example of how to manage customer service support on social media. Their @NikeSupport brand handle is widely used by customers to interact with the brand about issues and grievances without impacting their other social media efforts and engagements.


All eyes and ears 

How a brand deals with a customer or rather a harsh feedback on social media should be highly personalized but the golden rule of social media is that the world is watching you, therefore, it becomes essential to let the world know “how” you manage criticism. A brand’s initial response to a complaint should be visible to the public. Do not commit the mistake of inserting a starched response here. The next step is to take the conversation to a private forum as it may require your customer to share confidential information surrounding the issue like their contact or financial details. Once you have successfully resolved the issue, remember to go back to the initial post and express gratitude to the customer for being supportive in fixing the problem.


(The author is Chief Marketing Officer at Aircel)


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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