This week, #bufferchat was all about how to keep your customers through awesome social media customer support. Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters and founder of Convince & Convert, stopped by the chat to share his strategies for providing top-notch social customer care! We discussed our top tips for responding to unhappy customers, how to turn customer service into customer loyalty, the right metrics to track to evaluate the success of your customer support, and much more.

Read on to discover all of the awesome ideas and insights that were shared during the chat!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEDT (Sydney time)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (San Francisco time)

Bufferchat on Nov 30, 2016: How to Keep Your Customers (with guest Jay Baer)

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 75 participants; 223 tweets; reach of 940,199
2nd Bufferchat: 279 participants; 1,765 tweets; reach of 1,754,752

Q1: Should a company provide support on as many social channels as possible, or a select few, and why?

From Jay:

  • We must provide support in the channels our CUSTOMERS prefer, not the channels WE prefer.
  • My team & I advise to be in all channels where you can provide great support. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it.
  • And if you are going to be active in a channel for marketing but NOT for #customerservice make that clear in your bio.

From the community:

  • “If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to no one. Applicable here. Prioritize.” @MollyKoernke
  • “As many as you can handle. Customers need to know where they can reach you & get the answers they need.” @TheWorldWatches
  • “Getting no response on a support channel is worse than not having that support channel at all. IMHO.” @Traci_Poole
  • “Providing support on too many channels can be confusing to the customer. Go where your customer is and be awesome there.” @SheffieCochran
  • “If customers/followers are asking questions on a social network, you should respond accordingly. That’s the point of social.” @MichaelAltiero

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What metrics are key to look at when evaluating your customer service on social media?

From Jay:

  • I covered this in Hug Your Haters ($15 now on Amazon!). Most #customerservice metrics suck because they measure volume.
  • My favorite #customerservice metric is “effort score” : On a scale of 1-100 how hard was it to get the help you needed?
  • And of course, the best measure is to track $$$ and advocacy after a customer service interaction.
  • I also look at response time, but not in a vaccum. A fast, crappy reply isn’t really the desired outcome!

From the community:

  • “My favorite metric – unsolicited kudos and thanks. These are the clearest measure that you are doing something special!!!” @STEVMLR
  • “Ratings & positive keywords/phrases are top. Ideally, the user seems satisfied before, during, and after the interaction.” @laura_bauman
  • “Speed of response but also, number of touches to resolve the issue.” @vincenzolandino
  • “Did your customer service lead to brand advocacy or further public complaints? Measure whether they’re happy or upset w/ you.” @MktgInnovator
  • “Response time, satisfaction, and if you can track it, seeing if they talk about their support later on.” @J_Rouser

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What are 1-3 rules for handling social customer service well?

From Jay:

  • My #1 social #customerservice rule is BEET: Be Empathetic Every Time
  • Also, never reply more than twice in public. Two exchanges, then take it to DM, email, phone.
  • Never channel shift on first reply. When you tweet “sorry, please call us at…” and the person already called…uh oh.

From the community:

  • “The customer is not always right; make them believe they are.” @Toby_Metcalf
  • “Listen to understand, don’t just listen to respond.” @rightlymktg
  • “Key for me is being as tailored as possible with responses, I hate getting a standard reply. Show some empathy too!” @mike_mcgrail
  • “Also, quick, thoughtful, thorough responses win praise and customers even if they don’t like the answer.” @allennieman
  • “My biggest rule is to stay positive, always. Even at your most frustrated. Response time is important as well.” @thesarahmould

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: In your opinion, is there a particular aspect of customer service on social media that many companies could improve upon?

From Jay:

  • #1 issue w/ social #customerservice is that most companies undervalue & under-resource it. Phone/email still often rule.
  • I agree w/ that running away from negativity is an issue too. We should run toward complaints. Praise is OVERRATED!
  • Customers who have a positive service experience buy MORE & are more loyal than those who never have a problem.

From the community:

  • “They need to remember to be human. There are too many cut and paste corporate answers used on social media.” @DewiEirig
  • “I see a lot of companies that have quick response times on social, but they never tend to follow-up.” @NatashaWest_
  • “I’d have to say being more personable. Use a first name, it’s okay to address your customer to make them feel welcomed.” @_Jason_Michael
  • “Multi-Language support for customer service. does an excellent job there.” @iAshishPrasad
  • “People do not like repeating themselves. It’s important to pick up where they left off when providing support.” @Wilde_Agency

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What’s the best way to turn customer service into customer loyalty?

From Jay:

  • Research in Hug Your Haters says #1 criteria for satisfaction in customer service is SPEED. (why self-service can be great)
  • It surprised me, but the data says speed is more important than politeness, friendliness, and even accuracy.

From the community:

  • “Make your customers your heroes! Let them tell their stories. Admire them and make them the center of your business.” @ChrisThames29
  • “Be open to customer feedback & improve services accordingly. If customers know you listen and care, they’ll be loyal.” @milestech
  • “Consistent and helpful answers to questions. Going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.” @JessOB1kenobi
  • “Make me feel like I matter and that I’m being heard. Solve my problem and be genuine. I’m sticking around!” @Chris_Keller
  • “Don’t let the service be one and done – keep up with people, build the relationship. Learn WHY they’re customers – nurture that.” @LUCYrk78

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: What’s your #1 tip for dealing with unhappy customers?

From Jay:

  • Download “13 Words You Never Use When Replying to a Customer.” New stuff, not in my book.
  • Let’s remember that increasingly, customer service is a spectator sport. People are watching how you handle your business.
  • Do. Not. Take. It. Personally. When we confront negativity, our brain chemistry actually changes. Take a breath, be calm.
  • Remember there is no such thing as a “bad customer” just a difficult situation.
  • Also track & analyze what people complain about. Smoke = fire. Only 5 out of 100 unhappy customers complain so pay attention.

From the community:

  • “Don’t lose hope. Unhappy customers often just want to be heard. You can turn them into advocates with care.” @RivalIQ
  • “Listen to where the true problem lies. How has the problem with the brand impacted them negatively?” @ideabloke
  • “Empathy and authenticity. Be real …and be sorry. Reflect the problem back to show you listened and that you care.” @jesswlms
  • “Behind every anger, there is an unmet need. Get to the core – find the need, don’t take the anger personally.” @D2MediaSLN
  • “LISTEN and validate their issue. Don’t get defensive. It’s not about you, it’s about the problem.” @rmacklinrecruit

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: Do you think customer support on social media will change in any way in the future? If so, how?

From Jay:

  • Massive changes coming via use of bots and apps to handle routine service queries, and self-service via communities/forums.
  • Also look for continued proliferation of vertically-specific ratings/reviews sites. VERY important 4 reputation/retention.
  • And, we’re going to see a lot more use of video in #customerservice. See what did with FB Live during crisis.

From the community:

  • “Would love to see VIDEO used. Great way to humanize the brand & the #CustomerService process!!!” @CardozaGab
  • “I have a feeling more #AI will occupy the customer support space, but I’m still unconvinced of its effectiveness there.” @ideabloke
  • “It will NEED to if businesses want to survive because more and more people are reading what others are saying about them.” @pjervis
  • “I also think live video sessions will increase, making it easier to get answers to ‘unaskable’ questions.” @Dhaar_mhie
  • “Traditional #CustServ is dead. To survive, brands have to focus on customers, their journey and enhance their experience.” @SueDuris

See all the great answers to question 7 here!


Thank you so much to Jay for taking the time to share so many awesome insights, and to everyone who participated in this chat!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!

  • Alex Henry

    Great job! Do you outline all of your blog posts? I’ve read a few of them now and they are way higher quality than other blogs I’ve read.