7 common social customer service pain points and how to resolve them

by • February 7, 2017 • BlogComments (0)2834

Social media is quickly becoming the channel of choice for consumers who want fast and efficient customer service. It’s not just for the big-name brands.  If your customers are on social media, you need to be there to support them and engage them. If you are just starting out or are looking to make improvements to how you manage social media for customer care here are a few of the common pain points you’ll come across and some practical advice for resolving them.

#1  Customers expect fast response times

If your company has a social presence customers expect you to be able to able to support them when they ask for assistance with a query or a problem.  However thinkJar  research showed that over half customer service requests made on social media are not answered.  If you aren’t set up to respond quickly you risk losing loyal customers.

70% of consumers expect a response on social media within 15 minutes (BT, Avaya)


  • Consolidate your social channels into a single app where agents have a single stream view of incoming messages and comments and can more easily prioritise when volumes are high.
  • Make sure you monitoring outside of @handles. If you don’t know about a comment it will never be answered.
  • Use smart automations to filter out noise and make it easier for agents to quickly work through the messages.
  • Last agent routing – enables customers to talk to the same agent if they need to revisit an issue, and saves them having to repeat the same information over and over.
#2  Adapting to the rapid pace of change

The age of social customer service means continued change and innovation. New channels are constantly appearing and it can be challenge to stay on top. Messaging apps and chat bots are becoming a more familiar part of the customer service landscape.  This constant change creates an opportunity for your brand to engage with consumers in-the-moment and create meaningful interactions which build brand loyalty and trust.  It also means you must be prepared to flex and adapt to include the latest and greatest new channels and tools.


  • Future-proof your social customer service strategy – invest in scalable technology which can cope with increases in volume and new channels
  • Listen out for mentions and tags about your company to understand more about how your customers and prospects view your brand
  • Ask your customers for feedback. The Twitter CSAT survey enables businesses to ask for feedback after an interaction to gauge their performance and identify any key new trends.
#3  The need to reduce the cost to serve

Every business wants to minimise costs and moving customers from more expensive contact points will help you deliver cost savings. But, to encourage more customers to use cheaper social channels you need to give them confidence that it will be quick and easy to get an answer.


  • Call deflection: Think about using post interaction surveys to simply ask customers if they would have used voice, chat or email instead of social. You can add these to wider metrics on changing volumes on other more expensive channels as more customers migrate to social.
  • Flush rate: Analyse posts which do not require a response or action to work how you reduce the number of inbound comments in the first place. Being able to route the right types of mentions to the right team will give you a head start.
  • Agent activity reports: A supervisor dashboard in your engagement app to monitor and measure agent activity will help you drive down costs by optimising productivity and efficiently resourcing services.
#4 How to integrate social with existing customer service channels

The challenge is to assess whether your current technology is fit for purpose to deliver digital customer service, including social channels, or whether you need to integrate new cloud-based solutions to enable you to provide a full omni-channel experience for customers. The reality is most contact centres (79%) do not think their existing technology is future-proof and they are shifting from a pure ownership model to more blended cloud / legacy architecture according to the research from Dimension Data, and 34% of contact centres are planning for a hosted solution to help reduce costs.

If you have a help desk tool, some will have the ability to add social channels but it’s a balancing act as to whether you’ll be able to have all the capabilities you need.


Here are some questions to think about when assessing whether current technology can be modified.

  • Do you have the capability to route comments to a specific agent based on workflow criteria? Help desk tools tend to route comments to the next agent regardless of relevance. Without sufficient automations to route mentions to the right team, and approval workflows so the right replies are going out, you can end up with missed complaints on your main brand account, and marketing and sales enquiries going to your support account and wasting agent time.
  • Can support teams access conversation histories to inform replies? Many tools pick up a mention, then they send you to Facebook (or the relevant platform) to reply, this means there is no customer history stored for future engagement.
  • Are you able to monitor conversations beyond Facebook and Twitter? Nearly all help desk software only focuses on these two. What about all the other social channels? For example, if you are a retailer then you will need to monitor and engage on Instagram. The right platform will let you add all these different social sites, and route into one organised inbox to allow you to handle the customer in a consistent way regardless of social site they choose to engage on.
  • Are you able to search for indirect mentions on Twitter? Help desk software that doesn’t allow you to search outside of official handles will mean you always miss a share of the interactions targeted at you.
  • Does marketing have an oversight on messaging and comments to protect reputations? An approvals feature will enable replies to be sent to designated supervisors for approval prior to publishing.
  • Are customer service supervisors able to analyse incoming conversations and spot trends in customer behaviours? This can be invaluable in identifying ways to improve the customer experience and fix small issues before they become big problems.
#5 Building a successful social care team

Training existing staff to work across multiple channels can be a challenge. Your best people on the phone may not be good at writing responses. Some agents just won’t be comfortable engaging with customers on public channels. Others simply won’t have the written communication skills to respond effectively, especially in 140 characters. Obviously, there are some crossover skills with email, and you may be able to migrate and retrain some agents from other channels. But, most likely you will need to recruit new staff given the specific skills needed around multi-tasking and complex problem solving. Agents need to be confident about working autonomously and have the emotional intelligence to be able to ‘read’ your social customers.


  • Create a social media playbook and have clear guidelines on what can be shared on an open channel and what needs to be discussed in a private conversation.
  • Have a clear policy on the triggers for when a comment needs to be escalated and guidelines on the distinction between an issue and a crisis.
  • Introduce a supervisor approval loop to help with training and agent feedback, and to prevent anything inappropriate going public, and potentially viral.

For more on agent training, try our guide: 6 tips for training social agents

#6 Lack of visibility on social data

Using many disparate systems makes it extremely difficult to create a single view of your digital customers.  Your social customer service team cannot be truly efficient if they do not monitor and analyse agent performance on social channels. You need to measure engagement to be able to manage the social customer service you provide, demonstrate value alongside traditional channels, improve agent performance, and justify investment.


  • Implementing tagging for your social interactions will enable administrators to report on the social conversations and identify comment types. Use existing categories across your business, or define specific tags just for social.
  • Ensure your customer service app includes a supervisor dashboard to give senior managers a real-time overview of agent engagement, all in a single interface to benchmark KPIs.
  • Use the analytics tool in your social customer service app to take a deep dive into customer conversations to understand what drives customer satisfaction, complaints, motivations and behaviours.
  • Assimilate insight from customer interactions to identify any areas where you are not delivering a consistent experience. People often turn to social to complain about how they have been treated by staff elsewhere in your business.
#7 Demonstrating social ROI

Lots of brands are starting to share how social media engagement has driven higher sales and there is an opportunity to improve customer acquisition, loyalty, retention and repeat business with positive engagement. The Institute of Customer Service, in its Service Goes Social report, found there was an upside to increased consumer appetites for social engagement. It found that 39% of people who used social actively gave feedback, while 31% made pre-sales enquiries. Consumers are in the business of buying and social engagement is a powerful commercial tool.


  • Empower your support teams to identify ‘sales’ opportunities.
  • Use the analytics tool in your social customer service app to build search queries, or use automations, based on specific keywords around buying questions or buying signals, to route potential leads to the right teams.
  • Consumers will always take to social to ask about upcoming products and services. Use tags in your engagement app to log consumer questions in the build up to launch dates and schedule a reminder to re-engage with that customer on go-live days.
  • People trust customer recommendations and advocacy. Campaigns which put the customer voice at the heart of your marketing strategy are a persuasive tool to change negative perceptions or sustain positive reputations.
  • Benchmark the sentiment shifts of customer messages over time. Also calculate sentiment conversion. Customers will often start off angry but effective engagement and resolution can turn a negative into a positive.
  • Track the number of comments which are resolved on first contact. Tagging functionality in your social customer service tool will help you analyse these.

Delivering effective social customer service is a powerful way to differentiate your business from competitors and build a loyal customer base. Learn more about how the Sentiment app can help you deliver outstanding customer care on social media.

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