Talking Social Media Customer Service

It is International Customer Service Week. At Coastal, we have an extremely innovative service excellence department called Feel the Teal. Each year, Feel the Teal marks this week with events, recognition opportunities, and training sessions.

For the second consecutive year, I was asked to speak to the campus community regarding social media customer service. It is always an honor to talk with my colleagues and our students about this topic so I always enthusiastically accept the invitation. Today, inside the training and development conference room, I delivered my “Social Media and Service Excellence” presentation.

Acting cool moments before my presentation started.

The speaking engagement couldn’t have come at a better time. Fresh off our Hurricane Florence/flooding response that saw social media activity to our main accounts skyrocket, I had numerous examples of customer service opportunities and challenges to share. As you can imagine, when a catastrophic storm is forecasted to impact your campus, you can count on plenty of students and parents who will need compassionate customer service during a difficult time.

Besides recapping our Hurricane Florence social media response, I also gave examples of bad social media customer service (hello Wendy’s) and stressed how social media service excellence is similar/different to other forms of customer service.

However, the crux of my presentation consisted of my “10 Ways to Provide Great Service Excellence on Social Media.” If you want all my tips, please contact me and I would be happy to send you my presentation. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to briefly share just three of them.

Always Respond – It is imperative to respond to every honest inquiry you receive on social media, especially those that are critical in nature. In a time of crisis or for those of us managing large digital audiences, this can be a tall task – but it is important. Audience members need to know that they can turn to their favorite social accounts for both answers and respect. Nothing makes a social media user feel more valued than when an organization/university/company responds to a question/comment, especially if the user already values the entity he is engaging with.

Have A Certain Mindset – I always stress that when you respond on behalf of your employer on social media, you must do so with a certain reality in mind. Respond knowing that anything you post can and will be screenshot for thousands, if not millions, of people to see. Any entity with any type of a social media following will have trolls looking for slip ups. Having a bad day and accidentally respond in a snarky or frustrated manner? Someone will take a screenshot. Guaranteed. It is imperative for social media professionals to put the pressure of possible public humiliation and job termination on themselves each time they respond. With this in mind, there is no way you can provide anything but immaculate customer service.

Know When to Continue a Conversation Elsewhere – Most of the time, if someone asks a question on a public thread, a simple response will prove adequate. However, sometimes an issue might need some hashing out. Although a back-and-forth conversation on a public Facebook post or tweet might showcase transparency and dialogue skills, I think it is in the best interest of the user if it is shifted to a direct message format. Specific details and personal information start to surface once conversations get more in depth. But you also might want to take a conversation to a private forum for another reason. It is sad, but any account with a large following will have users who will try to instigate and embarrass. Questions that can’t be answered or that are asked simply to make the account look bad are often posed. Don’t take the bait! Respond publically that you would like to continue the conversation via direct message and leave it up to the user to comply. If not, move on.


Excellent customer service is imperative for any person who is running a brand social media account. Thanks to the typical grind of a higher ed social media professional, I have had my fair share of practice. However, I am still learning. Let me know your social media service excellence tips! Don’t Blink.

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