Proactive Social Media Customer Service: Why You Need It & How to Achieve It

By March 12, 2020

As more and more organisations get serious about their social media strategy, the standards are set ever higher for delivering exceptional customer service on your channels. It’s no longer enough to be reactive to incoming questions and complaints; you need to be proactively seeking conversations before they become complaints, building relationships with your customers and providing value to delight your whole audience.

Why Have a Social Customer Service Strategy in the First Place?

Chances are, a massive portion of your customer base has access to some form of social media. With such an accessible communication channel open to your customers, it will be easy to see the results for your organisation from establishing a reliable customer service strategy on social media. 

Social Media is People-Centric

Social media allows your audience to reach out to you, on their terms. By connecting with your organisation on a platform that they are comfortable with, they’re much more likely to stay engaged with you.

Real-Time Conversations are Possible

Gone are the days of writing an angry letter or sitting on hold for hours. Most users access social media on their mobiles, giving them a channel to contact an organisation in real-time. This also allows your organisation to respond almost instantly, continuing the conversation and leaving a positive impression.

Customers Can Help Each Other

Social media is a community forum; people can get involved in public conversations and share their own insight. If a customer has an issue, other customers and brand advocates in your audience may be able to help and offer advice. Not only does this kind of brand advocacy increase your credibility as an organisation, but it also frees up your customer service team to deal with other, more complex issues.

Social Signposting Brings Messages to Life

You can use social media to direct users to helpful content you have created, such as a relevant web page or a how-to video on Youtube. This helps to reinforce your customer support network and overall brand ethos.

Customer Service on Social is Cost-Effective

Up to eight times more customer queries can be resolved on social media at than phone or email support. This improves the efficiency of your customer service team and reduces the cost per interaction.

Feedback is Quick, Honest and Actionable

Organisations no longer need to rely on time- and resource-intensive focus groups to learn about their customers. Social media provides quick and valuable insight into your customers, competitors, and how you are viewed as an organisation.


To take your customer service on social media to the next level, you need to ensure you have the basics of social customer service in place to build upon.

The Fundamentals of Good Social Media Customer Service

Every great strategy starts with a solid foundation. Getting the fundamentals in place and executing them well will pave the way for achieving social media customer service superstardom.

Record Your Social Customer Service Plan

The four main points you need to consider to build up an overall picture of your social customer service is approaching, listening, responding and monitoring:

  • Approaching: Make a note of the channels that customers contact you with, and how they get in touch with you; is it via a private message, commenting on your content, or writing a public post?
  • Listening: Listen to what your customers are telling you, and truly understand their issues. Are there recurring themes in their queries that indicate a knowledge gap or a deeper problem in your customer service approach?
  • Responding: Some members of your team will have more knowledge than others. Determine who is going to take responsibility for these queries, and how are they going to respond to them. Are they going to move it to the DMs, direct people to relevant web pages, or reply in a public comment?
  • Monitoring: Decide what metrics you want to track for your customer service performance, based on your overall goals for social media. Are you aiming for the fastest time to resolution or the highest volume of replies during the day?

Audit Your Current Social Customer Service Strategy

Even if you don’t already have a social customer service plan written down, chances are that you have been engaging and responding to any inbound messages; this is your current strategy.

Take stock of what resources you are currently dedicating to answering these inbound messages, what channels you have a presence on, how many interactions you receive on each, and what your process is for handling them.

Set Customer Expectations

Once your team are clear on their roles, it’s time to ensure your customers are clear of what to expect from you. Write out your community guidelines in your account information or as a pinned post, so you can maintain a friendly and supportive community on your organisation’s channels. If you have a dedicated customer service account, you could also put up a daily post informing customers of when your team are available to answer queries.

Taking Your Social Customer Service to the Next Level: How to Be More Proactive

Once you have the foundations of customer service on social media set, you can work on making it excellent. Follow these six tips to transform your current strategy and delight your customers.

Maximise Social-First Colleagues

Colleagues that have a natural interest and flair for social media should be celebrated and encouraged in your team. They are likely to come across as more human and natural to customers, allowing their personality to shine through in their interactions. 

Highlight great examples of their work to the rest of the team and encourage them to share their best practices. 

Own Your Problems

It’s easy to spot a fake on social media. If your organisation does make a mistake, people on social media are more likely to be more forgiving if you’re open, honest and working to put the situation right.

Instead of trying to gloss over problems or worry about damage limitation, openly share your challenges, accept when you’re wrong and be forthcoming with an apology.

Take Decisive Action

Listening to problems and apologising when things go wrong is only the start. You can be as friendly and pleasant as possible during your interactions; the only way your customers are going to be satisfied with their experience is when you have solved their problem. 

If you can, try to go above and beyond for each of your customers. Once the problem is solved, follow up with the customer to ensure they are happy.

Collaborate Between Teams & Organisations

No single person in your team is going to have the answers to every query that comes through; the collaboration between colleagues within your organisation is the best way to give customers the most relevant advice. Go one step further and provide colleagues with direct access to social media so they can answer these questions directly, reducing the time spend going back and forth for answers.

If you feel a question would be answered more effectively by another organisation, you should work to cultivate those relationships ahead of time in case the need arises. For example, if a resident asks their council about their water, you could tag the local water supplier to better answer their question. Identify and work with the organisations that are close to you to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Actively Seek New Conversations

If you’re serious about levelling up your customer service strategy on social media, you should be regularly going outside your circle of customers and seeking issues that are not directly targeted at you. Solving problems for customers who didn’t explicitly come to you to complain is a sure-fire way to build a positive relationship and show you genuinely care.

Use social listening tools to find mentions of your organisation or keywords related to relevant issues to catch any customer problems that you can solve.

Use New Mediums For Maximum Effectiveness

Sometimes, it’s just easier to explain a task to someone using a quick video rather than typing out instructions in a comment. Make use of different digital formats to help you get your message across as clearly and quickly as possible.

Create infographics, videos, GIFs, voice recordings, blog posts, and anything else that can relay information to help your customers, while cutting down on the time your team take to help one person.

Staying Ahead in a Crisis

When everything is going to plan on social media, it’s hard to imagine anything could go wrong. However, when a crisis hits your organisation, being prepared is the key to staying calm and professional. The more prepared your audience can see, the more smoothly and calmly you can navigate through the crisis. What else should you do?

  • Pause Scheduled Content: Some content may give off the wrong impression during a crisis, so it’s best to pause all scheduled content until it has been manually reviewed, or until the crisis passes altogether.
  • Write Quick Responses: In a crisis, time is of the essence. Creating quick replies to commonly-asked questions means everyone gets the same information, and your tone of voice remains consistent while saving the customer service team valuable time.
  • Use Social Listening: Keep track of indirect mentions of your organisation through social listening, so you can keep everyone informed without people filling the gaps themselves with inaccurate information.


Having a solid foundation for your customer service approach on social media allows you to reach new heights and delight your customers with exceptional service. Understand what your customers are expecting from you, and exceed those expectations to forge lasting relationships that stretch beyond social media.