New report shows how and why customer service must change due to social media use

Over 44% of adults now using the web to share grievances


Recommended link: Social Media Leadership forum

Our commentary

This report examines the role played by social media within the rapidly changing landscape of customer service. It was commissioned by Natalie Cowen, Head of Brand and Communications, first direct and created by Dr Andrew Currah.

The report reminds us how important the web and social media in particular have become to brands. In the Exec Summary, Natalie Cowen says:

Over 44% of adults now use the web to share grievances about products, with companies expected to interact with companies online and get a speedy response

It seems that many companies haven’t changed the way they manage customer service in line with this – Dan Bosomworth summarised a survey in the autumn last year suggesting that 95% of customer Facebook posts were ignored by brands.

We’re alerting you to this new report, since if you’re managing how social media is used to deliver customer service in a business it helps give a structure to changes needed as part of the move to “Social CRM” as it is often termed today.

This is a summary of the approach recommended:

Marketing implications

The report recommends that leaders in companies need to support the move to social business

  • make themselves more visible, especially when public crises occur.
  • provide all employees with the training, tools and authority to engage with customers.
  • look beyond standard metrics to the value of brand loyalty, advocacy and a sense of community.

The report goes on to recommend these governance practices:

  1. The customer service operation is equipped to monitor and engage with a targeted spectrum of media.
  2. Companies fully understand where, why and how their customers are using social media before making any changes.
  3. A balance is struck across different types of media – telephone, email, web, social and mobile.
  4. The power of online communities is recognised, and customers are encouraged to help each other.
  5. Relationships are nurtured with advocates who wield particular influence on the Internet.
  6. Specialist tools are used to measure the impact of customers’ online activity

The report has been made available to share via Scribd. This include a more detailed 10 point plan to setup and implement better ways of working. The only thing I would add is that the opportunities to use social CRM to learn about new product/service requirements, develop advocacy aren’t emphasised.

Future Of Customer Service: The Rise Of The Social Customer report

  • ‘Bunny Tilkin

    I’ve been observing some brands’ Facebook walls. Some had customers spewing complaints and it’s not pretty. Some react by blocking wall posts by customers. Others try to educate their customers to send in their complains through proper channels (eg, Facebook page plugins).

    I wonder if there is a better solution. Seems as if it’s a reflex for people to vent on brands’ Facebook walls when they are frustrated with the products/services.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, it not’s pretty – when there is no response and the customers are asking “is anyone there”.

      Best to channel the complaints elsewhere or tackle them in other channels first. I think social channels tend to be “of last resort”

      I haven’t seen a page plugin – that’s sounds a good solution to manage it – do you have any examples?

      • Stuart Browning


        TidalWave is a new social application platform for Facebook that will allow an organization to create a customer service app and place it as a tab on their fan page. All the data is safely stored in the cloud and can be downloaded at will. Check it out at

        Stuart Browning

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