By Mary Liebowitz

January 9th, 2014

Organizations have limitless opportunities to leverage social media to promote their brand and boost business, but for industries where consumer logistics are often involved, promotion and customer support often go hand-in-hand. As consumers continue to utilize social media’s power as a direct line to customer service, industries with a high volume of customer contact are faced with the dilemma of how to build out an impressive brand image while still successfully supporting their customers.

Looking at the Twitter feeds of various airlines, I think they clearly benefit from the “no replies” view option of verified accounts. Without clicking “all” to display all posts and customer conversations, the first view of a Twitter feed is the airline’s own posts, and can be a friendly and positive representation of the best the airline has to offer.

Some airlines, like Delta, have secondary, dedicated Twitter accounts solely for customer service while using their primary accounts for weather warnings and miscellaneous posts. While separating customer service from marketing can be a necessary evil in airline social media, is a feed full of the same apologies always an indication of a poor product, or is it just a reflection of necessary, high-volume service?


  1. Social presence is no longer a pleasantly surprising occurrence, it’s expected by customers.
  2. We must acknowledge and embrace that the immediacy of social media has tilted the customer service scales in the consumer’s favor. Moving forward, I think smart companies will use that information as a starting point to rethink their customer response model, especially as it pertains to their brand perception. Social customer service should be as close to a real-time response as possible. In this respect, social media monitoring and the ability to assign tasks across an organization can be essential, especially as companies hasten to find their ideal resource/social customer service ratio.
  3. Responses, even at great volume, have the potential to be negatively perceived when formulaic. Variation in language can create a more personalized customer experience. When the ability to positively shape a customer’s experience is limited to a handful of touchpoints, the opportunity to retain a customer can be as simple as using just a few different words to signal that their individual voice is valued and heard.
  4. It’s easy to overlook the social customer service function as part of the brand identity. Social customer service representatives are more than a customer service function – the public nature of their work helps shape a brand’s identity, and should be valued internally as such.

I’m looking forward to seeing how companies will begin to structure their customer service teams in 2014 to streamline social media channel response even better, and what best practices will evolve from the process.


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