Research Project: The role of social media in customer service

Social media users increasingly talk online about their consumption experiences – good and bad. Such comments can influence other buyers’ purchase decisions, are a source of insight for the firm and represent a service recovery opportunity. Yet, numerous examples show that, when handled poorly, online customer feedback can degenerate into public relations nightmares and produce costly damage. Therefore, it is critical to understand how organisations should handle customers’ comments on social media.

Professor Moira Clark of Henley Business School and I are investigating best practice in customer service via social media. We would appreciate if you could let us know:

  • In your opinion, which firms handle customer interaction on social media well? Please let us know what type of interaction you are referring to (e.g., dealing with a complaint, responding to a positive comment, answering a question)
  • What is particularly good about those interactions?

Thank you in advance for your support.

14 thoughts on “Research Project: The role of social media in customer service

  1. Hi there,

    This is a really interesting subject matter!

    Quick question though when you mean by firm do you mean by industry or literally mean for example HSBC, Burger King, YoSushi for example?

    As I think it would be interesting to look into industry type on a more macro level. Something I been looking into for a while now in terms of writing a blog piece on!

    However with yours being an academic piece it would be interesting to see your hypothesis and proposals.

    With hypothesis such as:

    H1 “I predict social media via banks such as Citi Bank / Lloyds” are going to have much lower levels of customer service because of the way the level of service can be attributed

    H2 “B2C social media firms have higher engagement levels than B2B companies”

    H3 “B2B firms have poorer customer service levels via social media because they do not see value in the channel”

    Hypothesis along those lines, this does look like a very interesting topical piece

    I look forward to the results!

    Kind regards
    Pak Hou


    1. Hi, I am looking at specific examples – so, HSBC rather than banking.

      This is a qualitative piece of work, so I don’t have hypotheses. I am exploring what factors SM users value the most, and whether it varies for negative vs. positive comments – for instance, complaints vs. expressing delight.

      Yes, I will definitely post about the findings in here… and I look forward to reading your post!


  2. Hi Ana,
    To elaborate a bit on the things I mentioned on Twitter, I’m also responding here.
    Two companies that I am a customer of, and respond brilliantly on Twitter are airBaltic and Bite Latvia (Bite is a mobile phone operator, local Vodafone partner).

    I’ve tested airBaltic several times, with questions, and sometimes a service request. This week, for example, I checked in online for my flight from London to Riga. But I did something wrong and could not print my boarding pass. I sent out a question on Twitter, and within the hour they responded they were looking into it, and a bit later that it was solved. Indeed, the boarding pass was sent to me by email. Their response times, and solution driven approach make them exemplary in my book.

    Also Bite Latvia is great in responding on Twitter. Especially if you know their team is relatively small. Solutions, suggestions, help on customer questions. Even on a Saturday night (I don’t think their team is so big, this must have been done in spare time).

    If I think of more, I’ll let you know.


  3. There’s no single answer for this question, but a range of valuable responses. In general, I find that individuals respond much more effectively than businesses. Even though an individual is often responsible for responding on behalf of a business, a result of our study on how wine is communicated through twitter found that businesses tend to amplify promotional content to their network, whilst individuals tend to respond directly to questions, comments and feedback. Unsurprisingly, newer twitter users fell into the ‘self-promotion trap’ more readily than those who had twitter accounts for longer. Referring specifically to some examples of promising twitter users in wine are Robert MacIntosh and Donald Edwards, with Best’s wines and Randall Grahm sticking out as memorable examples of twitter users whose tweets engages their audience more effectively because they communicate like people. Sadly, some examples of users that tend to communicate in one direction are most wine distributors. Sandalford wines started badly, but is improving, and brand Natalie McLean has a large audience through heavy promotions. To be fair, she also recognises all who mention her, which is another way to use social media.


  4. My telco provider called DiGi has this twitter account as customer service which I’m really impressed with. This twitter account always share latest promotion and is able to answer general inquiries about their services. They do handle complaints but not very personally i.e they still ask to refer problem to call center or online chat. What I like best of such interaction is we are always being informed especially during service interruption when I always wonder what happen to phone service without the need to make call to their call center. I also like it knowing they can be easily reached online whenever I need them.


      1. Hi Anna,

        Perhaps it I my generation but I do not use twitter or face book. I don’t know if this fits into your research parameters but I shop for clothes on-line a lot and I do look at are the comments and review, both negative and positive before buying. I like the companies that encourage feed back from their customers. La Redoute is one such company as is Phase Eight.


  5. Thank you, Laurie. Yes, it fits – this is not about Twitter or FB, only… though those may be the platforms that jump to mind. Many thanks.


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