The late-great twentieth century graced us with the concept of customer service: friendly staff who smiled across the counter, asking “How can I help you?” and free 1-800 numbers staffed with more friendly people who could solve consumer problems and requests.

As great as those times were, the twentieth century gave way to the twenty-first and a brand-new paradigm: social customer service.

With everyone attached to their smartphones, your job is to make sure your customer service is covered in the social arena. We’ll assume that you have the social basics in place: regularly updated Facebook and Twitter pages. Read on for three tips to give your social customer service a little pep in its step.

Respond Quickly to Complaints and Requests
Customers expect you to pick up the phone quickly; they have similar expectations for reaching out via Twitter or Facebook. Make sure you have platforms or alerts that “catch” when your business or brand is mentioned on social platforms. The Connectivity platform captures social mentions and new customer-generated reviews and opinions.

For multi-location businesses, a ticketing system or task-delegation checklist is necessary so tweets and posts don’t fall through the cracks. Smaller, local businesses need an employee who can add social customer service to their daily chores. Don’t forget to cover holidays and weekends, too. Social customer service never stops.

Blogger Luke Chitwood wrote about his positive experience tweeting US Airways when his flight was cancelled. This positive PR is priceless. Instead of tweeting snarky comments about the airline’s customer service, Luke instead blogged about their awesomeness.

Take It Offline
As quickly as you can, try to move the conversation to a more private space. On Twitter, ask the customer to follow your business so that you can both move into direct message. For Facebook, ask the customer to kindly message a phone number or email. These requests show that your business or brand is taking the situation seriously. Once you have the customer on the phone, most issues can be resolved favorably.

And do we need to say it? Never act defensively or aggressively in a social post. Apologize for the customer’s inconvenience and let them know that you are listening to their concerns. Although you can’t make everyone happy, the hundreds or thousands of people who may read your replies will form a more positive opinion of your business.

Random Acts of Awesome
Everyone loves a surprise! Depending on your business, how about tweeting or posting a status update like these:

Alex is VP of Marketing for Connectivity. On behalf of Connectivity, she thanks all veterans for their service and sacrifice, and wishes all a happy Veterans Day.