3 Ways to Use Social Data to Truly Personalize Customer Care

You know that feeling when someone introduces themselves despite it being the fourth time you’ve met? Frustrating! Now flip that and think of that seldom-seen person who always seems to remember the small details of your life and greets you like a close friend. The latter is what brands should strive to achieve. Stellar customer experiences are the foundation for loyalty and advocacy, but you can’t expect the customer to feel the love if they are greeted like a stranger every time they reach out.

According to Microsoft, 52% of people aged 18-34 have used social media to ask a service question and while 64% of that group thinks social is an effective service channel, globally only 45% of people think social can be an effective channel. Social is being used more than ever as a service channel, yet brands need to do more to capture the trust and loyalty of older audiences in order to truly maximize a more cost-effective channel. But of course, this is social and there are tremendous volumes of inbound inquiries to contend with. So, how on earth can you be both efficient in responding to items quickly while also providing the tailored response consumers demand?

The first way is by investing in smarter technology, which can automate and display all relevant information to the person crafting the response. But just as crucial is having a social care plan in place in order to create these first-in-class customer experiences so that you can see measurable results.

Have a social care plan in place in order to create first-in-class customer experiences.


Growing up in Southern Louisiana, nearly every dish starts with what’s called “the trinity,” or the not-so-secret blend of onions, bell peppers and celery that serves as the foundation for cajun cuisine. Every recipe starts with these ingredients. So to help formalize that care plan and take full advantage of your technology investment, I want to give you the trinity of a tailored response. These three elements of context are critical to consider before you respond to solve an issue on social: A deeper look into who the person with the issue is, a complete view of the conversation, and the business data previously compiled.

Consider the 360-view of the customer

Unlike phone or email, social provides tremendous data to help unlock the first piece of the context puzzle: the person. In most cases via social, you are either given or can infer demographic data like the customer’s name, handle, bio, location, employer, industry, gender, and age. This can help with the tone of your response. We’ve seen many brands in the fast food industry capitalizing on their younger audiences’ propensity to share snark and take the risk of being more open on their branded accounts—something that may not work with a different industry.

Beyond answering who they are, social allows you to gather as much public information as possible, including follower count, activity, interests, who they follow and the type of posts in their public feeds. Are they an influencer in your industry? What can you use to relate with this person? While it may sound like an earful, taking into consideration these questions will help you fill out information so that you don’t waste time responding with a question that you could find the answer to—the thread is shorter and the response is more relevant and personal, without a robotic feel. Think, for example: when someone asks for store location or hours and they clearly indicate where they are in their bio.

Consider the conversation at hand

Next, do a deep dive into the conversation or comment you are dealing with. Is there a simple question that needs answering or is it an complex issue that needs solving? Either way, gather a complete view of the thread so that you are understanding all parts of the problem. If your brand gets hundreds of comments per post on a platform like Facebook, it can be easy for comments and replies to get lost within other comments—making it difficult to keep up or even see all of them. Native social is a nonlinear place where conversations happen all over the place—and what is shown is decided by an algorithm. Having a complete threaded view of the conversation at hand, in the order they happened, allows you to connect those dots and formulate that ever-so-important tailored response.

Gather a complete view of the thread so that you are understanding all parts of the problem.


A recent post from Nordstrom shows just how intricate and sometimes messy the comments section in Facebook can get. With 38 hidden replies, a view of the threaded conversation is crucial to filter through both relevant and irrelevant replies or comments for the best personalized response possible.

Consider internal data

The final ingredient in the trinity of a tailored response is the information and data you already have. Think of this as the memory bank that allows your brand to deliver consistent service no matter which representative is responding. Conversation history and issues from previous interactions are crucial to consider. Is this a repeat problem? Was the issue “resolved” last time? This helps avoid sounding tone deaf via this action. If your team has not gotten into the habit of taking notes and appending that to the customer's profile, they should. Adding notes allows your team to more quickly get a sense what to expect with the interaction. I’ve heard of some brands using notes to indicate “troll” or past incentives offered up. Of course, connecting to a CRM is also an effective way to understand the full conversation off of social. Did this person make a call already about the issue they posted? Is there any status in the CRM that indicates the team should handle this customer as “white glove”. Finally, take a look at the history of that certain issue at your company and how it’s been handled it in the past. Did it work? Reflect on all of these areas of business data so that your reply is not only logical considering the context at hand, but also doesn’t stray from your brand values.

Looking beyond the surface of the issue right in front of you will help you formulate a tailored, personal response that has measurable effects for your company, all while building affinity and brand loyalty. The customized response further shows that your brand is active on social and has a personality that feels human. It presents a great opportunity for your brand voice to shine through and to reinforce your values—and that’s all in addition to solving the issue at hand.

Of course, the elephant in the room with this approach is speed. All 3 elements in the trinity must be considered without sacrificing a timely response. Having a technology solution in place to effectively and efficiently respond with context is the only way this can be done. We think we have a pretty great one. Spredfast provides a social care solution that allows you to consider customer and issue context within the workflow of the responder. We serve up contextual information in an interface designed for the unique world of social interactions. Conversation history on Twitter, with it’s public and private channels just acts differently than replies to comments on Facebook. We take all of the network nuances into account and pair that with the universal business needs every interaction can use. So that ultimately, it won’t be the technology that is getting in the way of an effective response. To find out for yourself, check out Spredfast’s solution for customer care.

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Austin Lytle is a Director, Product Marketing at Spredfast where he works with customers and the Spredfast product team to make sure we are delivering the world's best social software platform. Austin spent three years running political campaigns in Texas and Louisiana. A New Orleans native, he is avid cyclist and lover of music and wine.