Weaknesses of Using Social Media for Service Recovery - Blog by Rachel Oates

The Weaknesses of Social Media for Service Recovery

While recognising the advantages of using social media for service recovery is essential, it’s weaknesses should also be taken into consideration and it should not be considered the perfect approach for every business.

Keep It Private

Back in 2015, Nitescu looked at how banks can use social media for service marketing towards their customers. However this study also highlighted the fact that interactions between banks and their consumers can often mention personal and private information so conducting these conversations in a public place, such as on social media, would be a bad idea. In these cases, while social media may still be useful for addressing general problems, it may not be the ideal platform for customer-specific problems; in these cases ‘older’ communication methods like phone calls, email and face-to-face contact would be more appropriate for service recovery.

On the other hand, some may argue that social media could still be an acceptable platform for these conversations because of the ability to send private messages between the customer and the business, however, there may still be security concerns preventing this.

Weaknesses of Using Social Media for Service Recovery - Blog by Rachel Oates

Is Your Product Good Enough?

Another potential weakness of using social media for service recovery links to Kerpen’s warning that ‘Social media cannot make up for a bad product, company, or organisation’ (2011, p.9). Consider a situation where your company does have a serious flaw and it’s brought to your attention; if a number of customer were to raise this via email or phone you could satisfy the customer via traditional service recovery techniques and then work in the background to fix the issue quietly without causing too much damage to your company’s reputation. However, if a number of customers draw attention to this problem very publicly, for example by tweeting it, writing blog posts about it or making vlogs then very quickly millions of people could be aware of it and your reputation has been damaged before you have a chance to fix it because the public become aware of the problem at the same time you do. In these situations social media could be argued to be less of an innovation and more of an inconvenience.

Don’t Let Your Employees Let You Down

Another problem arises when businesses don’t use or implement social media properly. Businesses need to ensure that the employees who are interacting with their customers are trained properly, know how to respond appropriately and resolve problems, and can accurately represent their brand.

Nitescu comments that problems arise when ‘Some… employees may not see the real benefits of social media, some of them do not want extra-training, do not want to change the existing routine in the business workflow’ (2015, p.129). In these cases it is important that senior management play an active role in ensuring a social media marketing policy is implemented correctly and thoroughly and that this way of thinking, acting and responding to customers becomes a core part of the business.

In order for it to be successful, using social media, particularly for service recovery, cannot be seen as a fad or an ‘add-on’ but should be fully embraced (Valos et al, 2016, Horn, 2013). Imagine the Argos case (Wallis, 2014), if the employee had not been trained properly and didn’t really understand the purpose of using social media in this context; they might have still replied to the customer with the information they needed but if they’d replied in Standard English the result wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful. It wouldn’t have been funny or personal or special, it would have just been another generic piece of information from a faceless company. By properly training staff, businesses can ensure that they give themselves a human face which can really help in service recovery.

Weaknesses of Using Social Media for Service Recovery - Blog by Rachel Oates

The Future of Service Recovery

When it comes to using social media for service recover it doesn’t seem fair to refer to it as ‘the next innovation’ if anything using social media in this way is quickly becoming the norm in a lot of industries and for a lot of people because today ‘consumers expect brand to interact with them when things go right – and wrong’ (Fromm & Garton, 2013, p.91) and social media is arguably the quickest and easiest way to do that. Nitescu talks about how social media can be used by banks and how it’s ‘not a matter of “if” but rather a reality, a matter of “when” [to begin] adopting it, regardless the “adjustment” costs towards digital and social realm’ (2015, p.130) and we can expect to see a similar view spreading across most industries; if a business hasn’t started using social media yet there’s a big chance it should and that it will.

If we want to look towards what might be the next innovation in service recovery in the future we need to think about what else customers want that isn’t being provided yet and right now it seems most consumer needs are being met through social media; it’s quick, it’s personal and it’s helpful. The key area for businesses to focus on should be improving and refining their employee training and directions for interacting with customers in order to create the best possible service recovery plan whilst also keeping track of future innovations including which new social networks become popular and where their customers are sharing their opinions.

Part 1: What Is Service Recovery?
Part 2: Using Social Media For Service Recovery

Sources & Further Reading

  • Fromm, J. & Garton, C. (2013) Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumes Ever. USA: American Management Association
  • Horn, S. (2013) Social media’s online advantage: The evolution of public relations to digital communications, Public Relations Tactics, 20, 1, p. 16
  • Kerpen, D. (2011) likable social media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistable Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and other social networks). USA: McGraw-Hill
  • Nitescu, D.C. (2015) Banking Business and Social Media – A Strategic Partnership, Theoretical & Applied Economics, 22, 4, pp. 121-132
  • Valos, M, Haji Habibi, F, Casidy, R, Maplestone, V, & Driesener, C 2016, ‘Exploring the integration of social media within integrated marketing communication frameworks: Perspectives of services marketers’, Marketing Intelligence And Planning, 34, 1, p. 19-40
  • Wallis, L. (2014) Why it pays to complain via Twitter. BBC News [online] 21 May 2014. Available at: [Date Accessed: – 15/03/2016]
Adapted from my essay Service Marketing and Social Media, written for IB2650 at Warwick Business School.


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