By Liam Dowd - July 10th, 2014

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We recently sat down with Nikki to get her views on how Whole Foods Market strategise social customer service

What are the key drivers behind your organization’s use of social media for customer service?

For many companies, customers are already on social channels speaking about your brand…so why not join in the conversation!

We believe that providing customer service on our various social channels offers an additional outlet that more and more consumers prefer over traditional methods.

As we all know, customers vent, recommend products and share positive/negative feedback with their personal community. Social media is a fantastic avenue for brands to join in the conversation to resolve problems, build brand loyalty and have fun with their community!

How is social customer service organized within your company?

Our social media team sits under the overall Communications team at our Global office.

We are on the Integrated Media sub-team under Communications, although we have also been on the Marketing sub-team in the past as well.

As the social moderator, I sit right next to our customer information team that handles phone calls and emails so we can work on consistent responses and customer service escalations.

The CI team sits under the Public Relations team and I work very close with that entire team.

We have 850+ social accounts companywide so we also have various customer service points on marketing teams at regional offices and store locations.

Can you outline a recent initiative that utilized social media successfully for customer service?

The most notable initiative was our GMO labeling announcement last year. To this day, we continue to receive questions on our social accounts about the labeling process and GMOs in general. 

Social has proven to be a fantastic channel to get the word out to our community and to clear up rumors that circulate online.

Customer service shouldn’t be only about responding to negative mentions.

Responding proactively can help inform your community about brand initiatives and allow you to get a little ahead of the curve, which is rare in social!

How are you tackling the challenge to prove ROI on managing customer service through social?

Since we do not offer online ordering nationally, we cannot provide a direct, monetary ROI for our social customer service.

We report on relevant metrics such as response time, escalated issues and overall engagement analytics based on the entire online conversation to gauge our customer service in social.


This interview is part of the knowledge exchange in the build up to this year's Social Media for Customer Service Summit, New York. Learn from 20+ leading brands including Capital One, Whole Foods and U-Haul. Take a look at the full agenda for yourself with the 2014 summit brochure

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