Social media has provided an unprecedented opportunity for companies to reach out to their customers almost instantly — to celebrate with them when they are happy, or to coddle them when they’re upset.

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Unfortunately, companies don’t seem to be stepping up to the challenge. A study by evolve24 found that almost 70% of customer service complaints made on Twitter go unanswered. This means that 7 out of 10 of your customers, who were already pissed off to begin with, are potentially going to be lost – for good.

Given that 71% of your customers who receive positive social care are likely to recommend your brand to others, I’d say that missing out on those 70% is a huge brand-building opportunity gone a-wasting.

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Furthermore, a study by Sprout Social revealed that the average response time of brands to social media messages has in fact gotten worse – it has increased from 10.9 hours (!) in 2012 to 11.3 hours (!!) in 2013. In an age of instant messaging, this is frankly rather shocking.

This infographic created by Help Scout elaborates on the repercussions of bad customer service:

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Simply put, social customer service is no laughing matter. A single negative tweet could easily cost a company 1000 followers who just happened to see it. Hence, it is imperative that you start making your presence known on your social media channels, and coddle your customer as much as you can. After all, the customer is always right.

Here are 3 tools that will help you to improve your social customer service:

1 Mention

A similar (but better) tool to Google Alerts, Mention monitors the web and lets you know whenever somebody mentions your name, brand, or target keywords. It is especially useful for monitoring all your social media channels at once, as Mention immediately pings you once somebody talks about you, allowing you to respond right away.

2 Conversocial

Conversocial was created for the very purpose of helping companies provide awesome social customer service. It allows you to centralize all tweets and comments from your respective Twitter and Facebook accounts into a single inbox so that you can respond quickly.

Conversocial also provides you the option of adding notes and viewing full conversation history so that you can provide personalized service to the customer in question. The latest version even includes an “intelligent threading” of conversations between social channels and an “intelligent prioritization of the most pressing service issues.”

3 Bottlenose

It’s one thing to get a lot of information about all the social noise happening around your brand – it’s a whole other thing to actually make sense of it. Thankfully, Bottlenose was created to do the heavy lifting for you.

Bottlenose is a social dashboard that helps you to identify the most relevant topics and subjects hiding amongst the mess that is your Twitter feed. At the end of the day, you will have a better understanding of what your customers are talking about with regards to your brand, and be able to take action on it accordingly.

4 Tweetdeck

Looking for a free tool that allows you to monitor your Twitter accounts with a single glance? Tweetdeck is the perfect application for the job. You can easily build and organize custom timelines to keep track of all your lists and searches within the interface. Have a variety of Twitter accounts on hand? No problem – Tweetdeck allows you to add and subsequently tweet or follow from any of the accounts you own.

Daniel is a writer based in the sunny island of Singapore. He mainly covers the tech scene in Singapore for Tech in Asia, but his byline can be found in a variety of publications and blogs. He is madly passionate about entrepreneurship, marketing, and productivity, and his home is at danieltay.me.