Customer Service & Social Listening: the 5 Second Rule

Chia Chia
April 6, 2017 ・ 5 min read

The 5 second rule has been widely popularized in western culture, often used to refer to the amount of time that food is still “safe to eat” after it’s been dropped on the floor… 5 seconds isn’t long. There’s not much you can do (or finish doing) in such a meager amount of time. You can stand up, sit back down, you can take a bite out of an apple…. or you can make a life-changing decision.

That’s what Mel Robbins writes about in her most recent book The 5 Second Rule, which she sums up like this:

“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”

Personally, I know that if I’m not driven to action soon, things tend to progress… slowly. (I own a pair of skinny jeans. They’re sitting in the back of my closet. I think they’ve been there for 2 years now. They may never see the light of day…)

Mel’s advice is simple but important, and when you think about it, the 5 second rule can apply to anything — even social listening.

How many times have you missed out on important customer service and sales opportunities because you just didn’t react fast enough? Have you lost clients because you waited too long to get back to them? Or maybe you weren’t slow, but your competitors were faster? Apply the 5 second rule to your customer service strategies and stop giving away opportunities (and customers) to your competition.

How to find the customers who need your help — before your competition does!

Social listening tools like Brand24 let you automate and simplify a time-consuming part of the process. Use it to monitor mentions of your company across the web, and find public conversations (like Tweets, Facebook posts, forum discussions, etc.) that talk about your company. This will point out your happy customers, dissatisfied customers and customers that need your help — all collected automatically inside a single dashboard, so you don’t have to waste time looking for them. It just makes things easier, and Brand24 is so confident about their tool, that they let you try it for free.

How do you implement the 5 second rule in your customer service strategies?

You begin with responding to your customers as quickly as possible.

Nowadays, the fastest way to do this is through social media. That’s where your customers are talking to (or about) you. If your responses have been snail-paced or if you’ve been neglecting social media as a meaningful avenue for customer service, these 21 stats may change your mind.

How to do social media customer service

Start by using a social listening tool like Brand24 to find instances where your customers are trying to get your attention across various social media platforms.

Set up a social listening project

First, enter the keywords that you want to track.

Suppose I worked for Joseph Enterprises and I wanted to find customers who’ve been talking about Chia Pets. I’d start by selecting keywords or phrases that are likely to be mentioned in a conversation about, well, Chia Pets. I would then enter those words into my project. This is what that would look like:

After setting that up, I’d start receiving notifications in my Brand24 dashboard about any on-line mentions containing those keywords. For “Project Chia Pet”, I got results like this:

The first mention is a no-brainer. As long as I’m paying attention to my Twitter account, I can easily respond to customers that address me directly — but the 2 examples below it depend on whether I’ve been tracking mentions about my hashtag.

As you can see, this is definitely worth doing, especially if you’re interested in increasing sales and developing good customer relationships.

Here’s a video that shares some good tips on how to track your hashtags, and the hashtag metrics that you need to pay attention to:

What else can social listening show you?

Just think of all the on-line conversations about your product/brand that you’ve been missing out on:

In the two mentions above, “Chia Pets” have NOT been tagged. The audience is just doing what comes naturally, and talking about the product casually.

This means that unless you’re using a social media listening tool like I did here, these can be much harder to keep track of. And then you’d lose out on sales opportunities, customer engagement opportunities, and…erm…l entrepreneurial inspiration, like the notion of growing a Chia Pet using a different type of seed.

It’s easy to engage your (potential) customers with Brand24, 
all you have to do is click on a mention inside your dashboard and you’ll be able to respond directly, and the sooner the better.

The 5-second rule: make it count

It only takes 5 seconds to make a life-changing decision.

Just make sure it’s one that will improve your customer relations and help you increase their numbers. No pressure.

The key thing to remember is that 5 seconds is just enough time to act, and act fast.

It’s tempting to put things off, especially when you’re busy, but some things can’t wait.

We’ve all been there — get swamped with work and miss an e-mail from a good friend… days turn into weeks into months… Suddenly, the message is no longer at the top of your inbox. It moves to your 2nd page, your 3rd, and finally… you have to use the search field to find it.

By now, it’s kind of late to respond. You love your friend, but… awkward.

Next thing you know, you’re at her wedding, sitting at a corner table, sandwiched in-between her husband’s 5th cousin twice-removed and his dentist’s dog walker, straining to hear the maid of honor as she makes her toast to the happy couple’s eternal bliss.

I may or may not be exaggerating; this may or may not have happened to me. But I digress. And please don’t pity me. Just don’t make the same mistake I did.

React — and react fast

Show your customers you care by responding to them as soon as possible. You were efficient enough to find them exactly at the moment when they needed your help. Now go the extra mile and show them you care by reacting as quickly as possible.

Avoid getting seated at the ‘extra’ table across from a hunter who barely made the invite list… did I mention that I’m a vegan?

More overshares coming soon! In the meantime, remember to NOT follow in my footsteps and use a social listening tool like Brand24 to find and listen to your customers so you can respond to them as quickly as possible.

For more resources on customer service and social listening: