Social Media and Customer Service Lessons from the NBA

The NBA season is nearly upon us.

As a product, professional basketball needs to be delivered to the fans in a particular way.

It is not only about game. Fans (customers) will make their voices heard via social media outlets and in order to keep tickets and merchandise selling, the NBA need to meet their demands and get a strong handle on social media customer service.

There is similar pressure in our own businesses. So to help boost your customer service, here are 4 key customer service lessons we can learn from the NBA.

1. A Big Social Media Presence means a Big Customer Reach 

There is some bad news as studies indicate that while 80% of businesses believe they deliver excellent customer service, only 8% of customers agree. That is an enormous gap. There is good news thought because social media engagement means that your customers can hear more of your story, and more of your brand. It also gives them an opportunity to connect with you on a more personal level.

Gartner Analysts Add: “Generating attention for your brand and product is one step in marketing strategy and processes.  It is an important step.  People cannot buy your product if they do not know you exist.“

2. Give your fans and customers a voice

We know you offer your customers a variety of options to share their opinions, but social media will help spread your message further, and faster than ever before. Customers who engage with you on social media want to communicate with you. They want to share what you share, and to hear your updates. If you offer your customers a voice via social media, you also need to provide answers. One of the most significant gaps in social media customer service is response time. Be sure that if you are providing your customers with the opportunity to complain (or applaud) your efforts via social media, you need to be sure that you are responding and encouraging more of these opportunities.

3. Use it as Crisis Management

When NBA players are injured or hurt, they often use their social media profiles to connect with their fans directly. They will give updates on their condition to help with “crisis management.” You can leverage this idea in your own work. Got a glitch? Site down? Is there going to be an overhaul or brand change? Use social media to gather support and help avert a customer service crisis. By working with your customers in advance of a difficulty, or immediately following a problem, you will continue to build trust and confidence. This will contribute to better transparency and trust amongst your customer base.

4. Offer Exclusives

Many teams in the NBA will offer updates and other “exclusive” content that keeps fans entertained and engaged. Take this opportunity for your own business. Offer exclusive content for your customers, and you will grab their attention and keep it. You’ll also build a stronger following, and more brand recognition.

Gartner Analysts sum up their thoughts: “As we commented in our initial post, every organization is social, but few are social organizations.    Mass collaboration gives an organization the ability to amplify its capabilities through raising the engagement, innovation and involvement of people internally and externally.”

Overall, the NBA is dedicated to the very best in social media customer service. They cannot afford not to. Now their departments are a lot larger than the average business’, but there are significant opportunities for you to take advantage of. So, create a strong social media presence, respond fast, dedicate some staff for this particular purpose, and leverage social media for crisis management. Your customers will soon be big fans.


Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.