Is Anybody Out There? Aetna’s Facebook Customer Service in Action

by on Mar 19, 2015

social-customer-serviceSocial media has drastically enhanced the line of communication between consumers and corporations. The instantaneous nature of reaching out through Facebook has become commonplace, and many consumers have migrated away from calling toll-free lines or sending emails for rants, raves and inquiries. In order to meet communication trends, major healthcare providers such as Aetna have evolved by answering participant posts directly on their Facebook pages. However, the decision to interact with plan participants via Facebook can sometimes feel like a Pandora’s box, especially when posts feature disgruntled messages stemming from personal frustrations. 

When the ACA took effect on January 1, 2014, the market naturally broadened – ultimately making customer service an even more daunting task for healthcare providers. At Corporate Insight, we heavily focus on the customer experience, so we decided to run a quick interactive review of Aetna’s response to Facebook feedback.

While scanning comments, the post below caught our attention and raised crucial questions: does Aetna tailor its responses to each inquirer? Are the responses timely? We noticed that most commenters were asked to forward their concerns to, a generally unsatisfying response. Given the increasing expectation for Facebook customer service to mirror face-to-face communications, an added step is an added frustration.


Aetna Responds to a Participant Query on Facebook

We therefore decided to pose a simple question of our own, one that any novice customer service professional should be able to handle: How do I stop receiving paper statements every single time I visit a health care professional? Once we posted, the clock was ticking. Several research studies have defined “best practice” response times for social media customer service. According to, around 42% of individuals who contact a brand via social media anticipate feedback within one hour. Aetna got back to us in only 19 minutes with a suggestion that actually offered actionable steps. This example, however, is an isolated occurrence, and in no way reflects the treatment that all commenters should expect. Presumably, more in-depth or pressing comments and customer complaints would naturally elicit longer response times or unhelpful canned replies. Were we satisfied with our interaction? Yes. Is this the case for all commenters? Absolutely not.


Facebook Question and Highlighted Response Time