Are You Being Served ? Customer Service in Social Media

The cold sweat drips down the young marketing executives back. Her worst fear has come true. She thought her post would win the favour of her managers and the senior staff of the company but now it has backfired. Her post which went up a day ago reads, “Hey everyone! We have a special this week on the Indigo, half price to all our Facebook fans! Just quote the code RXBB in store to avail of the offer!” . The first few replies were brilliant. Some thanked the brand. Others gave positives like, “cool” and “nice one” .Then at 1145 pm last night it happened. The complaint. “Indigo’s are rubbish. I had mine a full week and it crashed. Not even worth a quarter price never mind half.Fail.”.

What does this marketing exec do now? Does she delete the post? Does she deal with the query on Facebook? Who can she go to for advice?

The answer to those questions are unique to every company. There is no right or wrong way of approaching it. For some, certain complaints are best left alone or deleted ( it is a rare case but it does happen) . For others they will want a swift resolution to the matter and bring it off Facebook. Others may be in favour of opening up the dialogue on the platform. Whatever the approach, one thing is certain – if you go on social media, make sure you have an integrated plan for dealing with customer complaints and customer service.

Ideally, you should have a social media specialist in your CS team devoted to solving the problems of your customers. They should work within the agreed framework of the CS division and have a dotted line in to the Head of Social Media with reference to tone, standards and process. Each complaint on social should be logged and dealt with in a timely manner. Positive or negative comments form the CS interaction on social should also be logged and used for training purposes.

One thing that isn’t readily done on social media is pro-active customer service. The kind you get when you walk in to a good clothes shop or a car dealership. “How can I help you?” . It is the ultimate preamble to a sale or at the very least a conversation. Brands should look to give themselves the digital equivalent of this greeting. This will come in different forms for different brands and in some cases may not be applicable at all. But the action should be investigated and it might be a good idea to bring the sales manager of the brand into this investigation.

Further to asking your own customers if they need help, what about asking disgruntled customers of your competitors if you can help? This is the ultimate in customer service for me. There are many good social media listening tools on the market at the moment. They will enable you to eavesdrop on any conversation happening about your brand or others. If someone is complaining about a competitors service or offering and no one is listening, why not offer your product or service? Again, this might not be for every brand and there are a myriad of ways in which this could work but this outreach could play an important role in your acquisition strategy.

Customer Service is the sharp end of Marketing. It wipes off the make up and tinsel of advertising and branding and states what the brand really is. Customer Service 1.0 was a one to one experience. Now, in a viral world everyone can see good and bad customer service. Once again, people now have more power over the brand because of this. Get it wrong at your peril.

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