Customer service is no longer tightly bound by the constraints of 1-800 numbers with unnervingly long wait times or emails sent to a black hole with a promise never to return. Customers have started taking their thoughts, concerns, questions, and sometimes incredibly mean comments to incredibly public social media platforms. The time has come where reputation management cannot be brushed under the rug. If a customer has an issue, they expect it to be fixed…publically and quickly. Nothing is private anymore – the long process of word of mouth has been replaced with the seconds it takes to tweet a complaint. Ten years ago when someone was upset with you they would tell 10 friends, now they tell the entire word with the simple stroke of a keyboard. How is your company handling social customer service?
Do you have a team or individual in place to manage your social media presence and reputation? Your business needs a qualified social media professional at the helm, steering your social customer service to maintain the greater good of your company. Customers can be brutal, managing an online presence is hard work, but if you employ the right person you can turn a detractor into a happy customer almost every time. When other fans of your brand see that you handle an irate (and often irrational) customer in a professional and caring manner, they will respect your brand more.
The convenience of social customer service is that you can respond to issues quickly and efficiently. When customers’ concerns are handled quickly they are happy. Nothing is worse than having an issue and having to wait days to get it resolved. You will create brand loyalty and trust by responding to questions and concerns sooner rather than later.
If you have an issue that you’re aware of that affects your customers, let them know before the calls start rolling in. Using Facebook and Twitter to announce an issue that you’re aware of and how you are working diligently to fix it shows that you care about them and you are proactively working on fixing the problem.
View complaints as an opportunity to get better. When someone is passionate enough to complain that means they see a major problem that your business would value from if fixed. Complaints simply make you better at what you do so thank the customer for their observation, fix their issue and move on.
Use a Twitter handle specifically for customer service issues
If you are a big-name brand it might behoove you to create an entirely different social media account for customer service issues. Many large (and some small) brands have created a separate twitter handle for customer service to help manage the influx of inquires. UPS is a fantastic example of how you can use social media for customer service.
@UPShelp – UPS’s customer support account - handles questions concerning tracking numbers, delivery dates, lost packages, and all things related to shipping. To maintain privacy, instead of asking customers to give out their tracking numbers or contact information on a public forum, @UPShelp answers several questions by using the direct message feature and provides an email address just for Twitter users, firstname.lastname@example.org. Offer support beyond the tweet. By offering a phone number or email address you are taking a possible online complaint, offline. Show your customers that you care beyond 140 characters (Twitter’s character limit).
You have a personality just like your business has a personality. Allow your personality to shine through your customer service. Nobody likes talking to a robot, an infusion of humor and understanding will go a long way with your customers.
Personalize your twitter bio.Put the twitter handles of everyone who could tweet from your business account in your bio. This helps build trust and if customers are in desperate need of help after hours they can turn to your personal accounts. Please keep it PC on your personal accounts, and be sure to add a disclaimer such as: ‘opinions are my own’ in your bio so customers can identify that is your personal space.
Personalize your avatar. Give your twitter profile a face. People like seeing who they are interacting with. Smiling faces help humanize your business. Additionally, if there is space, end your tweets with a name. This puts an infusion of personality into your tweets so customers can put a face to a name.