Customer service is kind of easy (or at least straightforward) in the real world. You greet a customer and if they have a problem you do your best to deal with it in a polite and courteous manner. If it is a deep and complex problem, you grab your supervisor or set up a meeting.
It’s all quite clear cut in the real world. But on social media, it changes massively. Customer service is not about anything other than managing time well, knowing your customer inside out, and ensuring that you’re as clear as possible when you respond. And that’s only with some of the issues that crop up. In this post we’ll look first at two brands that ‘do’ customer service really well, and then we will offer some pointers for small businesses everywhere.
So, without further ado, two powerhouses of social media customer service…
Nike: Creating a stand-alone customer service beast
Nike is a huge company and it is highly respected. Known for ushering in a new dawn of advertising with their catchy slogans and unique ads, they have gone from strength to strength, continuously building up a massive presence.
Online, they are arguably more in touch than any other company in the world. They have literally millions of followers on Twitter, and this causes a bit of a problem. How do you cater for all of the customer service issues that followers come up with on Twitter? With so many followers, how can you do your best to help everyone?
Easy, you give customer service its own Twitter account and you man it 24 hours a day.
Standout Work: https://twitter.com/NikeSupport/status/627473607829143553
B&Q: Responding within 3 minutes
Top social media customer service is not just a reserve of the big US companies either. This all-powerful UK DIY chain has made Twitter it’s home too. They’ve got the dedicated help account on here, but one thing they also do exceptionally well is respond fast. It has been reported that the company responds speedily, often within 3 minutes of a tweet asking for help.
This is good for any company and not least a company that has such a huge presence in the UK. This firm (and by the way, what does ‘B&Q’ stand for?) is everywhere, and they are generally seen as being the only DIY chain that has any legs at the moment.
Take a look at the customer service channel here and note how it literally feels like there are a couple of staff members just waiting to hear from you (there may well be). It’s personal, it’s immediate, and it’s fun.
Standout Work: https://twitter.com/bandq_help/status/623734503572402176
Now for the advice…
Use Please and Thank You
No matter how strong the comments against your company may be, or how high emotions are running, it is absolutely vital that you remain professional at all times. Social media is a very fast-paced and sometimes cruel place. But the customer does deserve respect and professionalism in how the situation is handled. If you go off like a rocket and respond to negative comments in an angry way, it will only affect your brand negatively.
The best brands deal with customer problems immediately on social, (or as quickly as they can) and this leads to the brand being respected and liked in the long term.
This is one of the basics of social media management. Be as polite as you can at all times, even when things get very heated. In the end, you are professionals.
Respond clearly and directly
This one is very important. If someone does complain about your service online, then respond to them directly. This means sending them a direct message about the issue, with a clear way for them to contact you back.
If possible, give them clear details about how to contact you outside the channel you are both communicating on. This shows you respect them enough to give them a phone number for example.
Essentially, if you give them a direct phone number you are effectively taking them out of the public arena and asking them to come and discuss it quietly with you. Imagine you are in a store and a customer walks in and starts screaming at the top of their lungs about how awful you are. Giving them that phone number is just like taking them into the office for a nice civilised discussion about the issue. The other customers do not have their day disrupted and you avoid embarrassment.
This is essential and many a company has suffered here. If you leave a complaint to linger for even a couple of hours, it can cause problems. And the bigger you are, the worse this can be.
Imagine if your company is of a reasonable size, or is growing, and has followers and fans. Not too far from the truth, right? Well, now imagine if an explosive tweet comes up out of nowhere and accuses you of terrible customer service. And then imagine if you wait a day to answer the tweet or give any kind of constructive response.
That’s one day.
During those 24 hours the customer could create more tweets, complaining even louder about how you don’t listen and you don’t care. He could create a hashtag and get a bunch of his friends involved.
The whole thing could snowball and become a trend (it happens) and all the while you have not responded. By the time you log back into Twitter you could be looking at a major event. One that could even sink your company.
To put this in real terms, if that same customer came into your store and started complaining loudly and you just sat there and drank your coffee, would that be a good thing?
Train your guys up
Remember the B&Q example from earlier? A couple of employees who seemed to literally hang out on Twitter all day and answer customer service queries? It has to be like that. Train your social media customer service team just as thoroughly as you would an in-store customer service team and reap the benefits.
When a customer jumps online with a query on Twitter, if they receive a quick and courteous reply, you’re already winning. If they then get real help from real people through the platform, they are more than likely going to be a lot happier by the end of the situation.
The secret here is to invest in your social media customer service people. Give them the support they need to learn the job quickly and well. The more professional they are and the more empowered they are to deal with issues, the better the result for everyone, especially the customer.
Finally, stop the rot before it sets in
If you can make it so that your customers have fewer reasons to complain, you’re in a better place. Give them every chance, everywhere, to contact you and ask for advice, suggest a question or just complain.
If a customer knows that you respond to emails, phone calls and other aspects of basic human communication outside of social, they are more likely to go there first.
So get to the right place quicker by providing excellent customer service through other channels. Any emails that come through from now on, respond quickly and professionally no matter what they’re about. Make your customer service team experts on the telephone, dealing with issues effectively and efficiently. The more your company is known for responding positively, the more likely people will forget Twitter And Facebook, and contact you through more traditional channels.
This saves Twitter nightmares, for example, and makes your company better. So to manage customer service better on social, you need to keep it off social.
The Big Takeaway
Social media is a fast and sometimes unforgiving place. If you’re going to play in that space, you need to show respect for others. You also need to be quick and responsive. You may not have the budget to man dedicated customer service accounts on Twitter, but you can certainly monitor your accounts. Do this, and respond as fast as you can to issues.
At the same time, respond to good news and other positive messages that come through. The more in control of customer service you seem, the better the result in the long term.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community