Entrepreneur Magazine posted this article by Jason Fell last month titled 4 Quick Tips for Using Social Media for Customer Service. He provides some sound advice on delivering customer care through social media.
His first tip is to keep a separate Twitter handle for support issues. I think this is a great way to not only separate out customer support inquiries from marketing efforts, but also provides an excellent opportunity to create a brand for your support. Branding your company’s help handle shows consumers the company takes customer experience and satisfaction seriously.
Before purchasing something new, I frequently seek feedback online. One great way to check the state of an organization’s customer service is to visit Facebook or Twitter to see what the public is really saying about a brand. I’ve found it true that any customer service flaw a company has can be greatly magnified on social media.
Secondly, he speaks to the importance of first contact resolution. I fully recommend this whenever you can pull it off. It can be tricky, but if you put some detective work into it, many times it’s possible to figure out who the customer is, find that account information and just reply back with an answer to the problem. It’s a bit tough if location information isn’t given, but I think it’s worth the time to give it your best shot.
Fell’s third tip deals with crisis. Crisis can be tricky. I would argue that unless your crisis impacts all or a great majority of your customers, consider benefit of broad proactive communication against the cost. If you can specifically geotarget a proactive post to impacted parties, I recommend it. But overuse of broad updates could start to be construed as spam to those unaffected. It would be a shame to have good corporate intentions result in a pile of messages to unimpacted customers that could serve to erode faith in the brand’s performance. I also say if you have a limited number of customers impacted by the crisis, though it may be painful, you might want to try answering each individual social inquiry, regardless of whether you have a proactive tweet or post out there. This, of course, depends on staffing constraints, but if you can reply with short, personalized responses to all the incoming questions, it can look much more responsive. I do acknowledge this is sometimes just not possible.
I fully agree with Jason’s point that training is a must-have. Traditional call center conversations take place on the phone where information is shared in a dyadic setting. Social customer support happens in a very public place. Thorough training and communication of expectations can really make the difference between simmering down a social site to boiling one over in short order.
Check out the article, I highly recommend it. I’m also interested in your thoughts.