Sound Advice from Entrepreneur Magazine

Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

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.

Delta Orders Pizzas

English: Delta Airlines Cookies snack.

English: Delta Airlines Cookies snack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut (Photo credit: PatrickOhnewein)

Delta used its Facebook account to showcase customer care that exceeded normal practice. During a three-hour wait on the tarmac caused by weather delays, airport employees ordered pizza for passengers waiting on the airplane. NBCNEWS.com’s Ben Popken reported the flight left Boston headed to Atlanta Monday night, but had to divert to Knoxville due to weather in the Atlanta area.

Delta shared the link to the story on their own Facebook page today, with this comment: “30 pizzas on us. Big props to this Delta crew for thinking on their toes – and with their stomachs: http://on.today.com/16K8tuE“.

Within two hours, the post had been shared over 200 times and received 147 comments, with sentiment trending toward positive.

Now, this story isn’t exactly social customer care, but it does speak to great customer service in the field that can produce social brand ambassadors when posted online.

What do you think about this?

Facebook Launching Ranked and Threaded Comments

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

InsideFacebook reported yesterday that Facebook will be rolling out the ability for users to respond directly to individual post comments. Further, ranking based on individual Facebook user connections and level of post engagement will be applied. So, for example, let’s use Bob and Harry. If Bob’s friend Harry commented on a post, or replied to a comment on a post, it seems Harry’s comment could be displayed to Bob before other comments. It also seems that the comments with the most engagement may be displayed higher in the thread than those receiving fewer responses.

What can this mean to social customer care? Potentially many things. When customers are pleased with an event, this can positively drive brand embassador comments right to the top of a thread. Conversely, if customers are upset about a recent price increase, or are rallying for a service to be provided, one comment by a customer can be echoed by many customers very quickly. This is what I call the “pile on phenomenon”. Raising these detractor comments to the top of the pile can encourage more and more customers to weigh in because they are more visible, and because many other people have already weighed in, there is more perceived safety in responding.

In the InsideFacebook article, Britany Darwell reports that page admins will be able to reduce the post ranking without deleting the post, though the procedure for that is not mentioned. It is also unknown whether any social care-focused listening tools will be able to automate the process of post rank reduction.

How do you think this change could impact social customer care?

An ADT Experience

ADT

ADT (Photo credit: tom.arthur)

A few months ago, I had an issue with my ADT alarm system. The back door was not set on delay, so when my husband would get up in the night to let our dog out, we would inevitably set off the alarm. I called ADT to ask where in the owners’ manual I could find the instructions on setting a delay to that door that would allow us to input the security code. I was informed this could only be done by having a technician come to the house, and that trip would cost more than $100. Well, being interested in social care, I wondered if voicing my frustration with this reality would help ease this situation.

When I reached out to ADT on Facebook, they responded quickly. The very next day there was a technician at my house, free of charge, correcting the situation for me. Some worry that this behavior trains customers to go straight to social media and air their concerns in public, where companies traditionally don’t want them aired. While I do see (and worry about) this point of view, I also can’t shake the feeling of warmth and loyalty that arises from the knowledge that when I felt wronged (whether I was truly wronged or not), that ADT created in me a feeling that I mattered. ADT linked their brand name with a good feeling in my brain and it cost them a little more than $100. Isn’t that what brand marketers strive to do?

Though I’m not sure yet whether this is the right or wrong way to do it, I did stay with ADT and spend more money on a system upgrade a few months later.

Where do you stand on this issue? Should social care interactions get top priority and first-class treatment?

Welcome

New welcome mat from my parents

New welcome mat from my parents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Customer care has emerged in the social media landscape. In hindsight it seems only natural that once we begin releasing data out into a communication vehicle, the audience we are delivering to will respond…because they can. Corporations have long had the resources to share anything they like, but now the public has been given a chance to respond. And they sure do.

We moved quickly to provide customer service in social media to respond to an immediate need. Those of us that are passionate about providing excellent customer service want to know, now that we’re out there in the social space, what we can do to find better ways of serving our customers on social media.

This blog is to help share ideas and information that could help us find our way toward achieving top-notch customer service in the channels where our customers choose to communicate.