Social Media Guide: Zendesk’s 10 Customer Service Best Practices [Infographic]

Zendesk posted this helpful infographic social media guide highlighting 10 customer service best practices for social media customer service. They’ve also provided more information on their post “Building a Customer Service Dream Team.”

3 Important Points from the Social Media Guide

  • The first tips call your attention to the working conditions of your social care agents. According to the infographic, 54% of employees reported that if they didn’t feel appreciated by their manager, they would likely leave their job. This is most noteworthy because many leaders skip agent conditions when considering customer service best practices.

  • Another subject covered in this social media guide is employee appreciation. Today this is made easier by new computer programs. However, it is important to also remember that personal recognition of a job well done can be very impactful for agents. In addition, public recognition of a job well done is very meaningful to the right employee. Being an advocate for your employees and creating a welcoming and comfortable environment really causes them to want to stay with you, and customers feel that.
  • You can also train your social care agents to be experts in their field. This helps make first contact resolution the standard, not the exception. You can get information on how to do that from my post titled Keep Your Social Media Customer Support Staff Informed.

Remember this simple equation: happy agents + simple processes + right tools=fantastic customer experience. Create your own social media guide for your team today!

Here’s to great service!

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10 best practices to improve customer support
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Customer Support on Blab? Yes.

Customer Service on Blab? Yes. image by Jed Record.

Customer Support on Blab? Yes. image by Jed Record.

Ok, your first question might be “What is Blab?” Let me help. Blab ( is a new platform that lets anyone have their own show. Yes. You can live broadcast your own show on television. You can have up to 4 people on air in separate compartments on screen, have live audience participation, record the whole thing for people to view later. Not only that, but you can tweet to your Twitter fans that your show is about to start live, the audience can tweet that they are watching your show, and you can change the title of your show in the middle of the broadcast as the conversation evolves and tweet out that new title to your followers. Wild! It’s a game changer, in my mind. At the time of this writing the platform is still in beta, but is already interesting. This is Periscope, Meerkat, YouTube, podcasting and old time radio shows all in one.

Well, you know me, I love social media and I think that engaging with customers on social is a necessity. So I on Blab watching Tyler Anderson’s Social Media Social Hour (love it, highly recommend it) and he is great at really listening to his guests and pulling out important details to dive deeper into. He’s also very interested in getting to the live comments coming in from the audience. But I thought to myself that as Blab’s subscriber base grows, it may be challenging for one host to keep up with all the commentary and questions coming in. Hmmm. What to do?

I’m thinking that if you could have a person dedicated to audience participation and tweeting live while you’re recording, you could really get some additional engagement going on. Imagine, while you’re having your talk show about the product/service/topic of importance, as folks are asking questions, a representative from your company could be real-time answering any deep questions, tweeting out talking points for those who can’t attend live, and just generally increasing awareness. They can get the hash tags going, take notes for listeners, and keep track for the host while the host keeps the show going.

So if you are currently podcasting or streaming video, or even just thought about it, check it out, this Blab thing. It’s really neat! And remember that if you’ve got an extra set of hands, you could really maximize that participation and awareness.


How to Respond to Customer Reviews

How to Respond to Customer Reviews. image by Flavia Brandl.

How to Respond to Customer Reviews. image by Flavia Brandl.

Recently I’ve been asked for guidance on how companies should respond to customer reviews. So, I figured that readers of Socially Supportive may be wondering the same thing and decided to share my philosophy and a few pointers.

Frankie’s Response Philosophy: Customer Reviews
Whether it’s on your site or a consumer review site, a poor review of your product or service out there on the internet can really sting. If you’re anything like me, you want to reach out immediately to address the situation and make things right. People could see that, and this is your company! Before taking any action, take a step back and breathe.

Should You Respond?

  1. Re-read the customer’s review. Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and re-read the review. This can help you get past any residual hurt caused by the post and help you focus on what the customer has shared.
  2. Investigate the situation. Do some quick investigative work to locate the customer’s records and understand what happened from the company’s perspective. Remember, there are many vantage points of any interaction, and it’s helpful to gather all available information before deciding how to respond.
  3. Decide whether or not to respond. Next, ask yourself whether you should respond. This is an important step that is sometimes overlooked. There are some instances where a response from your company will not only not make the situation any better, but could, potentially, make it worse. Not every review warrants a response. If a customer review includes clearly unreasonable expectations, a reasonable person reading the review will likely discard that person’s review.

If you decide a response is warranted, follow the steps below.

Customer Review Response Steps

  1. Reply with an offer to investigate. Try saying “Let me look into this for you. This is not the experience we want you to have.” This does a few things. It admits no guilt or fault, but publicly shows the company is listening and wants customers to have a good experience.
  2. Ask the customer to contact you, or agree to let you contact him/her. This is important because it takes the conversation offline. The internet is largely a public domain, and your conversation online is not only with that customer, but also the rest of the internet. Unless the customer’s experience is very basic, other customers will not benefit from the minutia of this customer’s particular details. The point here is to let the customer (and the world) know that you are interested in getting to the bottom of things. If the customer does not respond, respect this. Again, the customer has the right to post an online review without the expectation of responding to you. Your other customers will recognize that you did offer assistance.
  3. Discuss the issue with the customer. When you are able to contact the customer, ask what happened, in their perspective.
  4. Do the right thing. If the customer has been wronged, do what you can to make the customer whole. Refund monies owed, repair damaged items, make the situation right. If the customer is not entitled to damages, be careful. Courtesy can be extended as a good will gesture; however giving customers concessions they are not actually entitled to can backfire. You don’t want your social media channel to be seen as a way to get free goods or services when no wrong has actually been done. Remember that a person who has posted about the wrong they’ve encountered is more likely to share the remedy publicly.
  5. Close the loop publicly. If you have been able to satisfy the customer and repair the relationship, feel free to publicly post about how glad you are that the customer gave you the chance to make things right. Do not post the remedy (what you gave the customer or did for the customer) publicly. Each situation is unique and you do not want to advertise a particular customer resolution.

Remember that any feedback at all is helpful to your company and, as cheesy as this sounds, really is a gift. Many of us (myself included) will not take the time to provide feedback; we just take our business elsewhere. Experiencing the business process through your customer’s perspective can be a truly eye-opening event.

Waiting Takes Too Long for Customers

Waiting Takes Too Long in Customer Support. image by Chris Hunkeler.

Waiting Takes Too Long in Customer Support. image by Chris Hunkeler.

Yes, you read that right. Waiting is hard and it takes too long. It’s boring. Have you noticed lately that waiting feels much more difficult than it used to? We do all kinds of things to avoid waiting. Today we tweet out our question or post it on Facebook in an attempt to avoid waiting on hold with companies. We go online and click that “chat now” button instead of walking into the store for assistance. We do not want to wait. For things like automotive repairs that cannot be completed online, UGGGHH! We have to actually go there? I hope they have wifi so I can watch something on my iPad. If not I’ll just have to scroll through Facebook on my phone.

I know, this conversation causes many people to start talking about the “good old days” before people were so connected and could sit still for a while patiently. I remember those days, and they were boring. We also had far fewer items on our to-do lists, if I remember correctly. But regardless of our positions on whether we should behave in this fashion, the reality today is that we do.

So, what do we do about it, as business people trying to please our customers? Maybe try one of these things:

  • Decrease wait times – Make every attempt to decrease your wait times. Perhaps increase staffing, decrease length of interaction (whether in person, on the phone, on social or chat)
  • Increase fun things – Even if you’ve decreased your wait times, increasing fun or distracting things will make wait time seem shorter. In person, provide a television, wifi, coloring books or games for children. On hold, play a local radio station or hold info-tainment (factual entertainment tidbits). Steer clear of bland hold music if you can.
  • Let me wait from afar – Have you called Delta lately? If they have a hold time, you can press a button to have them call you back when they’re ready for you. Then I don’t really feel like I’m holding. Or, like restaurants, give me a pager or text me when it’s my turn.

These are things about the customer experience we can control to create a more positive interaction. Some cost more than others. Hey, if a box of crayons helps my customer smile, then maybe it’s worth the price!

Look at me, look at me!

"Here's looking at you, kid."

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” (Photo credit: ⌡K)

One of the most important things we can do to ensure good customer service is to watch it. Literally, to observe the transactions our folks have with our customers. Leaders send memos, make rules, start programs, and then after watching for a bit, let those initiatives be and assume their team is adhering to those decisions. But our teams probably need continual guidance and education to ensure that they fully understand not only the letter of the policies we have, but also the spirit.

Our teams need to be initially inspired with the right guidance on how we want our customers to be treated. We should demonstrate and educate on not only the processes we need to adhere to but also the feeling we want our customers to have as they interact with our brands. But after that first exposure to the concepts, we should continue to check in on a regular basis to help keep our teams on track.

Paying attention to your customer service interactions on a regular basis not only ensures your team has the right level of support and guidance, but also helps limit the number of surprises you may find after weeks or months of being disconnected.

So, have a look at that Facebook page or that forum. Hey, this one applies to bricks and mortar as well, so if you have retail location or call center, pop on in for a visit.

Fix the Process

English: It's a simple picture of a magnifying...

English: It’s a simple picture of a magnifying glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you ask me, social media is like a magnifying glass, or those 10x magnifying mirrors women use to apply makeup in the morning. If you’ve ever used one of these, you know that you might feel like you need a good therapy session afterward.  Every problem, every blemish, everything that you’re already so self-critical of about yourself is made larger than life and reflected back at you.

Every flawed customer interaction can be magnified and served back to you as customer complaints on social media. And savvy executives are watching their own social spaces (go, you savvy execs out there!). This real-time access to customer experience and opinion is just what  companies have needed. But, if you’re running customer care for these spaces, oh boy, get ready.  The pressure is on to answer customer complaints, and fast.

Companies can rush to silence complaining customers by providing relief to just those customers that voice concern; however, without real change, those complaints will just continue to arrive on corporate social media properties.

So, how do you get to real change? Investigate, determine root cause, and correct. For example,  if customers complain about products arriving late, certainly help those customers that complain first, but then also dig deep to find causes and find out how often it happens. Do you have a call center? Chat reps? Do they get the same complaints? How many? And for how long? Was a policy or process change enacted around the time that the complaints started? Or has the process always been this way? Is there a reason the process has to remain in its current form, or is there a potential change that could produce an improved customer experience?

All this investigation requires an organizational culture that can collaborate and is open to change. Launching social media was a pretty big change a few years ago, so if you’ve been around a while, chances are you have a culture that can withstand some policy investigation (I hope). All this detective work takes some time, usually on the part of your social customer support team. First, they have to dig to the root of the issue for the initial customer, and then, they have to ask for other departments to pitch in and provide data on past complaints. Some departments may not want to share that they’ve had a number of complaints on an issue, but if the culture is really about improving customer experience, and you approach the request right, you might be surprised to find that the department is glad someone else noticed there was an issue (“finally” might be a word you hear once or twice).

So, if you’re up for it, give it a try. Be nice (No finger-pointing. We’re all in this together!) and use all your social charm inside the company to see what you can get done. It feels really good when you know that future customers won’t have that same-old issue anymore now that you’ve used the data from social media to solve a nagging process issue.

Say Cheese, Team!

Limburger cheese

Limburger cheese (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of personifying brand image, a great way to do this is with photos of your support team displayed proudly on your customer support tab. I’ve seen this done a few ways.

One popular choice is a static group shot depicting the entire social media customer support team. These look good, and I think customers may perceive a sense of closeness among team members. The image can convey to a customer “We are a close team, and if another team member helped you before, I can pick up seamlessly where she left off.” On the other hand, any team turnover on the team causes you to break out the camera again.

Another approach I’ve seen is  individual head shots of each team member. Some layouts allow the visitor to click-through to different team members, while others automatically scroll. Sometimes short bios are included, but I’m not convinced these are necessary. I think I like it better when the agent’s name is displayed simply with the head shot. With individual shots, I think using the same background for each photo helps add a consistent feel.

In either case, I think reps wearing crisp polos in company colors with the company logo adds a nice touch. It helps team members look pulled together. Professional photography looks best, but if that isn’t practical in keeping up with each team member, try to develop consistent guidelines around how to shoot the pictures. Use the same location, the same chair, have the photographer a set distance from the person being photographed, etc. Also, I would recommend getting formal releases from each employee and keeping them on file.

So, grab your team, grab a camera, and take some photos. Happy snapping!


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.