October 31, 2011 § 21 Comments
Back in August, social media and networking expert Peter Shankman tweeted to Morton’s Steakhouse jokingly requesting a steak to be waiting for him at Newark Airport. Morton’s had seen his request and upon landing, sure enough, there was someone from Morton’s wait for Shankman. Instantly, through Twitter, news of Morton’s attentive online customer service presence spread.
Companies throughout various industries are quickly realizing that they can use not only use social media to promote their brand, but they can also use it to engage in a new form of customer service. By becoming more social with customers, customers are able to see that there is a face behind the brand and that a person is listening to them. Customers will want to interact with a brand in which they know they can get great customer service. The Social Media for Customer Service Summit last week addressed how brands can leverage their social media presence to improve customer-brand relations.
One key point that was addressed was the necessity to determine the difference between those users who are using social media to complain for the sake of complaining or to gain free stuff versus those who are genuinely looking for answers that they couldn’t get another way. Brands shouldn’t feel obligated to answer every post, but should be reactive to concerns made through social networks. Additionally, generic responses can appear to be the equivalent of not responding at all or even erode the brand’s credibility.
One unique thing about using social media for customer service is that it ‘s a very open channel. If someone posts a concern, it’s automatically made public to your followers. By ignoring public concern, brands make it very easy to instantly alienate its customers. Respond and you’ve addressed a concern easily, potentially avoiding a future larger issue. More than one customer usually has the same issue so you could be helping a large customer base with each post.
Another way brands can use social media to build effective customer service and maintain loyal customers is to keep their cool when dealing with disgruntled customers. As mentioned above, social media is very an open channel, and everyone will see the entire communication. By deleting negative posts, or responding coldly instead of offering a solution, customers will see that you care more your company than your customers. Kip Wetzel, of Comcast, points out that you can maintain customer relations while defending your brand. Just don’t do it in a way that tells customers they’re always wrong, because they’re generally supposed to be right. If it seems that the discussion might be lengthy, carry the conversation into a direct message or offer that they can contact the respondent via a direct e-mail.
In order to utilize social media as an effective customer service outlet, brands have to be timely and responsive. Essentially, there needs to be people “manning the lines,” just as you would within a phone-based customer service department. DML’s REACH v4 allows brands to manage all social media and application outlets through one platform. Through REACH, brands will be able check all accounts simultaneously and frequently, allowing the brand to share news and post responses in a timely manner. Additionally, brands will be able to efficiently direct questions and issues to the appropriate departments.
There are many brands utilizing social networking as a customer service tool, and there are even others who may be hurting themselves by not taking advantage of the customer engagement through these networks. A couple examples of successful customer service within social media include:
KLM Airlines is a prime example of how a company is creating an excellent image for themselves through social networks. Last year, when volcanic ash over Iceland interrupted air travel. KLM immediately developed a Facebook app in which people could get up-to-date information and rebook flights. More recently, they launched a 24/7 customer service initiative on Facebook and Twitter. A few minutes spent on their Facebook page makes it evident that they are holding true to their promise. Most questions and concerns were addressed within the hour of being posted, and many included the prompt that KLM would be sending that person a direct message to get further details so they can assist them.
Visit KLM’s Facebook page here.
Another example of strong customer service on social media is by Zappos.com. Well regarded for its customer service over all, @Zappo_Service, their customer service specific Twitter account, has 10,500 followers. Each customer service rep introduces themselves, giving a personal face to a general account. Zappos responds to everything ranging from a customer expressing their love for their shoes, to wanting to know how they can track their order and even just responding to a “How are you?” tweet. Reading through the Twitter feed almost reads like a chat room, since the response is so interactive and quick. Zappos response time is extraordinarily quick, and usually resulted in extensive conversation feeds with customers.
Visit Zappos Twitter page here.
Customers don’t want to interact with brands who aren’t focused on their customers. Too many frustrating experiences may leave customers apprehensive about dealing with traditional customer service departments. By using social media to create a unique, personalized customer service experience, brands can put customers at ease knowing that they can get an answer to a question by simply logging on to Facebook or Twitter.
Direct Message Lab provides a central platform , REACH v4, for brands to effectively build, manage, and analyze their social, mobile and app-based marketing. For more information, check out www.directmessagelab.com, and follow us on Twitter, @dmlinfo.