When undertaking social media training sessions, one question we’re always asked is how to deal with customer service enquiries via social media. Understandably, it’s also the reason many organisations are wary of taking the step into the social media world with many concerned it simply provides an open forum for negative comments and complaints.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
Social media has opened up the door which allows organisations to ‘be in the room’ and join those conversations, an opportunity which should not be underestimated. It’s likely people will already be discussing your business/service/company/brand online so why not get involved? Not only will you be able to resolve any potential problems or complaints, there’s also a strong chance you’ll collect a few fans along the way.
One of my favourite definitions of social media is from American firm, TVB and it goes like this: “Online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.”
It’s important to remember we’re all consumers and more importantly, we’re all human so if you’re wondering how to respond to a query or complaint on behalf of a brand or organisation, just think about how you’d respond if that person was standing in front of you. You’d be polite, honest and try your best to offer a solution which would either solve the problem or keep them happy until it could be properly addressed by the appropriate member of staff or department. Simple right?
Of course, there will always be those who can’t be satisfied or who just like to complain and in these cases you need to move the discussion offline. Ask them to direct message their contact details and availability so their problem can be resolved via phone or email.
Not only does social media provide a more cost-effective channel for customer service, it has also created a culture where brands and organisations are more accountable to the consumers they serve. In the past, reputations were created and spread via word of mouth or printed news items but now an experience with an undercooked meal or impolite sales assistant can be quickly disseminated to thousands of people in a mere matter of seconds.
I recently visited newly opened bar and restaurant in Harrogate for an evening meal and drinks. One hour after our order had been taken and there was still no sign of food. Close to chewing on the table napkins because we were so hungry, I quickly fired off an angry tweet expressing my disappointment and within minutes the manager was at our table to offer his apologies and ensure the entire meal and drinks were free of charge. Now I’m taking a wild guess he didn’t see my tweet and pick me out of the 50 or so diners by my tiny profile picture, but nevertheless this quick resolution shamed me into deleting my negative post and instead sharing a photo of my epic burger and fries. #delicious.
As a new venue, this particular restaurant obviously had a lot to lose by not resolving unhappy customers’ issues and is a great example of how important offline customer service is in supporting positive online activity. So how can brands and organisations make sure their customers are kept happy both on and offline? Here’s team Acceleris’ top tips for social media customer service:
• Set up a robust procedure for monitoring and dealing with comments and complaints. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for handling queries and check they have access to the information they need to do so.
• Be honest, open and polite. Social media is not the place for making false promises. If you tell a customer you will help resolve their problem then you have no excuses for not delivering.
• Ensure high service levels both off and online. Whilst providing a high level of service on social media is important, remember exactly the same principles apply to the physical, telephone and email service offered. True customer satisfaction is only achieved if all channels are equally effective
• Move the conversation offline. After the initial response, ask the customer to direct message their details and ensure their query is followed up via phone or email.
• You can’t win them all. Unfortunately there will always be customers who can’t be placated so if you sense a resolution might be unachievable then make it clear you’ve done all you can to help but require their cooperation if it is to be taken further.
Still have questions about handling customer service via social media? Give us a call or drop us a line to discuss your social media training needs and we’ll be happy to help.