Social Media as a Customer Service Communication Channel

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Many businesses understand the value of marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or even Pinterest. They regularly post information about services, products, or events — fully expecting potential clients or customers to respond. In the same way, when social media users post a question or complain about a service issue on those same sites, they are also expecting a response. Businesses simply cannot ignore social customer service and be successful.

“The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers,” said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, a leading advisory firm. “It’s crucial that organizations implement approaches to handling social media now. The effort involved in addressing social media commentary is not good cause to ignore relevant comments or solvable issues.”

Embrace Social Customer Service

Ignoring social customer service is not an option on any social media channel that a business is using for marketing purposes. If a company has a Google+ or Facebook page, customers will expect to be able to reach the company through that page.

Organizations must embrace social customer service or, as Gartner put it, “face the same level of wrath from customers as those that ignore today’s basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls.”

The question for businesses then is not whether to offer customer service on Facebook or Twitter, but rather how best to offer that service.

Monitor Social Media for Service Opportunities

Businesses must regularly monitor posts on leading social media sites, including searching for brand conversations that are taking place on users’ own pages and streams.

Writing on Mashable, Harry Rollason, with Useful Social Media, a consulting firm, pointed out that monitoring social media in the context of customer service is simply about understanding what is being said in customer conversations.

“Monitor social interaction to spot issues and solve problems before they become crises,” Rollason wrote. “Social customer service delivery involves dealing with criticism and complaints in public, often in front of an audience of millions. If you’re going to prevent a small problem growing into something worse, you need to have a detailed understanding of what you need to respond to.”

Unify Customer Service Efforts

Businesses should integrate social media service into their current, successful customer service efforts. Hiring a social media specialist who sits in the far corner, yards away from the rest of the customer service team is not a social customer service solution.

Rather the same team that answers customer questions concerns by telephone, email, chat, or text, should be the same team that manages rants and raves on Twitter and Reddit too.

This unified time will bring continuity to the customer service experience regardless of how a customer wishes to communicate.

Have a Social Response Framework

Great customer service organizations have response frameworks, which guide customer service employees and ensure that customers are treated fairly.

This framework should include a means for employees to rate the question or concern, and, based on that rating, follow a known path to resolution. As an example, a company may want to acknowledge customer concerns in social media, but move the resolution to another medium. So if a customer posts a blistering account on Facebook, the business might respond saying, “Wow, I can certainly understand why you’re upset, I would be too. I want to make this right for you. Would you mind if we exchanged email addresses or phone numbers? You can reach me personally at…”

Put a Human Face on Your Customer Service

Social media allows users to connect on a personal and human level. This should be especially true where customer complaints are concerned.

Putting a human face on customer service will often cause a customer to calm down. That customer or client is probably mad about a situation, and frequently he or she will be civil to a real person, who is trying to help.

Putting a human face on customer service also shows other clients or customers who might be reading the thread that a company honestly cares about its clients.


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