Utilizing Social Media for Customer Service

Jasonmillerca
Jason Miller Senior Manager, Content Marketing , LinkedIn

Posted on April 27th 2011

Your customers may be asking the very same thing Roger Waters famously asked on the 1979 Pink Floyd classic The Wall,  Is There Anybody Out There?

In today’s competitive landscape customer service is more important than ever, and a company’s reputation for satisfying clients has never been so vulnerable. Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can level the playing field enabling businesses of all sizes to interact directly with customers like never before.

The voice of the consumer has never been more powerful, or influential, and has potential to spread virally in an instant. Reacting quickly can often quell negative comments and amplify positive ones. Over 58% of tweeters who have tweeted about a bad experience, have never received a response from the offending company.

Companies now have the option to not only take a phone call, but take a Tweet or a Facebook post, drill down into it, see who wrote it, and respond accordingly. Of course don’t expect social media to replace you customer service department, but instead look for it to increase your overall customer satisfaction.

Your customer service issues are likely to fall into one of three categories:

1.    Product Issues: customers experiencing difficulty with a product or service
2.    Suggestions for product or service improvements customers would like to see in the future
3.    Better ways to market, sell, support or communicate with customers

Be prepared to respond quickly and cordially. In some cases you may need to “kill them with kindness“in an effort to offer an experience that exceeds their expectations.

If a customer has a serious issue with no quick resolution, offer an email address in order to take the conversation offline. I would suggest a dedicated “unlisted” special email address, think “Batphone,” to specifically deal with these types of issues. Let the customer know that their message is important, and that you are doing your best to rectify.  Your number one goal is to turn a bad experience into a good one, save the customer relationship, and get positive word of mouth. After the issue is solved, following up with a quick personal message can encourage the customer to praise your responsiveness.

You can measure the success of your efforts by defining metrics which reflect your overall strategy, i.e. cost saving, service improvement, etc. I would suggest starting with the following metrics:

  • Responsiveness- Average reply time.
  • Complaints – Is the number decreasing?
  • Praise – Is this number increasing?
  • Quick resolutions – Are you able to eliminate calls to customer service

Make it a priority to review the progress of your customer service strategy and make adjustments accordingly. Send out an online survey through your social channels asking how your company is doing in regards to customer service.

Solving these issues in real time through a company’s social channels shows your dedication, and transparency, to your customers. So the next time your customer tweets "Is there anybody out there", you can proudly respond with "Yes, how can we help you?".

Do you use you social media channels to enhance your customer service efforts? Which tools do you find most useful? Do you have any success stories to share?

Jasonmillerca

Jason Miller

Senior Manager, Content Marketing , LinkedIn

Jason Miller is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Linkedin leading the content marketing and social media strategy for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. 

Previously he was the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Marketo. He led the company's social media efforts by increasing engagement, optimizing for lead generation, and driving revenue. He also played a key role in developing Marketo’s content strategy by developing many of the top performing resources and most viral visual content pieces.  

Before Marketo, Jason spent more than ten years at Sony Music entertainment developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. 

When he is not building campaigns, creating remarkable content, and tracking the ROI of social, he is winning awards as a concert photographer, singing 80's metal Karaoke, and winning at Seinfeld trivia.

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Comments

"Over 58% of tweeters who have tweeted about a bad experience, have never received a response from the offending company" is such a mind boggling statistic. The good news is that businesses are catching on quick.

For instance, I'm seeing on the news that airline customers are now using Twitter to get better and quicker customer service, flight information, and file complaints. For us, our customer service happens every day when people ask us social media questions on Twitter, and on our Facebook page wall.

The best thing about holding your your customer service on social media is that it is transparent and it's for everyone to see. It's a win win, because perhaps a question you answered for someone else also answers a question for 5 other people who are looking at your wall. Thus, saving you from having 5 more conversations about the same thing.

Great article, thanks for the post!

Gwen Woltz, Wahine Media http://wahinemedia.com

Hi Gwen,

 

Thanks for the comment! Great point about it being a win win situation. I was at a monitoring social media conference and the SM folks from Virgin were talking about the airlines use of social, they seem to be diving in head first and doing it well. Virgin had two people who did nothing but handle their Twitter accounts, that's the way to do it for a big company!

 

All the best,

Jason

Hi Gwen,

 

Thanks for the comment! Great point about it being a win win situation. I was at a monitoring social media conference and the SM folks from Virgin were talking about the airlines use of social, they seem to be diving in head first and doing it well. Virgin had two people who did nothing but handle their Twitter accounts, that's the way to do it for a big company!

 

All the best,

Jason

Hi Jason,

 

Thanks for your article! I am quite suprised that a SM marketing manager thinks about customer care issues. Doing so, you belong to a rare species. As I am on the customer care side and currently think about integrated marketing, sales and service concepts based on a holistic social media strategy, I would be pleased to hear more from you!

 

Kind regards,

 

Matthias

Hi Matthias,

 

Thanks for the comment and the insight! As I constantly monitor the Zoomerang brand name in the social-sphere I do come across a customer care issue or two on occasion. I do my best to respond quickly and let them know that we are listening. It really gets me thinking about how SM can enhance their experience. So I think by default I do wear a customer service hat when necessary. 

All the best,

Jason

Excellent article; thank you!  This is a huge issue of which many firms are not even vaguely aware.  They fail to understand that even though someone on Twitter for example, may have only a handful of follower, that Tweet will be searchable forever.  Do they really want a potential customer to see an unaddressed complaint?

Hi Paul,

Good point! Not a good idea to have an unaddressed complaint sitting in the social world. Especially if it starts to escalate. A brand can get beat up pretty quick without a response. 

 

Thanks

Jason

Very informative post.

It's amazing to think that there's still a large number of businesses out there unwilling to turn social media to their advantage. Customer service is the perfect example of an area to which improvements can be made through enhanced social presence, and it would be nice to see more companies jumping at the opportunity. Heck, most consumers probably expect it nowadays.

Hi Joseph, 

Thanks for the comment. I agree with you completely. SM is yet another channel that companies can utilize to enhance the customer experience and it is amazing to think that so many businesses are still ignoring it. 

Best,

Jason

 

A very interesting article and it is really true. I recently tweeted (complained) about the services of various companies including KFC and have not received a single reply from them until this day. There was this hosting company in which I've even @mention them but have received no reply.

It would seem to me that many businesses still use social media tools to push information to their customer rather than using it to listen to conversations. They may have Twitter and Facebook accounts and may also be publishing frequent content but if they fail to listen, they aren't really that social after all. 

Some companies still fail to realize the importance of social media in bringing their customer satisfaction ratings up. But many are catching up with this great too for bringing in satisfied customers. It's really just a matter of learning how to utilize social media to its fullest potential.

It is interesting to see which companies ignore social media and which ones embrace it. From a customer service perspective, as we have seen with numerous "how not to do" examples over the past few years, ignorance is no excuse. Engagement is key and as the generations grow up, the platform for engagement changes. Kids today would never sit on a telephone to a call centre for hours...they just vent/broadcast. Business needs to adapt. Where we used to just call for sales leads, or visit trade shows there is now the Internet...social media is another, massive channel. Why would you spend loads of money on tv or display ads and ignore social? Makes no sense. From a tool perspective. SoDash enables full engagement rather than monitoring with the likes of Radion6. The USP is the artificial intelligence algorithms that enable much improve workflows. Already there are quite a few blue chips using SoDash for customer service. Simon - thesandpit