The Customer Service Channel You Might Be Overlooking

Customer Service


by Susan Payton

So your company has the customer service 800 number down pat. You’ve implemented email and chat, and those seem to be working well. What other channel could you possibly add to provide a better experience for your customers?

Social media!

More companies of every size are using channels like Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers and address their product questions and issues in real time. If you’re not using social, you’re missing out.

social crm

Why Social Works

You’ve probably heard the adage that an angry customer tells dozens more people about her experience than a happy one does. That equation amplifies with social media. So whether or not your company has a presence on social sites, you may have customers complaining there.

By being there, you do two things:

  • You monitor what’s being said about your brand, for better or worse
  • You nip the frustration in the bud by addressing the problem

And because we live in an instant gratification society, people are sick of pressing buttons and waiting on hold to reach a customer service rep over the phone. Social media allows for instant (or near instant, anyway) access to someone who can help with their problems.

How It Works

I’ve become a huge proponent of social customer service ever since I tweeted Dell that I had a problem several years ago. I’d tried the traditional phone route, only to get the usual runaround (groan if you can relate). So I found a Vice President’s Twitter ID and tweeted that I was upset and had a problem.

Within minutes, a customer service rep had responded. I didn’t even know they had an entire social team for just this purpose. Suffice it to say, they took care of the issue promptly. And guess which brand of computers I continue to buy? Yep. Dell.

Dell is actually a fantastic case study for social media monitoring and customer service, I learned as a result of that tweet. I was actually invited to participate in a Consumer Advisory Panel several years ago because I voiced my frustration on Twitter.

I’ve visited their headquarters and seen their Social Media Listening Command Center, where customer service reps pay close attention to who’s tweeting about the brand, answering questions, and helping customers with issues. It’s a model that other companies are looking to replicate.

How You Can Go Social

You don’t have to be as big as Dell to start using social media for customer service. There are programs that cost a pretty penny to monitor what’s being said about your brand, but if that’s not in the budget yet, use a free or affordable tool like Hootsuite.

Set up columns to track mentions of your brand name (with and without the @ for Twitter). Set up a Twitter profile specifically for customer service requests, and publicize it on your site. Train your customer service reps to respond quickly to questions and complaints, as your customers will expect you to be faster on social sites than on email or phone.

Your goal should be to keep customers happy — and to keep them from sharing their frustrations across the Internet. Monitor what’s being said, and even if it’s not specifically a product issue or question, respond and offer to help in any way that you can.

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books:101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter@eggmarketing.
Ringio is happy to have Susan as a guest writer.

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