Will It Blend? How to Mix Offline Efforts with Online Customer ServicePosted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on March 26, 2010 at March 26, 2010 9:10 AM
Customer service and social media go together like Facebook and recreational stalking. Okay - maybe it's not that bad, but the web has become an open forum for customer feedback. Why wait for the next available representative when you can complain about your broken internet to a few hundred of your closest friends on Twitter? Is your washing machine on the fritz? Why write a letter to some faceless executive when you can post a rant on your blog to thousands of dedicated readers instead?
It's true. Social media can help solve customer problems. But it doesn't happen automatically.First, companies must be tuned into the social media channels where people are talking about them. They also must have an internal process in place that allows them to be helpful in their response. Only then can they can turn a potentially negative situation or dissatisfied customers into allies.
We're finding that when it comes to customer service via social media, thoughtful often means taking the conversation offline.
Padilla monitors hundreds of conversations for our clients daily. We see the good ... and the not-so-good. The trick is deciding when someone is just looking to pick a fight and when there's a real opportunity to win over a customer.
When it comes to effective customer service, the same rules of engagement apply whether you're solving customer problems from a call center, in person or from a laptop. The question you need to keep top of mind is this: Can anything be done to remedy this situation?
Recently, one of our clients had a great opportunity to test the waters when a customer posted a lengthy rant entitled "Why Does [Manufacturing Company] Hate Its Customers?" on his blog. The customer aired his frustration over not being able to access the company's online support database.
We flagged the post and recommended our client respond by posting a comment with the name of someone the customer could contact for direct help (in the spirit of Twitter feed @comcastcares). Our client (the ever customer-service minded) did us one better. They created a customer service ticket and contacted him directly - via phone - to troubleshoot the problem.
Just as our client was preparing to post a comment to the blog explaining the action taken, the blogger posted an update of his own. He gave the company kudos for listening and explained that they'd helped solve the problem.
The critic became ally. Mission accomplished!
Good customer service goes beyond resolution. Our client called the blogger a few days later to make sure the problem was fully solved. As a result, the blogger posted a lengthy account detailing the great service provided and expressing his appreciation for our client listening and making sure they took care of him.
Still not convinced?
If your customers are online, then using social media for customer service is absolutely a good idea and it's something you should be doing (hint: they are online). However, it's easy to get social media tunnel vision. Sometimes you need to step back and think about what you can do that would be most helpful. Oftentimes that means moving the interaction into "real life."
Are you using social media for customer service? How's it working?
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This is some great insight Michelle Haschka Wright. Local cover band FlashMob! (http://www.flashmobrocks.com) employs similar tactics when developing metrics around which songs are working live and which are simply duds. We use Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/FlashMob/98811649175), Twitter (http://twitter.com/flashmobrocks), and MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/flashmobrocks) to communicate directly with our audience in a presumably sober forum (unlike typical 2:00am post-show b.s. sessions, where everyone "will be a star someday" yadda yadda yadda) to ascertain core competencies as well as define opportunities for improvement within our live performances, all in attempt to increase our fan-base and rule the universe.
Posted by: Grant Wright at March 26, 2010 1:36 PM
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