We’re seeing more and more companies using tools like Twitter and Facebook to reach customers and address service issues. I personally am loving this, and have been helped by numerous companies this way (sure beats calling an 800 number).
In High Tech, High Touch Customer Service, author Micah Solomon covers eight “unbreakable rules of social media customer service.” Whether you’re currently using social media for customer service or simply considering it, these are worth examining.
1. Avoid the fiasco formula: a digital stitch in time saves nine (million)
Solomon says that the longer you wait to address a serious issue that’s been brought to the public’s attention via social media, the bigger the fiasco it becomes. He uses this formula to illustrate his point:
small error + slow response time = colossal PR disaster
2. Lie back and think of England: digital arguments with customers are an exponentially losing proposition
The same rule applies in any customer service scenario: arguing with the customer never works. But it’s even worse when it’s done online, because the whole world (or at least the whole Twitterverse) can see you looking like a jerk.
3. Turn twankers into thankers: reach out directly to online complainers
When someone bashes your company on a social channel, it should be your mission to quickly resolve his unhappiness and make him a satisfied customer again. If you succeed, he should be more than happy to revoke his previously damaging comment.
4. Consider getting a complainer on the telephone (with permission) – even if the relationship started in social media land
People tend to be more publicly irate on social sites than they might be on the phone, so if a situation escalates on Twitter, see if you can call the customer to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid to move the conversation to another platform.
5. Get happy outcomes into the public eye
Just as they say an unhappy customer tells infinitely more people about his experience than a happy one, it’s your job to try to get that negative comment deleted once you’ve resolved the issue, or at least get the customer to then share a happy update.
6. Use social media and personal email to make your customers feel important
Pay attention to customers who follow you on social channels. Thank them when they say something nice about your brand, both publicly and privately, says Solomon.
The only way you will know if someone is talking about your brand is if you’re paying attention. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter searches to show whenever anyone mentions your brand so you can quickly respond (see #1).
8. If your social responses are inferior to–or not integrated with–your other channels, they’re hurting your brand
Have you ever been on a website that encourages you to “email us!” and promises a response within 24 hours? But when you do email you only hear crickets? My point (really, Solomon’s) is if you say you’ll respond to customer service issues on social media, do it. Otherwise customers will get more irritated and talk even more loudly about you. And you don’t want that.
Solomon provides great, actionable tips for creating a solid customer service strategy using social media. Read High Tech, High Touch Customer Service to start developing your own plan.
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 andInternet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Small Business Trends, CorpNet, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
Photo: Phil Dowsing Creative on Flickr