Delivering Awesome Customer Service through Social Media

It's not enough to reach a customer service benchmark. Businesses need to do more than add more phone lines for faster response time. Social media sites are the perfect medium -- not limited by wait times or busy signals. Your customers are on social media, so why not serve them here as well?

The Wharton School of Business calls customer service "the ignored side of social media." Get a jump on competitors and start focusing customer service where customers hang out: Facebook and Twitter. shutterstock_174334961

The World is On Facebook

Pew Research Center reports that 57% of all American adults use Facebook, as well as 73% of kids 12-17. Adults use it more often, according to Pew. Almost 65% check in every day if only to avoid FOMO, ie. fear of missing out.

Using social media to deliver customer service really isn't all that different than traditional phone-based service. Social Media Examiner recommends following these three key steps on Facebook, none of which should surprise you:

  • Answer questions quickly (constantly monitor your page).
  • Be the first to report a problem; break bad news yourself.
  • Update your fans about how you're working on a known problem. Build on your customer service by fixing it ASAP.

Let Customers Take to Twitter With Their Concerns

TechCrunch says Twitter is the fourth-most popular social media site, but considering Numbers 2 and 3 are the social business site LinkedIn and Pinterest, it's safe to say it's the second most popular site for ongoing, interactive conversation.

Moreover, it works well for many customers. Take the Southwest Airlines customer who resolved an overcharge via Twitter. "I originally tried to call," he told a Fox reporter, "and there was a 90-minute wait." But his tweet to Southwest--which CNN reports has the lowest number of customer complaints--got a response and a $75 voucher within five minutes. A refund arrived within two days.

Follow-Up Customer Service Replies with Valuable Information

Customers have to Like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter to contact you through them. Use that social interaction to your advantage. Once their crises are over, continue to engage them with more than just requests to complete a satisfaction survey.

Speaking to a Wharton panel, Dennis Stoutenbergh, a cofounder of a social media consultancy, said too many C-suite executives continue to fear social media and insist on using it only when they can see an ROI. Customer care is different, though, and if companies fail to keep customers engaged, "someone else will," Stountenbergh warned.

Engagement means letting customers know you value them. Give them information they can use. This can be a little challenging with Twitter's 140-character limit, but it can be done by highlighting a theme, such as fraud protection or introducing new staff. Scroll through this Twitter feed from a security company for inspiration on how to dole out good information and paint yourself in a positive light.

Appeal to the Customer with Emotional Video Content

Back in 2007, a major storm forced JetBlue to cancel 1,000 flights, leading, naturally, to customer outrage. CEO David Neeleman released a video on YouTube in which he apologized and laid out what the airline was doing to help stranded customers. He didn't blame the storm, but instead spoke to customers empathetically to create an effective apology video.

That year, JetBlue scored at the top of J.D. Power's customer satisfaction survey for low-cost airlines, a position it continues to hold. Using video as an asset and social media as a megaphone the company was able to successfully spin an inconvenient situation in a positive light.

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