With regards to social media, most of what we read (and I have written about) relates to marketing. Yes, social media is a powerful and important piece of the marketing mix. But social media is also a paramount customer service and support channel. And I believe, that for the most part, there continues to be significant failure of customer service social media.
Have you ever been on a brand Facebook page and noticed that it is primarily used for people to b*tch and moan about the brand? I think this is most prevalent for cable companies, mobile phone operators’ pages, but it is certainly not limited there. Why is such a public platform used for complaints and sticking up the virtual middle finger? The answer is simple and two-fold.
Second, it is your fault … the brand owner. You modify the behavior of your audience to say, “I deal with you here. If you are writing something on my Facebook page, I am certainly going to do something here.” Worst off, you might not reply at all giving the troubled customer a place to unleash their anger.
You do not want a prime marketing channel that should be used for positive product/service reinforcement and good-spirited engagement with your audience to be the same place people tell you everything that is wrong with what you do.
So how do you keep Facebook and other social channels from being the b*tch funnel? To start with, you must be committed to customer service and expeditious issue resolution. If this is missing you can not cover up disregard the customer and social media platforms will continue to be a place where unhappy customers magnify your customer service shortcomings. Assuming that you are committed to customer service, define another platform to serve as your frontline place to handle customer support issues. A place to report issues, find service updates and information and get help from your customer service department as well as other people with the same product. When you get complaints and issues on your Facebook page simply reply, “We are very sorry to hear about your problem. We are committed to resolving your issue immediately. Please contact us at ___ as we will do everything we can to satisfy your needs.” … or something of that nature. Most importantly, make sure you stand behind your words.
What I am recommending is that most of your existing social media channels NOT be used for customer service issues, but rather you have one portal that is used for product/service resolution that is labeled and branded specifically for customer service. I am also recommending that social media be used for customer service and support in other ways. Specifically, use social media to:
– Listen to what customers are saying. Continually monitor your brand name and keywords of your product group or vertical industry to make sure you best understand needs, wants, motivations, and values of your target segments.
– Proactively engage with prospects and customers. Have conversations. Build relationships. View social media as an opportunity to convince your target segments of your commitment and expertise to the vertical you serve.
– Share customer feedback and ways that customers’ input has shaped your offering. Reinforce that you are listening AND executing as a result of valuable customer input.
– And by all means, make sure all your conversations and responses are done with complete empathy for your audience, but at the same time fully defend your brand.
Social media customer service and support really comes down to being proactive versus reactive. You need to be proactive in listening across the entire social space. Take what you hear and learn to reshape your product roadmap and offering. Make sure your connection and conversations are continuous because customer value morphs and evolves as a function of a changing consumer and competitive products/services. Stay on top and proactively build added value into your offering and enrich the entire customer experience.
With regards to customer issues and resolutions, which is reactive in nature, work to move these issues out of your existing social media marketing platforms. This is not going to happen over night. But with continued commitment to customer service and directing issue resolution to an alternative portal, you can change the tide.
Know your social media dos and don’ts.
Make It Happen!