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Building Continuity Between Your Customer Service and Social Media Strategies

At the core of most successful businesses are two key commonalities, a good product and attentive customer service.   Social media has proved to be a game changer in the way consumers experience a brand and how they express their experience with your brand.  As consumers become more connected they are turning to social networks like Facebook to express their positive and negative experiences with particular brands.  This shift offers a unique opportunity for brands to not only get to know their customers better, but also address their negative experiences and make them right.

Simply having a Facebook page or Twitter account is not enough when it comes to social customer service.  You can’t simply make yourself accessible and wait for people to come to you – in that same vein, responding to negative experiences with a generic apology will do more harm than good.  So, what’s the best approach to social customer service?  It’s all about building continuity with your existing customer service strategy.  Like in traditional customer service – social is all about being accessible, building trust and managing your reputation.  I’ve chosen to provide you with what I believe are the most critical areas of successful customer service in the digital space.

1.) Consistently Personal & Empathetic:

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and remember they voluntarily chose to do business with you.  They’ve been disappointed or wronged and have elected to speak up and share their experience publicly.  Use this as a unique opportunity to win back their trust by providing the personal touch that comes along with being empathetic and sincere.  Simply because you have a “standard protocol” for handling customer complaints doesn’t mean you need to be robotic about your delivery.

2.) Proactive Listening:

Don’t wait for disappointed customers to come to you, seek them out with social listening.  Actively search Twitter and Facebook for conversations mentioning your brand.  When you see an opportunity to “right the ship” insert yourself into the conversation and ask the customer for the opportunity to assist with their issue.

3.) Allocating Responsibility:

In addition to having a social media specialist providing customer service, be sure you’ve allocated a team to your specialist for assisting with problem solving and resolutions.  Establish a dedicated e-mail for social customer service issues and add your assembled team to the distribution list.  Simply sending someone through to a generic 800 number or customer service e-mail address is not the personal approached warranted by the situation – a customer has actively reached out to you in a very public manner, do right by them or pay the price – publicly.

4.) Offer Resolution:

Always offer a resolution to your customer’s issue, even if you can’t repair the experience – try and repair the trust.  Ensure your customers that their voice is being heard and that actions are being taken.  When a monetary resolution can be offered or is warranted be certain to deliver this promptly.

5.) Keep Your Word:

Always follow through!  If you tell your customer you will be providing them with a resolution be sure you keep your word.  Not following through will ultimately catch up with you in a firestorm of anger and vocal customers.

6.) Close The Loop:

Make sure you provide a definitive conclusion to the engagement.  This should be done both personally and publically.  In many cases customer service conversations are taken out of public view due to the exchange of sensitive information.  However, once the engagement has ended always provide a conclusive post to the initial comment assuring your community that the problem has been resolved.

7.) Follow Up:

Keeping in line with being consistently empathetic and personal, always go back and follow up with these consumers down the road.  This simple gesture will go a long way in assuring your customers that you recognize and appreciate their business and genuinely care about their experiences with your brand.

Remember, at the end of the day it’s all about being human.  Provide your customers with genuine and attentive customer service experience both on and off line and you’ll be sure to retain their business and advocacy.

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