Social Media / Customer Service – they live hand in hand

The longer I live in the social streams and engage in chats, it becomes more and more evident to me that at the core of all marketing and strategic decisions, the customer service a company provides is a game changer. Social media seems to intersect with customer service. In fact, I am starting to believe they really go hand in hand.

I often talk with companies that want to monitor negative sentiment. The common misconception most of these shops have is that social media will make it all better. Immediately I ask what the complaints are about. All to common answers to this question are companied by a chuckle and admittance their really is a glaring customer service issue.

Social Media is not a bandage…

Let’s look at the like button, the thumbs up, the rating scale, the comments. A game companies play and misunderstand is to drive as many likes as possible. At a glance, a high number of likes or thumbs up is impressive, but the comments really tell the story. This is where customer service directly intersects with social media.

Social media is a customer service game changer…

Assume you have a bad experience at a local restaurant. Let’s also assume it is a national chain with a name most people recognize. Now let’s say the issue was not with the food, but with the length of time it took to be seated, to be acknowledged by a waiter, to get served and to get your check.

Read the comments, they tell a story…

How’s this look? – Great food, free parking, reasonably priced, awesome specials, took 45 minutes to get our lunch. Second time this has happened to me at this location.

hmmmmm…. that’s actually a damn good review up until the customer service part of that sentence. Wouldn’t you think companies, national brands with the budget and resources to create a social media division, are monitoring the social streams, looking for sentiment, accolades and negative reviews alike, and responding accordingly right there in the social streams for the entire internet to see.

There is a huge opportunity to reach out and touch someone…

I got an idea. What if the restaurant I refer to above began to monitor the social streams. What if they engaged with those consumers who complained about slow service? What if they reached out to them, thanked them for their positive comments and offered them a perk in exchange for their input on how to speed up customer service? What if they made them an online customer service evangelist and challenged them to report slow service again? What if these companies did their homework, listened to their customers (crowd sourcing and addressed the issues at hand and promised to monitor so it didn’t happen again?

Social media is not about going through the motions…

Customer service / social media – they go hand in hand. Bad customer service can destroy a killer social media strategy. Good customer service along with engaging customers online, thanking them for their props and suggestions, recognizing them and displaying how important their voice is to them, is a game changer.

Have you personally seen any glaring customer service issues that should be addressed? Social media allows your voice to be heard. Brands beware…..

2 Responses

  1. Matt Hodkinson
    Matt Hodkinson August 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm | | Reply

    You’re in the minority in realising this, Lewis. Social Media is a great communication tool, but it will not take remedial action, or do the hard work for you. It’s better to have a strategy or response in place before you find, or even seek, the negative sentiment towards your company/brand. I’m a fan of getsatisfaction.com for their Facebook integration – putting customer service into the hands of the customer. Communities can solve far more than the company, in many instances. Thanks for sharing.

  2. John Norris
    John Norris August 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm | | Reply

    I think you are on the mark if you are drawing the distinction between Social Media / Marketing and Social Media / Customer Service.

    A traditional Customer Service department may be best equipped to handle much of the interaction that can go on in Social Media. (Matt, I see getsatisfaction.com as a possible tool in this way). Marketing seems to me to be more of a broadcasting effort.

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