In today’s tech-driven society, one thing is for sure for brands at large, social media has brought the world to your doorstep, 24/7, 365 days a year, and there is no going back. Just as you would never do without great IT support in this day and age, the same goes for customer service. Social media and customer service now go hand-in-hand, and although I would like to say all hands on deck, when it comes to “socially driven” customer service, it needs to be handled by the savviest of the savvy, the coolest of the cool, and most importantly the most well-rounded, attentive, caring, and engaging people you can find…and as they say, finders keepers. Once you find your customer service gem(s) in the rough, you will want to keep them on board at all costs.
Remember the old saying “the customer is always right”? That still stands true to this day. But even if they are not right, you had better understand that thousands, if not millions, of people are paying attention to how you handle your customer service engagement day in and day out. Unlike customer service handled on the phone, via email, and in person, connecting, engaging, and assisting the public at large on Facebook, Twitter, and various other platforms, can have an immediate impact, both positive and negative on fans and followers everywhere, every minute of every day. Language and tone are key, but being flexible, understanding, empathetic, and most of all attentive and timely to the needs of those who are seeking you out, will keep connections thriving and positive sentiment flowing.
The Personal Touch
With so many friends and followers to get advice and insight from, when it comes to choosing a brand’s product or service these days, the average person no longer needs to wait around for you to guide them. They have vast opinions, tips, and visuals at their fingertips that can help them decide on the next step before you can even get a single Facebook post or tweet in front of their eyes. This is where customer service can make all the difference in the world and why the role of customer service representative has evolved and merged into what many now call their “community manager.” Your community manager offers that personal connection by being involved early on in what is now called “The Conversation Economy.” Just like in the real world, fostering long-term relationships takes time, and social media is no exception to the rule. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. People want to be heard, and if you want their business you need to be actively engaged and listening, and always willing to provide that extra personal touch.
Always Go The Extra Distance
In relationships, it is the little things that make a difference. The same goes for social media. If you are dealing with “social service” then be just that: be social. After you have solved a problem for someone, let that person know that you appreciate their understanding and moreover that you are not simply ready to push them aside. Keep the connection alive, extend yourself to them, let them know that your “virtual door” is always open, that you are sincerely and genuinely interested in learning more about them, and most of all value their support and business. More importantly, always be willing to go that extra distance beyond “the brand.” Providing that extra savoir-faire and going above and beyond the norm, will score big points with consumers at large.
Never Fuel a Fire
So you have gone the extra distance, done everything imaginable to solve an issue that someone is not happy about, but the saga continues. What to do? One could write a book on that alone, as social media is a combination of psychology, sociology, marketing and all around People Skills 101, but I can tell you what not to do right off the bat: Do not fuel a fire! Take it offline as soon as possible. Negative comments have to be dealt with, but the most important thing is how you deal with them. Handle it via private or direct message, even if someone has already posted or tweeted about it. Most customers are simply looking to have their needs and concerns addressed, not to have a public debate or spectacle, and most would prefer to handle it privately and resolve matters quickly. Before taking it offline however, always show the public that you know how to handle business and have taken the necessary steps to discuss matters and help the party in question. This is vital. Never leave any post, tweet or comment unanswered. If you are able to privately bring the issue to resolution, it is equally important to segue back into the conversation and let it be known publicly that all has been resolved. Always bring things full circle.