How to Do Social Customer Service for the Right Customer Experience

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Extending customer service into social channels presents a truly unique opportunity for service delivery in a truly personal and meaningful way that directly connects with customers and develops more personal customer relationships.

Traditional approaches to targeting and marketing to customers doesn’t always work on social media. Likewise, traditional customer service approaches aren’t always feasible or effective though social channel.

However, correctly applied and carefully crafted into a new customer contact channel, social media can be a gateway to personally reaching customers who might never been approachable with traditional efforts.

What companies are getting social service right?

  • Netflix is well known for delivering very responsive and efficient service interactions. Netflix focuses on training service team members to take advantage of social channels to deliver real time customer service.
  • JetBlue is popular for its ability to monitor social media sites for potential customers who might be in need of help. The JetBlue reputation continually surpasses expectations in its industry for the service they deliver to its customers.
  • Nike has dedicated social accounts specifically for customer requests. Having a service-focused social handle gives customers access to live human team members who are available 24/7 for customer service online.

In a previous post, Abby Perkins is Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, a SoftwareProviders.com blog, put the question of why we need social media for customer service to the test. She points out a few key elements of social service experience and why it can be an effective channel for customer service:

There’s more to running a successful business than having an incredible product or service. Those things may generate revenue, but to attract – and retain – loyal customers, you need to provide impeccable customer support. Companies with reputations for taking care of their customers tend to fare much better than those who leave customers hanging.

These days, companies of all sizes are upping the customer service ante by being readily available on social media. And now that the practice has been around for a while, one thing is clear: Customers love being able to interact with brands on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies that extend their customer support to the social media realm tend to have better reputations than those that don’t.

The takeaway? Any business that wants to provide top-notch customer care has to be active on the most popular social media sites.

Plan Your Social Customer Experience Before You Act

Before you get too excited about providing customer service via social media, make sure you’re in it for the long haul and will actually follow through. The only thing worse than not having a social media presence is having one that’s been abandoned.

For instance, if a customer tries to interact with your brand on Twitter and is greeted by crickets – he’s not going to be too happy, and he’s not likely to keep coming back. Your earnest efforts can backfire dramatically without follow-through, so be prepared to give it your all before you start going social.

Does Social Support Make Sense For Your Customers?

Like many business owners, you may have been drawn to social media by the promise of enhancing and broadening your marketing efforts. Social is certainly a great way to promote a brand, but it requires a different strategy.

Traditional marketing efforts don’t fly as well on sites like Twitter and Facebook. People on social media don’t want to be preached to – they want to engage in conversations and interact with their favorite brands. That’s why social media is such an effective way to deliver top-quality customer service.

Not convinced? Consider these benefits, for both customers and companies:

Instant Service Opportunities

Consumers are used to wading through confusing telephone menus and waiting around for email replies. Through social media, you can surprise them by responding almost instantly to their questions, comments and concerns. And this doesn’t just satisfy the customer, either. It also shows that customer’s followers – and potentially many others – that your company actually cares and is committed to handling customer service issues quickly.

Unique, Personal Service Experience

Consumers vastly prefer dealing with living, breathing people than with nameless, faceless corporations. Some of today’s savviest companies allow customer service reps to let their personalities – and even photos – to shine through on social media. UPS, for instance, has photos of its customer service reps on its Facebook page, allowing customers to put faces to names.

Highly Engaging Service Interactions

By monitoring social media for mentions of your brand, you can reach out and surprise people in positive and memorable ways. CitiBike, for instance, responded to a customer tweet about a biking mishap by sending him a gift card for a new pair of jeans. The customer responded in kind by tweeting positively about the experience. CitiBike didn’t just make his day – they benefited from the transaction, too.

Transparent Service Feedback

It’s true that people are more likely to post negative online reviews than positive ones – most people aren’t prompted to take the effort to post a review if they were satisfied with the service. But social media is different. When a customer has a positive experience with a brand, it only takes a second to post about it on Facebook or Twitter. When you actively support your customers through social media, you’re more likely to experience this positive word-of-mouth.

Extreme Branding Awareness

People like complaining about companies, brands, products and services on social media because it feels good to have an outlet for your grievances.

Brands can capitalize on this tendency by quickly responding to negative comments and working to quickly correct them. Because it all plays out in the public social media realm, it’s yet another way for a brand to market itself and promote its image.

Is Social Your Next Big Move?

Social is here to stay.

If you’re looking for a way to outshine the competition, delivering top-notch customer service via social media is a great place to start. Just remember – don’t drop the ball. If you’re going to do it, do it consistently, effectively and correctly.

The opportunity for exceptional customer experience and fantastic customer service is there, but it’s up to you to craft it and get it right for your audience.

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