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Customer Service Gets Social

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on October 22, 2010

Much is being written today about the relationship between customer service and social media. Online microblogging sites such as Twitter and features on LinkedIn and other networking sites enable any company to instantly know what its customers and potential clients are saying, for better or worse. Social networks are, in effect, a new medium for word-of-mouth marketing.

There’s an opportunity for small businesses to outshine their bigger competitors on social media-based customer service because they can be nimble enough to respond to questions and concerns in a way that’s personal, timely, and directly helpful. But, if you are an entrepreneur or a part of a growing business, you may not be able to hire a person dedicated to answering in-coming customer service issues and to scan popular social networks for customer issues not directly addressed to you. Some ideas to help you make the most of your resources include:

1. Identify the social networks you will search for comments on your company. Twitter and Facebook seem to be obvious choices, but what about YouTube, Flickr, or even on personal blogs? Spend some time thinking about where your customers and potential clients converse online, and then go there.

2. Set aside a specific time of day to search for and begin to resolve these requests. Make sure you do it each day—even on weekends—to ensure requests are handled within 24 hours.

3. Consider integrating customer service requests and issues into your sales and/or marketing processes or look for customer relationship management (CRM) software that offers this feature.

In today’s wired world, understand that people will talk about your company online whether or not you are monitoring the chatter. Any company that ignores social media risks seeming uninterested or, even worse, developing a bad reputation. Speak the language of your customer—including listening and responding to conversations in social media—and watch your reputation for providing stellar customer service bloom and grow.

Pamela O’Hara
BatchBlue Software
Providence, R.I.

Reader Comments

Paul Dunay

October 22, 2010 1:28 PM

Pamela - I totally agree - I started with this approach 2 years ago with Avaya and we have significantly increased our customer stat and social status by providing what I call Social Customer Support.

You have to serve your customers in the channels they want to use and for better or worse social is here to stay

Greg Cohen

October 22, 2010 1:41 PM

I disagree that Small Businesses can easily outshine their larger competitors. While they may have more latitude to respond to and interact with customers, they certainly don't have the available resources to dedicate to true customer service. While its nice for customers to hear directly from the President when they have a problem, it also means the President isn't focusing on business matters like revenue growth or innovation since they're spending time on Facebook/Twitter.

I'm not saying a big company can do social CRM better - I'm simply saying that its harder for a smaller company to identify proper resources to handle the varied aspects of Customer Relations.

Steve Chipman

October 26, 2010 9:49 AM

Great topic, Pamela. I think we're still in the early innings for customer service via social media.

At MediaFunnel, we've developed automation for #2, by letting users create brand alerts in order to get email notifications of requests posted on Twitter.

On #3, we are looking at ways to get the conversation off Twitter and into CRM, such as the ability to turn a tweet into a Zendesk Ticket.

Leah McGrath, RD LDN

October 29, 2010 11:43 AM

so many companies think that Social Media is all about what you POST and don't understand that that is only 1/2 the equation. The other part is reading & responding to feedback/complaints and questions whether they appear on Twitter or Facebook. If you don't it is like having an unattended phone line in your customer svc dept.

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