There is no doubting the multi-faceted way that social media sites have reshaped how the world connects and the reasons we connect.
Off the top of my head, on a personal level I have used social media sites to share photos and memories with my family and friends, arrange events, network with like minded business people, find new customers, track down family members and trace family history, help other people, look for recommendations on products and services and last but not least CUSTOMER SERVICE (or should I say ‘complaints’)
Use Social Media Sites To Express Your Views
One of the greatest things I think social media sites have done for people, is to force big brands and services to sit up, take notice and have accountability!
Today people don’t think twice to go looking to Twitter for a corporate account of a company if they are having a problem or a question that they need answering. I say this confidently because I personally have done so with 3 large companies in the UK.
Let’s be honest, we all get frustrated being on ‘hold’ for a long time, and eventually being transferred to a call centre outside of your geographical area, (if at all) A ‘letter of complaint’ can often fall on deaf ears with response times being less than what we consumers deem acceptable.
Today taking to Twitter and using 140 characters to air our ‘frustrations’ seems to be a far more powerful and effective way to get the attention of the company in question, and more importantly obtain a response in a timely manner.
I’m a BIG fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and to quote him on this subject
“I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care”
Like most things Gary speaks about, he’s raising a REAL point.
My Own Experience
I’d like to, if I may, give you a scenario that I was recently in with a large UK parcel delivery company:
I’d been trying to get a parcel delivered to my workplace for over 1 week! Having made numerous calls, checking online, giving crystal clear delivery instructions to the exact location of my office, after 8 days I was starting to get a little bit ‘irritated’ by the whole situation!
Things kind of came to a head when I made a call on day 8 of the parcel not being delivered, and I found myself on the end of a phone line that went dead.
What did I do?
I took to my personal Twitter account to ‘voice’ my upset. Within 10 minutes I had a response from their customer service Twitter team and within 1 hour of that Tweet that I had sent, the problem with the delivery was being sorted as a priority.
Within 1 hour, the company had managed to turn me from an unhappy customer into a pacified customer, happy that finally someone had managed to sort out my problem.
Why Does It Work?
Why do businesses (irrespective of size) respond better to unhappy customers and queries online, than that of a phone call? I’m no expert here, but the fact that you all have a social media footprint, the mud can kind of stick!
Think about it. Anyone searching through Twitter’s dynamic search engine, means that my Tweets would have been seen by ANYONE searching that company name. That makes it VERY important that my complaint was handled in a timely manner.
Because of the speed that social media sites work at, as frequent users of the system we know we are going to get a more swift reply if we use this as our medium to communicate with the businesses in question, but more importantly than that, the businesses can benefit by publicly showing how good they are at delivering good customer service.
More people are searching via social media sites – that is a fact of this web 2.0 world, and more people are communicating because of it.
So for a business it makes sense to have a presence where their audience and customers are so that when problems do arise they have a chance to change their unhappy customers perception and also maintain their reputation.
On the other end of the scale, my family business (which is a London based print and graphic design studio) have a very active social media presence (thanks to me for maintaining it) and sure, we have had customers who are a little bit unhinged when a problem has arisen or a parcel has been delayed, or a print job has gone wrong. The trick to it (in my opinion) is obvious – treat others how you wish to be treated. We do our level best to go above and beyond the level of service in both the positive and the negative situations we find with clients.
Social media sites have encouraged more personal recommendations and referrals on GOOD services. In the past, people generally only tended to tell their friends and family about the bad experiences, but now thanks to social media sites, people are leaving a footprint of glorious updates, recommendations, and referrals when they have been more than pleased with a service!
All of which, any company can use to their advantage – as long as you have it documented / saved (favourite ALL positive tweets) then these can be used as customer testimonials for the future.
There is nothing more rewarding than reviewing your favourite tweets or reading your glorious recommendations via LinkedIn or Facebook every now and then as a reminder of the great achievements your business has made.
I would recommend that if you were using social media sites to connect with people and generate new leads for your business, that you seriously spend time looking at how you can enhance your current customer service level to your customers. Don’t be worried if you see a complaint or unhappy update towards your business, don’t ignore it, spend time to understand the issues and then get it sorted in a timely manner.
The last tip I would give is to let your audience know that you have dedicated customer service that includes social media as a way of making contact!