With the advent of social media we have encountered a new world of customer service. A world where the customer has a voice and that voice can be,well, quite loud! The dynamics of how companies manage their customer service have shifted so drastically in the past 5 years and many companies have yet to catch up in this new era of 24/7 online voice.
So what does it take to be effective online with your customer service? That’s a question that will be different for each company. But what’s important is that your business begins to address this pressing question: How will I handle customer service in a 24/7 social media world?
At SocialNicole we have decided to address online customer service during the month of February. It is the month of love – so it felt like a good time to address loving your customers wherever they may be. Unfortunately we see a lot of companies not showing the love online – actually many doing the opposite.
Here are some attitudes we commonly see companies take regarding online customer service and social media integration:
1. Our customers will come to us- it’s okay if we are not online available with social media. A common way to address social media for companies has been to simply “put their head in the sand”. If we are not there then we don’t have to “deal” with it. This stance is simply not a good option. Why? Well, if a customer calls you are you there to answer the phone? We’d hope your answer is “Yes.” A company would never consider ignoring their customer service line, emails or even the regular snail mail. Yet by simply ignoring social media they are ignoring a major source of communication. It is not optional, and ignoring the social media “phone” leads to your unhappy customers having a microphone to talk, talk, talk to everyone. Not being there will not make them go away.
2. Outsourcing all our customer service will make it easier- I just don’t want to think about it. Yes it’s true you can outsource your custom service. As a matter of fact SocialNicole does manage the online customer service for several brands- but simply outsourcing your customer service with no understanding of these channels, without highly vetting the company you hire and without a full trust in their ability to do the job right could get you in trouble. We will address this in a post next week. When you outsource, there are “do’s” and “don’ts.” As always, if you perform the “don’ts” chances are you’ll end up in more trouble. More to come!
3. Social media “belongs” to marketing or PR or advertising The idea of placing social media communications into one silo in a big company is pretty common. Social media is such a natural fit for the marketing/PR/advertising departments. Oftentimes, especially in larger companies, it can get stuck in these departments. Even though this may seem like an okay solution, it simply is not okay to silo social media into one department of a company.
Does your marketing department know how to handle customer service issues?
Is there a plan for how to help customers who ask for help online through social media channels?
How many layers will the request have to go through to be addressed?
Will your solution be speedy enough for an unhappy customer?
Would you only allow one department to use the phone or email? Probably not. These tools have been integrated into every facet of the company. Yet many companies think that social media belongs to one department instead of thinking of it as a fundamental shift in how we communicate and that it is a business communication tool just like the phone and email.
These are just a few responses companies have taken towards social media for customer service. Social media has changed the game. Mediocre customer service is no longer tolerated. Customers will speak to everyone, so brands have and will continue to experience the fall out from that. Developing top customer service experiences that expand both online and offline will be a key factor for any company looking to stay in business in the next 10 years.
What’s your plan for customer service in this new social media world?