Customer service in a social world

In the old days, customer service meant a friendly, knowledgeable employee helping a customer in person or on the phone. Wikipedia says customer service ” is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction…”

Fast forward…in addition to in-person and telephone customer service, businesses are now expected to be available via online chat or a social network like Facebook or Twitter.

So is customer service the same in-person as it is in a space like Facebook or Twitter? No…because social networks are public. If your customer service is lacking, the unhappy customer isn’t the only one who is going to know about it.

So…what makes great customer service?

I heard Peter Shankman put it this way:
Listen. Analyze. Reply. That’s customer service.

There is a reason people have two ears and one mouth. Brands should be listening twice as much as they are talking.

Brands should stop and review what has been said, then decide how to respond. An organization should most fear the complainer who has never complained before, but is active on social media sites. Respond immediately.

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is that they do not respond quickly enough. An acceptable response time is one to three hours when using social media.

A few other items to note:

  • You do not control the direction of your organization. Customers do. If you go one way, and your members/customers/volunteers go the opposite way, you will not succeed.
  • Transparency is key. Honesty will squash problems. Use social channels to shut it down.
  • People don’t want to hear you talk about you. They will listen when others talk about you.
  • You have 2.6 seconds to reel in your audience.
  • Learn to write. Bad writing can be harmful to your organization.
  • Social media is two-way communication. If you do not encourage engagement with your audience and don’t have the ability for people to post or comment on your social media platforms, get rid of them and use traditional media like radio or print ads.

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