Social Customer Service – How are you Doing it Right?

Everybody is now jumping on the bandwagon of social customer service, but not all are doing it right.  The social presents using Facebook and twitter isn’t always enough.   Not to say that the person who is dealing with your social media isn’t doing a good job, but there is a strategy behind it and that needs to be planned out well.   Once you have a decent strategy going, you need to put it to practice.

I thought I was the only one thinking this way and then I had the opportunity to speak with some people from companies who are using social media for a part of their customer service and feel it’s very successful.  Some highlighted some ideas that you may be trying yourself.

I think it’s vitally important for the success of your customer service to make sure the customers know that the people responding are real people, and not generic answers.  They may feel its fraud and lose the trust in the company because they are getting generic answers from a Sarah Smith (sorry to any real social media reps called Sarah Smith).  Jen Dorman  of BeFrugal.com “We also respond to any Facebook inquiries for assistance, posted as public
posts on our page or private comments left for us. We aim to connect,
listen, learn, assist and share knowledge with our site users and community
(BeFrugal is a coupon code and cash back website).  We are answering officially, never having planted fake customers. Sometimes we get requests from potential users who are using social media to get more information about our site and have not become free members of our site yet.”

It’s interesting to see that Jen didn’t take on the crowdsourcing approach when conducting social customer service.  It can end up confusing the customer that way.  The best way is to go official and instill trust.

Shawna Tregunna – Founder of ReSoMe.com went one step further.  They make sure to tell the customer when they will be online, so that they don’t get frustrated and write angry messages on the Facebook pages or some lousy tweet to the brand.  “For customer service accounts we focus on mainly Facebook and Twitter, we include in the bios what times we are available and after hours alternatives for service. Our SLA for our customers is less than 15 minute response time to direct mentions and posts during monitored time and 30 minute response times to indirect mentions (they use the brand name but not an @, for example) during monitored time – it just takes a little longer sometimes for those to come through in the searches. We also monitor blogs and forums but those we have a 1 business day response timeline.”

MyCorporation’s CEO Deborah Sweeney makes use of the extra tools available through social media such as private messages to the customers and DM’s via twitter.  “We have accounts with most of the major social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. However, most of our social interaction with our customers is through Facebook and Twitter.
Short messages can be handled within the site that they originated from, but often times our customers have a lot of questions that need to be answered – something that cannot typically be done in 140 characters or less. So, if we need to, we ask them to give us a call or send us an e-mail so we can actually help them out, instead of giving them a blanket answer. All of our outlets are monitored daily, including weekends, so if a customer does reach out through social media, we are able to quickly respond to them.”

I completely agree with this method.  I don’t always want to have a chat with DM on twitter.  The conversation has to sometimes move to somewhere more serious (still within the social customer service team) like email.  The customer still feels like they are being helped because the agent is professional.

Courtney Kettmann, community manager at Viralheat also believes in this method of using the tools available on social customer service outlets but allowing it to migrate to more secure surroundings.  “We conduct customer service in a number of ways to give our customers options when contacting us. Customers are able to reach Viralheat by phone, support tickets, Facebook, and Twitter. We monitor Facebook and Twitter for customer services inquiries since our customers are active on both platforms.
We monitor Facebook and Twitter 24/7 using our social media monitoring tool. Doing this helps us to capture the customer service inquiries even when we cannot be in front of the computer. We also try sticking to a 2 hour SLA during business hours and an 8 hour SLA outside of business hours. We answer through our official business Twitter account and our customer service reps personal Twitter handles.”

I’m certainly glad to see that the social media era is adopted well into customer service.  Its where the customers are, so you have to be there too.  Doing it right though is a different matter.  We can all learn from these guys.  I certainly have.

 

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Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe