social customer service

The 10 Commandments of Social Customer Service

Tim Hopma 6 years ago

As social media becomes a bigger and bigger part of the consumer experience, both pre and post purchase, all brands should be working hard to keep their public presence and reputation at the head of the game. In fact, a staggering 71% of people - aged 16-24 - will turn to the internet for help, when they have a problem with a product. We’ve certainly used social media brand accounts to vent our frustrations, and with good results we should add!

With this in mind, we’ve come up with ten critical social customer service commandments, and noteworthy examples:

The Dos:

  1. Spelling, language and grammar. Regardless of your social strategy and projected manner, always ensure that you’re addressing concerns, complaint and issues with a professional tone and correct grammar and spelling.
  2. Draw negative attention away from the public domain. If the customer in question raises an issue, that will require a sum of resolution, advise them to contact you privately – private message or DM - to address. When the situation has been resolved to the satisfaction of the customer, go back to it publicly and round the complaint off with a note of thanks.
  3. Acknowledge positive feedback. RT, like, share and reply to positive feedback. Thank your customers for taking the time to let you know how good you are! Customer generated content really is invaluable, whether this is a written positive appraisal or, better yet, a picture of a customer using and embracing your products.
  4. Use tools to monitor brand mentions on Twitter. Just because you aren’t being directly mentioned using your Twitter handle, doesn’t mean you aren’t being discussed. Setting up saved searches/streams on applications - such as Hootsuite - is quick, easy and ensures that you aren’t missing out on positive, or negative, brand feedback.
  5. If you have the ability to do so, good deeds & giveaways go a long way. Social media can be a really cost-effective platform, even when you’re giving stuff away. Honestly. If you’re in any doubt as to how this can possibly be the case, check out Nando’s. They’re really good at running simple question and answer type competitions as well as encouraging offline activity too.
    The #NandosDash content, for example, in which they offered free chicken for a one-hour period in a given restaurant, gets a brilliant level of customer interaction, engagement and customer generated content. Obviously, most of our businesses don’t have outlets on most high-streets in the UK - however, there’s nothing to stop these types of contests and giveaways being scaled back in line with your business.

The Don’ts:

  1. Don’t ignore the complaint. If there’s one thing sure to agitate a customer into escalating their complaint further, it’s being ignored. Ignored messages can result in additional negative publicity and, in worst case scenarios, can gather viral traction and social sharing. You should aim to address any tweets, comments or messages within 24 hours, but ideally on the same working day, to stem any potential reach.
    KLM airlines are really good at keeping their customers ‘in-the-loop’, regarding their queries. Their Twitter header is updated automatically, every five minutes, to advise roughly how long it will take to answer their question or request.
  2. Don’t set up automated responses. There are exceptions, and bots are becoming increasingly advanced regarding sentiment. However the only foolproof way of truly ensuring that the tone of reply, to any given message, is accurate is by doing it manually.
    Oh no, Bank of America. I’m not sure there’s much value in engaging in a discussion regarding an Occupy LA protest…
  3. Don’t misinterpret the tone of the customer’s message. It can be difficult, on occasion, to understand the emotion behind any given message. Be careful to ensure you don’t misinterpret any message(s) in the wrong context. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and make the address in a positive, professional tone, without any notably emotive language.
  4. Don’t take criticism personally. Even if your product is the most amazing thing ever, and entirely your pride and joy, it will probably receive criticism and negative feedback from somebody, at some point. However, it’s important not to take it personally. People often vent their frustrations on social platforms and sometimes this will include exaggerated feelings. Address their points in a polite and professional manner, no matter how their message may come across.
  5. Don’t dilute the customer’s complaint/feedback. Even if you don’t think the customer’s point is important or valid, treat all queries in exactly the same manner, and resolve them to the highest standard. If they’ve taken the time to provide feedback to you, regardless of whether you feel that’s justified, then have the good grace to address it.

Let us know your good, or bad, social customer service stories!

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