Is there anybody out there – Customer service and social media

Is there anybody out there – Customer service and social media

Is there anybody out there

Are your customers asking the very same thing Roger Waters famously asked on the 1979 Pink Floyd classic The Wall:

Is There Anybody Out There?

In today’s competitive world, a company’s reputation for satisfying clients is one of the key factors in whether or not someone will buy from them. From the perspective of a company’s management, customer satisfaction is all about improving revenue, reducing costs and increasing profit.

Unhappy customers are much more visible

With today’s internet technologies, unhappy customers can be much more visible than in the past, using social media sites, complaint sites and blogging and micro-blogging sites. It has never been more important for any organization to focus on customer satisfaction strategy and techniques than in today’s environment.

Due to the lack of any real alternatives, until recently the telephone was the sole means of customer service interaction. However as the communication tools available to people have become more advanced so to have the ways in which people interact, creating a number of potential PR nightmares for companies who fail to cater for their customers’ needs.

Spending forty minutes on the phone or getting an email response two weeks later around a complaint is no longer acceptable. Today’s customer is far less trusting and brand loyal, if they have a bad experience they will simply go elsewhere and worse tell their friends.

Dilbert Customer Service

The telephone no longer drives business communication – rather it plays a complimenting role alongside email and social media. Are customers getting better service and faster response when they Tweet out their frustrations and concerns than they would by calling or emailing a company? While traditional customer service via phone, email, chat, or self-service options is still available at companies, many organizations are often responding to customers faster when the complaint comes in via a social media site. As a result, are we teaching customers to use social media as their customer service escalation path?

Customers use social media as a channel to obtain customer service for various reasons. For some, social media is their preferred method of interaction, and they want to do their business with a company where it is most convenient for them.  For others, they use social media because they are not satisfied with the results they have received from traditional customer service channels. They feel that companies are more likely to respond via social media because it is such a public medium. And perhaps they are right. Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars YouTube video about his poor customer service experience with the airline has nearly 10 million views. Eventually, customers may decide they can get a faster response via their favorite social network and will give up on traditional customer service all together. Social media will become their main place to complain.

By creating the social media escalation path, companies are discounting their existing customer service channels and training customers not to use them. Any shortcomings of those channels may be even more visible as customers use social media to loudly complain about the lack of great customer service. In some cases, the existing customer service channels are indeed broken and need an overhaul.

In other cases, the customer experience needs to be unified for consistent treatment across all interaction touch points, including social media, phone, chat, email, in-person, and a company’s channel partners. Fast responses on social media are raising the expectations for customer service in those other company channels. These channels may be operating very efficiently and effectively, but if the service levels are not meeting newly-formed customer expectations, they will need to be reviewed and most likely improved.

Should companies be responding quickly via social media, even if it causes some of the above issues? Absolutely. The world is watching, and it is critical to not only respond quickly for the sake of resolving a customer issue but also for the sake of the brand’s reputation.

What we really should be asking is how we want to treat our customers overall. What is the customer strategy? Companies should use whichever channels customers prefer to use to answer their questions, solve their problems, and ultimately reward them for their business and for referrals. Intentionally create a great customer experience. When companies do this, whether those interactions were by phone, mail, or online, the word of mouth will spread!

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

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