The bar for customer service is admittedly still not very high across the board. In many, if not most cases, it's because of business issues that keep an organization from focusing on the product or service -- hence the need for extra support.
Many organizations are still looking at customer service as a cost center, when they could be taking a different view, especially with social media. The best way to communicate about something being better is by letting people see satisfied customers.
We started this conversation a couple of years back, when we said that customer service is the new marketing. Social media is a first-hand means of finding and responding to customer problems, needs, and also documenting satisfaction, trends, and product suggestions. If you're willing to listen, customers will help you refine your current marketing and outreach programs.
In that sense, they're so much more than additions to the bottom line, they're your brand guardians and they will actually tell you how you can do better.
It's simple to see why this is important -- no customers, no business. In the age of relationship, when everyone is so connected with each other, the pool of people who've never heard about how your business fares may be incredibly small.
How's your Web site these days?
Some businesses are thinking about starting a Twitter account specifically to address customer issues. If your company is among them, you have the right instincts. Public customer conversations on Twitter are akin to good brand management.
Before we jump onto that:
1.) Do you have good content on your site to address known issues?
2.) Did you enable a chat button for people who need to speak with you on your site?
That would be a line of first defense in attacking the issue of support aggressively. Social media is not an excuse to abandon customers in your own digital home, is it? And you do want to come up in the default home page for any business -- Google's search page -- for known issues, possibly ahead of the complaints.
Customer service on Twitter
While the bar is pretty low in phone tree land, and sometimes even on Web sites, it is set pretty high on Twitter. Blame it on Frank Eliason @comcastcares, he taught us that customer support doesn't involve automation on the front end.
For several months, Frank was the first and only responder when people had issues with their cable connection. True, he had a team behind him that could diagnose and solve the issues, and he automated listening in on conversation.
However, the powerful part is that people soon learned to tweet with his handle when they had questions and problems. In other words, he took the sting out of complaints by being very responsive. How responsive? A Twitter minute responsive.
Which is issue number one you need to address if you're thinking about putting someone on Twitter for customer service. And many companies today have done that. None of the we'll get back to you in 48 hours responses will fly in a medium where messages get old so quickly.What else?
What are some of the other reasons you'd hold back doing customer service on Twitter until a business is ready? Have you had good experiences with some of the companies that are doing it?
[image courtesy of Hugh McLeod. some content may be strong]