Donna Gurnic is Market Development Coordinator here at CTS Service Solutions.
Unfortunately, the more widespread the use of social media for customer service becomes, the more it is misused by those who have forgotten the basics of being a good customer.
As social customers, we need a set of ground rules to guide us when we log on to get a company’s attention online.
Many social customer service interactions begin when something goes wrong.
For instance, let’s say your wireless Internet connection frequently drops off, and you call your cable company to report the problem. After two separate appointments with a technician and three phone calls to customer service, your Internet connection is still not fixed, and you can’t afford to waste any more time.
Before you hop onto Twitter, Yelp or Facebook, know that the decision to go public has many layers. In some cases, using social media first is the best option. In most cases however, using social media to communicate a customer service problem is a last resort.
If and when you decide to reach out via social media, you have some basic options:
You want to choose the right channel to ensure your message does not get lost. Take a moment to survey the responsiveness of each of the company’s social accounts. Do they respond to Tweets, Facebook posts or Google+ posts? Are they involved in community forums? Once you have decided, try to find the person or support team who can handle your issue directly.
Use these tips to help make your outreach through social media more effective:
1. Use Tact.
Venting, cursing or name-calling will not help you, and you risk being ignored. Instead, give the company something they can work with and stick to neutral comments. For example:
“Simply need my @AcmeCable modem replaced and a credit for repeated trouble”
“Cannot get a solution to my @AcmeCable Internet problem”
“@AcmeCable CustServ cannot resolve issue with faulty modem, please help”
2. Use Specifics.
Customer service representatives cannot read minds, so explain exactly what you need and when you need it by. If your situation is complicated, an email may be the proper channel to use. Keep it simple and leave no room for misinterpretation.
3. Be Fair.
Be conscious of your tone and approach toward the company. If they respond to your message and they are making an effort to fix your problem, give them a chance to make it right before escalating the issue further.
4. Be Careful.
This guideline is the most important because your online comments can follow you for a long time. If it’s a popular site, it might make it to page 1 when someone Googles your name. A complaint against a company might be one of the first things a potential client or employer sees about you online. You should be careful what you say.
In customer service when conventional methods fail, social media can be your friend if you treat it with respect. Sometimes reaching out to a company through social media is your best option, so keep these tips in mind when you compose the message.
And by the way, if you succeed in using social media to get help from a company, thank them! Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ are great places to express your gratitude for a job well done.
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.