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Mar 01

The expansion of customer service

Stop with that naughty social media! Quick, ban it! That’ll stop them…

Yes, this long cringed at activity is still happening.  A lot less than it was, but with the cautious being over cautious they are in fact just putting a lid on a boiling pot. It’s happening people, but now you just can see it under that bubbling lid.

I’m going to be blunt and say that a companies lack of social media inclusion is archaic!  It’s like only accepting cheques as a form of payment, or having a website but you can’t email a query, you have to make it in writing or fax it. Both of these situations I am sad to say have happened to be in the last 6 months. One resulted in me not booking with said accommodation as I don’t have a chequebook. The other resulted in me running around trying to find a printer and fax machine, and guess what, a fax machine is a hard find these days I know.

So for all of you who were not totally offended by my description of your archaic company, and are still reading this then let me explain a little further.

Social media is about finding where your customers/clients are, and ‘listening’ to them. That is not finding them, and then butting in and shouting your awesomeness come buy from me speech. That would be frowned upon, so just don’t do it. But when, in the corporate world, do you ever stop and listen? Do you actually have the time to hear what people are asking, what issues they face, what problems grind them down, and all of that may be about your product/brand/organisation/company.

These people don’t pick up the phone and dial your dedicated customer service number to be given terrible ‘on hold’ music for several minutes, informed their call is very important to them, and finally get through to someone who can’t help with their query in the first place. These customers and clients are already talking about you in forums, on twitter, maybe even having a conversation on facebook about your terrible/crap/awesome or amazing service. Can you hear them? Because this isn’t just about the bad, this is about hearing and responding to your biggest advocates, responding to them, thanking them.

a customer 'touch'Sometimes the smallest ‘touch’ can have the biggest effect.  A ‘touch’ is every potential opportunity you have to shape and influence a potential customer or client., a touch can leave an impression, and it is up to you to make it the best impression you can. Old style touch was a billboard, a TV advertisement, radio and telephone, new style ‘touch’ is still the telephone, but engagement has evolved to Twitter, feedback forums like Yelp, 1-5 star rating websites like Amazon, 1-10 diner ratings as on Top Table, Facebook page comments.

I see social media as having many tentacles in an organisation, and it’s not limited to marketing, corporate and sales. The one that I think is terribly overlooked is customer service. When in fact the part of the organisation best equipped to deal with a complaint via social media is the customer service team.

And there are so many funky ways to include your customer service team in social media for your business.  Hootsuite provides the option to dedicate items to team members, there is software for online chat when a client/customer/user is on your website and needs assistance.  Why wait for them to ring, why wait to possibly lose them whilst on hold, if they are ready to talk, ask a question, make a suggestion, comment, speak to you, or buy your product then make it easy for them. Stop waiting for the phone to ring.  Try it, what have you got to lose…nothing, maybe a bit of time waiting around for those phone calls, and a bit of training for your staff (call it upskilling). What have you got to gain, positive customer experience, solved problems, happy clients, your staff are engaged in conversations with clients, that isn’t a bad thing is it?

The other option is to watch the dust settle, because things are changing, and you either keep up, or get left behind, that is the nature and speed of social engagement today.