The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Social Media Customer Service – Acme widget problems

with one comment

Your community is active – you have tons of followers, friends and contacts and all is going swimmingly. Then from left field comes a complaint…what do you do? The social world is savvy and realises that Social is a pretty good way to complain in the same way that standing by the counter in a shop asking for the manager tends to have an effect. On that beautiful sunny spring day this suddenly appears on Twitter

@AcmeCustServ My widget has been broken for 5 days now. Its disgusting!

Here’s a quick checklist:

1. Do nothing in haste. Remember this is a public forum and you need to get it right. Someone else may step in and resolve the issue for you without you needing to do anything!

2. Identify the customer and treat them well. This is no different than any other customer service issue – you need to know who they are, that they are a legitimate customer and what product they own. That comparison with any other customer service issue is important. It is very easy to be too clever – the KISS principle applies here too. Treat it as a complaint – apologise and ask for a bit more information. Taking ownership of the situation in the customer’s eyes is invaluable. Social Media can be a great way to demonstrate the quality of your customer service in an open forum. You can also share resolutions which will save you some customer service cost for other customers with the same issue.

Lets assume this isn’t a quick fix. The customer will either come back to a fair question with the information you need (by private means email or DM if needed) or potentially just become belligerent. If the customer is happy to talk, the right answer is to resolve their concern in public (obviously not discussing any compensation or liability) or in private if it gets complicated and needs more time and space. In either case, once resolved the objective is to get an advocate willing to attest to how they have been treated in the public social forum. But what about the belligerent customer?

3. Look at influence. How many friends have they got and how likely is it that they are paying attention. If it’s a real celebrity you may need to be pragmatic and act quickly to rectify the situation; if its anyone else you need to go back to basics. The customer service principle means you treat each case on its merits and no matter how the customer behaves, if they have a point do the right thing. If they don’t have a point the crowd will work with you – they will see the unreasonable or unfair and back you up on it. The important thing is to take the conversation private if you can (ask for an email perhaps) and maintain a professional representation of your brand. Remember, there is no point in trying to suppress the situation because at least the customer is in open field, with you having an opportunity to reply, while they are talking to you. If you try and be too clever they will just pop up with their points on a blog somewhere or referring to you in hashtags.

Things are a little different if the complaint is about you but not addressed to you:

My #Acme widget has been broken for 5 days now. Its disgusting!

This is more interesting and challenging – to intervene or not to intervene? This kind of comment happens every day and its good to look at it through the customer’s eyes. If I was that exasperated I would contact the customer service team first – there’s a chance there is a case already underway. A quick check of the customer’s tweets may give some context to the problem. Of course the widget may be six years old and there is nothing you should or could do about the situation. In this instance it may be better to monitor the situation and see what happens next. The first tweet could be the last tweet on the subject (remember you’ve already checked the timeline for previous occasions). Alternatively it could be followed up by:

So’s mine. I’m now on my third #Acme widget…they are so unreliable.

In my opinion this is a sign to intervene. The tweets could actually be revealing some product issues but also could draw in a whole negative line of communication. Initially you should contact the first customer and offer to help them – make a customer service case out of it and treat it like the first case above. In these circumstances this is where you have a chance to shine. By getting in touch you are demonstrating that you are listening and wanting to help. Some of the best examples of social customer service come from prompt proactive intervention. You really have a chance to delight a customer, build your company’s service reputation and instill real loyalty. You should also look at influence. How many people are seeing this negative conversation and therefore how many more are likely to join in. How many followers/friends do these two have? Check their PeerIndex or Klout scores. You may consider putting a holding message out proactively such as:

We’re disappointed to hear we’ve got a couple of widget problems. Time for #Acme service to take control. If you have a problem call 0800 1231234 to talk to one of our engineers.

Just as important is the way you respond afterwards to any situation. Remember to feed back the outcome to the community to avoid future problems and to reinforce the brand!

We hear some people’s widgets are jamming in the current weather we are having. Remember to treat your widget with #Acmegard before the rain comes because this isn’t covered by warranty


Written by greencontact

March 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

One Response

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  1. Great website. Lots of useful info here. I’m sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you in your effort!


    March 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

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