Social Media Makes Customer Service the New Killer Business App

Social Media Makes Customer Service the New Killer Business App  

By Peter Barron Stark | May 3rd, 2010 | Customer Service / Leading Change / Quest Newsletter

80% of twitter usage is on mobile devices - Mashable.com

We often train clients’ employees in the art of customer service, but, up until recently, we have not touched on the power of Social Media as it relates to creating highly satisfied, loyal customers. Our goal is to share with you information that will raise your awareness about the power of Social Media when it comes to customer service.

It has been predicted that Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter are the main sources where people will soon be getting all their news from. Recently, we realized that this is where the NEWS gets their news from. Shortly after we felt a 7.2 earthquake here in San Diego, we turned the television to CNN to see if they had any reports on the magnitude, central location, etc. After only three minutes had passed, CNN reported on the earthquake, saying that they heard about it through users’ updates on Twitter. Then they presented a live screen cast of Twitter user’s comments on the event which were coming in by the hundreds every few seconds. Twitter informed thousands of people, including major national news stations, before the USGS was able to.

This is a testament to the power of Social Media. If word spreads this fast and far about an earthquake in three minutes, think about what it can do for customer experiences, good and bad.

Before the Internet explosion, customer service rants and raves (but, let’s face it, mostly rants) were passed on, to a handful of the customer’s friends via phone conversations or in-person gatherings. Sometimes the company heard about the rants and raves from a phone call through which the customer often had to press several different buttons to speak to the right person. There were a lot of steps for the customer to take in order to provide feedback and many disgruntled customers simply gave up, leaving the company clueless.

Those days are gone. Today, because of the Internet and the popularity of Social Media, customer reviews can be sent to hundreds of people almost instantly. This should give organizations something to think about, because, most likely, customers’ experiences with your organization can be read about by hundreds of people, including current and potential customers. Suddenly, the power has shifted from the hands of a few high level executives to the fingertips of thousands of blog owners, and Social Media users. With avenues such as Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, and even Google Places, customers can immediately share their experiences, good and bad, with hundreds of people.

Think about it like a math equation: great customer experience x 5 friends the customer told through word of mouth = 6 people with a positive view of the company who are now highly likely to do new or repeat business with this company. Now, instead of the 5 friends they told through word of mouth, it’s hundreds of the customer’s connections who are now reading this review online. These very experiences are what many people will read about when deciding whether or not to do business with the company. As a leader in your company today, it’s never been more important to ensure that your team is providing top notch customer service. Word travels fast and far.

Take a look bellow for some examples of the customer reviews that can be found online:

Online customer reviews can be wonderful, but they can also be startling. If you approach the situation correctly, you can get Social Media on your side.

You may be thinking, “We are a small company, we won’t be affected by Social Media,” or, “Most of our customers are baby boomers who don’t use these sites.” The truth is, you never know until you investigate. According to eMarketer.com (via Mashable.com), 46% of Internet using baby boomers regularly maintain a Social Media profile. We suggest Googling your company name or typing it’s name into Twitter’s search bar or Yelp.com to see what people are saying. It may also be wise to do the same research on your competitors as well.

As an outlet for providing excellent customer service online and further connecting with their customers, many companies create their own pages on relevant Social Media channels. If your company plans on doing so as well, you can read a few tips for getting started here.

When it comes to providing and managing customer service through Social Media channels, these are just a few of the companies who have the right idea:

  • Zappos. This is the Twitter page of Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, the online shoe retailer. When we first wrote this article in 2010, he was using this account to answer customer service questions, respond to product inquiries, accept feedback, provide inspirational quotes, show insight into the company culture and give tips related to running and other activities that are heavily reliant upon the right shoes and gear that Zappos sells.
  • Southwest has employees whose jobs are to specifically address concerns when people mention Southwest on Twitter.
  • ACE Hardware uses their Facebook fan page to answer customer questions about when products will be available, post announcements of new items, and get to know what household projects their customers are currently work on.

These are just some of the companies that have thought outside of the box and turned their Social Media presence into portals for customer service, customer education, feedback and communication.

Social Media may already be ingrained in your customer service strategy, or the words may have never even been uttered in your office. Whatever the case, it’s worth noting that Social Media can be a valuable asset to your customer service strategy. Your company will benefit by understanding otherwise unvoiced customer needs and your customers will benefit from your expertise, now online, as well as in person. The information and options can be overwhelming, but if you have a vision, you will be amazed at the benefits that Social Media will have on your company’s customer service strategy.

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