MAD Perspectives Blog

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 What's Up With Customer Service?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Here we are, in the midst of the holiday season. It's supposed to be a time of good cheer, yet we are all feeling the stress of find just the right gift for that special someone, while we try to balance work demands and holiday social commitments. In the midst of this, I have been exposed to an appalling amount of poor customer service. Doesn't every business know, that it now takes very little for someone to share their dissatisfaction with friends, family, heck - the world, with just a few keystrokes?

Whether it is the online arm of a brick & mortar storefront whose website doesn't seem to allow you to enter your credit card information, or the furnace repair company who can't seem to return phone calls (or solve problems), or the grumbly girl at the department store checkout - you are the frontline of customer satisfaction for your business. Unhappy customers wlll turn to Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums to share their concerns in an attempt to find answers. This is the age of social media.

Angie's List has evolved to be the social forum for home improvement specialists. It serves, not only as a destination to seek recommendations but also to be cautioned about shoddy workmanship or poor customer services.  YouTube videos have been created by individuals who have been poorly served by airlines, restaurants, shipping companies or technology.  Twitter has almost become the default social network for complaints including a hashtag calling out the perpetrator of poor customer service.

Customer experience has become an overused buzz word, yet it's an apt description of where businesses must focus their energies. Our ability to complete transactions, to feel as if our needs are met or our concerns addressed are the keys to customer loyalty - and revenue for any business. Many large companies have turned to social media to augment their customer engagement efforts. This is a good step if it is well though out. Most companies have a LOT of data collected by their call centers.  However, this is data collected after a problem has occurred. The challenge may be determining how to prevent that challenge from occurring in the first place.

This can be done through education and communication.  and, this is where social media can make a difference. Rather than posting documentation to a website that no one ever reads, even though it provides valuable insights - repurpose that document as a series of blogs. Highlight best practices via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Host a group on LinkedIn specific to products and customer support. Analyze your call center volume and identify the highest areas of concern. Get ahead of those problems by alerting customers to potential problems that you know you can easily solve. Post solutions to recurring problems. Pay attention to social activity - listen for problems, acknowledge and address them quickly.

Social media can't solve every problem, but it can help with many. The manner in which your business engages its customers reflects their importance to you. A friendly voice is a plus, but it is meaningless if they cannot provide answers. The key to success in customer services is to listen, acknowledge and respond.  Give credence to your customer's concern and find a solution that works for them - and your company.  

It's the same in the social domain. Use social monitoring to listen.  Establish a policy for how to acknowledge and respond to customer concerns. The key is to act quickly. The longer a wound is open and festering in the social domain, the more likely it is to become deeply and widely infected.

What's your perspective?