A couple weeks ago, while we were on our way to Chicago, Erik wrote about how people — customers — can get good customer service by participating in B2B and B2C social media. He talked about how customers can get a company’s attention, why they shouldn’t whine, and how to make sure they’re taken seriously when they have a real complaint.
But companies also need to follow some customer service “best practices” in the social media realm, if they want to see what the customers are talking about, and to avoid a serious customer service meltdown. We manage a lot of customer service social media for our clients, and have been able to solve a lot of problems on their behalf. Here are five steps we follow in providing good customer service in B2B social media.
1. Find your Customer Playgrounds
Facebook is not the only game in town to manage b2c social media for a company. More often than not, you’ll find your customers participating on sites that are specific to your industry. Social media and business can be found on Twitter, Blogs, Forums and other Social Networks.
For example, in the travel industry, whether it’s an airline, hotel or car rental company, they can keep an eye on their customers by hanging out on Flyertalk, where everyone is talking about everything from airline miles, aircraft and the luggage they use. By focusing on specific discussions, they can keep abreast of what their customers are concerned about and pleased with.
Most industries have their playground where people are congregating and talking about what you are or are not doing right. Find yours and participate.
2. Create a Team.
You need a team to monitor your brand online. Your best bet is to create a tiger team of different people from different departments, rather than assigning one department like marketing or customer service to it. However, you need to appoint ONE person to be in charge of it. Don’t make it a committee, because nothing will get done. Customer service definitely needs a seat at the table. Also, create a plan to quickly address a bad Twitter post or Facebook post. This is where customer service needs to be at the forefront.
3. Monitor the Networks.
It’s not just enough to have a Twitter account that you check for mention of your name (although you need to do that too). You need to monitor a lot of the different networks and forums. There are several tools to help, including Lithium (formerly ScoutLabs), uberVu, Radian6, Vocus, and of course, Google Alerts.
There are more entering the social media monitoring market everyday, so the list is fluid. Find one that does what you need and stick with it. But be prepared to change, since the quality of the lists will often change.
4. Have a Plan to Respond.
Make sure you you always address the issue and deal with the customer. Don’t engage in an argument with them. Whether you think you’re wrong or they’re right, don’t engage in a public debate. If the customer is just dead wrong, address the issue privately, but solve their problems publicly. Let everyone see you’re taking care of your customers; this will help potential customers feel more at ease. But if you get into an argument with a customer publicly, you’re going to lose when everyone else sees you as a bully.
Step 1: Research the person who posted their comment.
- Do they have Klout?
- Have they identified themselves?
- How much influence do they have?
- Are they a troll? (There are individuals that go around and say bad things and try to extort you to remove the comment. And, they may not even be a customer or have purchased your product).
Step 2: If they are legitimate, address their issue.
See how easy that is?
5. Communicate the effort, so you are demonstrating action is being taken.
Demonstrate that you are conversing with your customers and answering the questions. The passive aggressive behavior of online behavior quickly turns into appreciation, if the customer feels heard. Someone may complain “Smitty’s restaurant ruined my day. Put Swiss, not American, cheese on my cheeseburger. #FAIL,” but will backtrack and soften their complaint if you follow up with “I’m sorry for the error. We’ll buy your lunch the next time you’re in.”
Remember, social media is about having conversations with your customers online. Monitoring what people are saying allows you to get important feedback you would not otherwise get. Feedback is good, embrace it.