Whether you like it or not, social media has opened up your customer support lines to the world at large. If I can’t get your attention, or I just don’t like the way my support was handled, I just have to put my complaint into a 140 character tweet and add your company’s hashtag. If you’re not on Twitter, I’ll create a hashtag for you.
Millions of examples abound.
Here’s how the game is played:
- A simple error turned into what feels like a triple-violation to your customer. One of your customers receives disappointing service. It was probably user error on their part, but your support rep was having a bad day and made your customer feel a little bit dumb. It didn’t help that your customer was on hold for five minutes. Your customer was disappointed three times in one single event.
- Your customer complained to their followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You should consider yourself lucky that they didn’t write a song for YouTube or create a “yourcompanysucks.com” website just for you. United Breaks Guitars will soon exceed 12 million views.
- You don’t really follow Twitter or LinkedIn, so you don’t realize that 100 other customers are piling on with unique and funny tales of their own misery at your company’s hands.
- When you finally do respond, you’re so afraid of being naked in front of the world that you give a phony sounding, self-serving response. Now 1,000 start making fun of your response.
There is a better way:
- Embrace your nakedness. Follow Twitter and other social media communities regularly and actually use it as a support tool. Check out @SouthwestAir to see how this can be done with some style.
- When a problem happens, act on it immediately. The longer you wait, the more people will pile on.
- Make your response personal, admit to any wrong doing, provide reasons for the failure and provide a public solution.
- It doesn’t hurt to be humble, funny, say “thank you,” and sound like a real person.
With the right social strategy, you can turn almost any weakness into a strength.