It's All About the Customer Experience
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP email@example.com | | Tags:  customer_experience. paul_band customer_experience_suite
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Great Customer Service by Social Media
My first customer service Tweet
On a recent trip, I bought some new headphones in the airport. With an hour still to go and my email dealt with, I perused the instruction manual. It invited me to register my new headphones in order to extend the warranty – I’ll have some of that, please – except the URL doesn’t work, but rather leads to a ‘page not found’ message. After a thorough but unsuccessful internet search, I admitted defeat and decided to Tweet my frustration.
To my delight I find the company has a dedicated Support handle. My tweet reads like so: I love my new headphones-they sound amazing... But the documented product registration URL leads to an error.
A short while later, I get notified of a mention:
@therealpaulband Our new website recently launched & our registration tool isn’t available yet but will be soon. Stay tuned.
Cool! That was far more pleasant than calling (and trying to navigate menu systems while listening to hold music on the telephone). Plus, it was quicker and easier than finding an email address and composing a new email.
A nice feature of using Twitter for customer support is that I can view all correspondence between the company and its customers. It’s a bit like a live FAQ.
A Few More Examples
There are many good examples in the public domain of companies using social media for customer support. One of the better known is Comcast, who started using Twitter back in 2008, after discovering customer service complaints from disgruntled Tweeters. In response they were able to quickly contact the customer with an offer of help. In fact, Tweeters even started to help each other.
The open nature of Twitter may not be suitable for all industry customer support scenarios. Financial services for instance are governed by regulation that prevents the sending of account information, even via Twitter direct (private) message. Citibank overcame this challenge by sending a link by Twitter direct message to the customer to start a secure live chat session, within Citi’s website.
Many companies have also created Facebook pages to promote themselves. The use case is a little different than Twitter. What the official Facebook page gives over and above the internet website is instant feedback from those who view it. Companies can use pictures and words to communicate promotions, new products or conduct surveys. Readers can interact by leaving comments or simply ‘liking’ something.
I read Nationwide Building Society's page, and was impressed to see where customers had left comments complaining of a problem, they had responded to reassure that something was being done. Like Citi, sometimes the conversation needs to continue on the phone or using the company’s secure chat facility. Personally I find this reassuring because it feels like they care.
Larry Bowden recently blogged about an Italian company, Amadori, who was looking for a way to reach younger costumers through social networks. Using the IBM Customer Experience Suite they were able to create and manage several mini-sites that integrated with Facebook and YouTube. Within a year, Amadori increased their fan base to 45,000 followers, giving them a direct way to communicate with their audience, and learn more about them as well.
Improve Your Social Eminence
By nurturing a positive eminence online, companies using social media for customer service can attract new customers and leads. Companies can listen for certain questions or hashtags, that while not directed to them, are still relevant, and respond.
Social media channels are not a replacement for traditional customer service methods, but do offer a modern alternative which is often quicker to deal with. There will always be situations where dealing with a real person is most appropriate, but for all others, I personally will be posing my queries in under 140 characters.
Have you had great customer service via social media? Share your views below!
Paul Band is a technical consultant for IBM Software Services for Collaboration in the UK. Paul specializes in the implementation and administration of collaboration systems. Paul is especially passionate about using social networking to find expertise and widen his network. Paul co-authored a Redbooks wiki publication on Domino administration best practices and enjoys cycling and crazy golf.
Paul is a Redbooks Thought Leader