If you’re using Social Media for customer service, something went wrong

I know that title sounds contrary to what tons of people preach about social media. Heck, I’ve been known on 1 or 20 occasions to tell clients and anyone who’ll listen, that Social Media can be one of the best customer management tools around. And it is. The social web, is by far the best listening station that has ever been created for new customer acquisition, client management, and customer relations, but is it the best primary channel for customer service? I think it should be part of your overall strategy, but it should be secondary.

Here’s the thing, if someone has taken the time to pull out their phone and fire off a tweet, status message, or anything else, something’s already gone horribly wrong at your business and you’re now having to do damage control out in public, if you can find it. People argue that when you take the time to resolve a customer’s problem online, it only goes to show how much you care. They are not wrong, it certainly helps, but here’s the real question, “Why are you solving a problem that happened inside your business online?”

There’s really only 2 reasons this happens.

The first, is that people are conditioned to vent and share negative experiences online. It sucks, but that’s where things are. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to find those negative remarks that people make about your business, and square them away. And, no, just deleting them does not solve the problem, because you’ve still got an annoyed customer who’s had a bad experience. Connect and engage with them, and try to genuinely address their problem.

The second reason, is that people don’t feel that there is an effective system to privately raise a concern, or complain. I’ve sent emails to businesses and never gotten a response, and I don’t trust that someone wont run interference on complaint notes. It’s you’re responsibility to create a system that your customers will want to use to privately communicate with you, otherwise they’re going to use the channels they use to warn other people to stay away from your business.

Here are a few suggestions for how to get started:

  • Put a contact form on your website that goes straight to your personal email.
  • Setup a voice mail transcription service and prominently display the number. This way people can complain discretely.
  • Keep a database with all your customer emails, and periodically email them and ask how service has been. Reward those who respond.
  • Integrate GetSatisfaction on your site
  • Set twitter up, so that if anyone mentions your business name, you get a text message

image by: Jason Ippolito