Use Twitter for Customer Service

Here are two customer service examples of what to do and what not to do on Twitter with your followers (customers and potential customers). The first is a customer who had an issue with FedEx. She Tweeted one of the FedEx Twitter representatives: “@fedexrobin Help! I have a fedex problem!”

As shown in the figure, a FedEx representative had the problem worked out before the customer could make the phone call!

Twitter responses from @FedExRobin.
Twitter responses from @FedExRobin.

Had Marsha not Tweeted to Robin directly and instead just mentioned FedEx, her Tweet would have been answered with equal speed because FedEx monitors social media streams constantly.

For example, without having to look very hard, you could find @FedExRobin hard at work (see the figure). A young woman was bemoaning in a Tweet that her FedEx delivery hadn’t arrived. FedEx monitoring paid off: Within a few moments, she got a response from FedEx and Robin was able to track the package and appease the customer.

An unhappy customer who payed (sic) extra.
An unhappy customer who payed (sic) extra.

FedEx's social media monitoring allows them to find customers who make an off-hand comment about the brand. The company has a team on Twitter and another on Facebook, ready to help with delivery or pickup issues. They try to fully embrace the FedEx employee Purple Promise, which is: “I will make every FedEx experience outstanding.”

Impressed with FedEx's social media outreach? Sheila T. Harrell, vice president of customer service operations for FedEx said social media is clearly important to the company. Sheila said that “every call, chat, Tweet, and interaction is an opportunity to make a difference.”

Many consumers aren’t comfortable when they are asked to follow or friend a business online. But when a business reaches out to help with an issue, they subconsciously bond with the brand.

The other side of the coin is the exchange in this figure, in which a disgruntled Twitter user comments about dissatisfaction with a company’s customer service response. The reply from the brand made many people gasp. This screen shot has been around the Internet for quite a while (without the names obscured). That exposure can’t be helping the business’s reputation.

Not the best example to follow.
Not the best example to follow.

When engaging with your customers through social media, be transparent and be authentic. By doing so, your customers come to trust you and you build loyalty.

Posting publicly in social media

Your initial contact with a customer through social media is public and open for anyone to see who is connected to you or the consumer. Your reputation is fair game to the residents of the web. Monitoring your social media accounts and responding quickly and publicly to online mentions should be your first line of defense against customer dissatisfaction.

Those who are part of online media wield power when sharing feedback or complaints. Customers can band together in solidarity. Whether your company responds publicly or not, online comments have staying power.

After you've engaged a customer, the only currently acceptable reason for making the discussion secret is confidentiality. When the information necessary to solve an issue requires personal or private information, making the chat private or continuing by e-mail is satisfactory.

In 2010, David Armano (@armano), executive vice president of Edelman Digital, came up with an interesting flowchart that maps out the engagement process. This simple decision tree, shown in this figure, can help you understand the best-practices flow of social engagement.

The flow of social engagement.
The flow of social engagement.

Note, though, that taking the conversation into a phone call may not be what the customer wants. Voice calls have been losing favor with those under 30. They are embedded in the newest technologies and are loathe to connect on the telephone. Today’s tech-savvy customers want to conduct their business on the web.

In the aforementioned Maritz study, 27 percent of customers whose issues were addressed on a public forum said they were delighted to get a public response from a company. The “delight” factor dwindled to 6 percent when issues were solved through traditional direct methods (phone call or e-mail).

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