I was sitting around with a few other Social Media professionals as we all spoke about the different projects which are happily taking up our time when someone mentioned how they suggested that a client not respond to customer service inquiries via twitter. At first I wasn’t sure if I was hearing them right, hence I asked for clarification, yet the response I was given didn’t help shed any light onto the situation AT-ALL.
Yes. A social Media professional advised a client to ignore inquiries an customer service issues via twitter, and when asked WHY in the world he would advise them to take such an action or..lack of action, the answer was that he was having them follow one of the coveted 36 Rules of Social Media which says that “1). If all you do is respond to complaints that is all people will send you”. At that point the sound of what others would have thought was clapping or someone being slapped about the face, was instead the sound of the rest of us all clapping our faces into our own hands. That is when I felt the need to ask if he had conveniently forgotten rule #8 which was to ALWAYS WRITE BACK as well as #14. Which is that EVERYONE IS AN INFLUENCER.
When it comes to professional use, Twitter can be a SERIOUS opportunity for a business to meet and exceed a customer’s expectations in regard to customer service. Therefore without question, to ignore the issues and concerns of customers who choose to contact you via twitter can be a very serious no-no. But more important, Twitter gives you a perfect opportunity to build champions on behalf of your product or service, which is one of the points OF social media.
Let me tell you a story about what happened to me at a local IKEA store a few months ago.
A client had pushed back a meeting which we were supposed to have early on, which left me with a little time to catch up on some errands. One of which was returning a lamp with a name I can’t pronounce, back to Ikea.
I got to the store 10 minutes before it was to open where I unfortunately had to sit in the cue of about 9 other patrons waiting to return things. At that point I saw but one person was working the returns counter which was of course taking forever, which gave me some time to open up my windows phone and express my spoilt anger via twitter. Because surely there would be others there to sympathize with my first world problems.
My tweet: “Bolingbrook Ikea. One customer service person for a cue of 9 people? Come on, really?” I expected nothing more than a few chuckles and chides from my twitter followers but instead I got a pleasant surprise which was the social media manager for Ikea, responding to me directly- letting me know: “Dear James, Sorry about that, we’ll be sure to get that rectified for you asap.”
Next thing I knew a manager had come out to the line and asked for James Caldwell, to which I raised my hand and was met with a firm handshake and an apology which frankly I didn’t need or deserve. But what happened was that by that small interaction which came from my bratty tweet, it showed that Ikea not only believed in the power of social media and twitter, but they believed in customer service….which is KEY in today’s world where customers can pretty much get what they want from MANY other sources. But what can not only keep customers WITH your brand, product and service long-term, and to become your champion, is customer service. To connect with them.
Because of what Ikea did for me that day, I have touted their brand and general ‘awesomeness’ everywhere I could via social media as well as told this story time and time again to others who have nodded their heads and said: “Man, I should give Ikea a try, huh?”
If your customers are reaching out to you or discussing a problem they have with your product or service, you can either ignore them and treat them as if they don’t matter, or you can connect with them for a moment and mayhaps even solve their problem in a direct personal manner…even in 140 characters.
I have advised a few clients who have contacted me later to tell me that the twitter strategy we created together has resulted in a direct uptick in not only customer satisfaction, but their bottom line financials which they have been able to attribute directly to their social media presence from customers telling them: “a friend of mine wouldn’t stop talking about you guys on twitter so I had to come see for myself. Glad I did.”
Whether you are a small business or a multinational corporation, customer service is a prime directive for your business…or it should be. Twitter is but another tool and opportunity for you to meet and exceed a customer’s expectations.
Not to be so cliche here but for those businesses who say they can’t afford to support social media efforts, it’s almost as if….you can’t afford NOT to.