Good Social Media Does Not Make Up For Crap Customer Service

Good Social Media Does Not Make Up For Crap Customer ServiceHow do you manage complaints on your social media channels? At the very least I’d hope you apologise and resist the temptation to get defensive. (If not, do not pass Go and do not collect £200.) But beyond that, what’s the key to diffusing situations and turning detractors into potential advocates?

For me, the crucial element is about being human. Treat people like people, be sincere and don’t act like a robot and you’re off to a great start. But what about showing a little humour now and then? It can be a fine line to judge where and when you can and cannot inject a joke. But if you do it right, it’s probably the most powerful weapon in your armoury. Not only will you diffuse a situation, but you’ll gain recognition from not only the complainer but also from the wider community.

Like Samuel L Jackson said in Pulp Fiction: “Personality goes a long way”. (And if you don’t get the reference, you need this in your life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nJCzrSENHnQ&t=26)

Take the small example below from a Facebook Page I help to manage. Customer complains about under-filled packet of crisps and poses a question that’s difficult to respond to. Brand responds with a little humour (in addition to an apology and a resolution) and BOOM, everyone’s happy.

Effective Facebook Customer Service

(click image to view full size)

Personality, however, is not everything.

This week I’ve been having issues with my Virgin Media cable service. Having become frustrated at not being able to get through on the customer service phone line, I turned to Twitter. To Virgin Media’s great credit, a response came back within 12 minutes. (I found the sad face a bit patronising, but that’s being a bit picky.) I was pointed to an online form, which I dutifully completed and bode them a good night (kinda).

Virgin Media on Twitter

Great service, huh? Nice example of how to do it: friendly, polite, efficient.

Well, three days later I’d had no response. Nothing. Nada. So back to the phones I went. My opinion of Virgin Media has gone from excellent to poor. Which prompts the point that it doesn’t matter how well you handle your social media channels, or how much personality you inject into them if your baseline service is awful. Efficient community managers do not and never will make up for terrible customer service agents. And the sooner companies like Virgin Media realise that, the better.

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Posted by Paul Sutton

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