Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters and clear advocate of brave social media customer service, says that 90% of customers who complain in a private setting (i.e. phone call, email) expect an answer. But, what about those who complain, rant, rave or simply ask for help via a social media channel?
Whereas some of these folks are just looking for a place to vent and perhaps garner a bit of camaraderie, others moved it to a public platform so they’d get answers.
How do you know which folks to answer? Who is looking for help and who is simply yearning to be heard?
All of them. You answer all of them.[Note: Might I say that it’s also important to use your judgment here? Harassing posts without a real complaint or posts that are off-topic shouldn’t necessarily be answered.]
- Your other followers are watching. What you say or do not say tells every follower you have about your intentions and the heart behind what you do.
- It’s possible to turn a livid customer into an avid supporter if you authentically reveal your care and concern for them during a tough time.
- Perhaps the most important reason is that you might see beyond yourself and learn something that has the chance to tweak your business for the better.
Social media-based customer service is not about defending your product or service. It’s about finding out what you’re doing wrong so that your product/service can grow. It’s about brave customer service.
I answer tweets for Buffer, which gave the awesome opportunity to grab some examples of real tweets that I’ve encountered and how I’ve answered them. Although almost every tweet is public on twitter.com, I blocked out names for added privacy.
When starting to work in the Twitter environment, answering tweets all day, every day, I quickly learned a strategy to ensure I would answer with careful intention. Wade Lombard’s Stop, Drop and Roll philosophy (written verbatim below) covers a bit of it.
I added a few more steps to Lombard’s so you could see a bit more in-depth. You’ll see my contribution in italics around Lombard’s Stop, Drop and Roll method.
Steps to Prevent Social Media Customer Service Blunders
- Listen – Read, but don’t just read – listen. What is the customer really saying? Many times customer communication is a bit brief. What can you infer from their words that will allow you to ask intelligible follow-on questions?
- Stop – “Don’t respond immediately. The best advice I’ve received is to sleep on it (although I typically lose sleep over such reviews). Waiting 24 hours can make all the difference.” -Wade Lombard
- Research – Look into it. What can you do to help? Is this a malfunction from your product or service, or maybe a common complaint? Check out your company research to find out more details of what is already known so you have more information to come back to the customer with.
- Drop – “Drop the prideful, defensive and harsh response. Let a trusted co-worker or friend read through your response before posting. Remember, taking the high road is rarely a bad idea.” -Wade Lombard
- Roll – “Roll with it. In the end, you can’t control the opinions of your clients. Attempt to mend any valid issues this person presented through their review. Keep providing the best possible service and products. Do those things and the more affectionate reviews will exponentially multiply!” -Wade Lombard
- Save – If you use a listening tool that allows you to save your posts (or assign them to yourself), do that! This way, when your customer answers back, you can reply to them right away. If not, perhaps do it the old-fashioned way: with Post-it® Notes or a Word document.
Real Social Media
Customer Service Examples
It’s never fun to hear that a customer isn’t interested in your product or service anymore. I think for most, the first instinct is to either ignore this type of post and hope no one else sees it or defend your product or service, hoping they’ll see ‘the light’ again.
Instead of taking that approach, what if you took the opportunity to learn why this customer didn’t love your company. Keep your chin up! They are offering only one perspective. However, that one perspective might help you see trends down the road.
Support Requests Met With Praise
This praise tweet came in response to a tech support answer I sent. What a happy moment for someone who aims to love on customers every day!
Sometimes it’s fun to take an opportunity like this to send some extra love to your customer by way of swag, a discount code, a retweet or even just a happy GIF!
Even a small effort can show others how much you care.