How to use social media for effective customer service

Do you use social media for customer service?

Next time your cable goes out or your Internet connection acts a bit spotty, instead of working your way through the inevitable phone tree, you might want to try social media. Kim Beasley, a social media strategist, has gotten some fast results that way.

When should you turn to social media for customer service? Beasley says it depends.

"The way I determine what avenue depends on No. 1, the urgency of resolution. No. 2, the presence of the company on social media. If they are on social media heavily, I'll use that first. If it's something that's not urgent I'll call or send an email," says Beasley.

What happens if you don't get a quick response on Twitter or Facebook?

"If I don't receive a response within, say, 30 minutes to an hour, I try to find them in other places. A company that is hard to find on social media probably is not mining their social media presence, therefore you would have to resort to telephone and emails," says Beasley.

She says there are other avenues you can take, like blogging about the company, but it depends on how aggressive you want to be.

"If you have a presence on social media, you can share your experience," she says. "You can keep it up. Not to the point where you're stalking them, but to the point where they get to know who you are."

Beasley says there is an art to complaining and offers these tips to consumers to get effective customer service on social media: "One of the first things I always tell people -- if you have a complaint and you need to get a point across to a company, be as sweet as you can. But make sure you state your point and make sure you're clear about it. Once you do that and you really hit your target, then watch for their response. The way you handle it determines your outcome."

Other tips:
- State the facts
- Don't exaggerate
- Don't go on and on  
- Share photos, a video, or other evidence as proof if something is not working

Recently, businesses have taken to social media to shame customers who may not have left a large enough tip or paid their bill. That's something Beasley says no business should do.

"It is not a good excuse or a good reason to shame a customer," says Beasley. "To me that is poor training from the company in regards to their employees. Companies should not use social media to tear down anyone because their potential customers are watching or can see that."

In those situations, Beasley advises companies to ask for feedback about their service.

 

 

 

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.

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