Social Care. Customer Service. Guest Relations. No matter what the experts are calling it these days, social media and the consumer are intertwined. People demand answers, immediately. They expect companies to care about their complaints and issues, ASAP.
From Facebook to Twitter, social is a hotbed for customer service. I get it. I’ve used it. Lost your luggage? Tweet the airline. Had a cold burger? Let’s post about it on the brand’s Facebook page.
The popularity of social care has skyrocketed to the high priority list by the fact that every brand and company is terrified of a social media backlash. If they don’t answer that Facebook post, will CNN pick up on it? If a person posts on Facebook at 2 am over a holiday and it doesn’t go answered until two days later, does that brand get panned by social media gurus about not doing it right? If a customer waited in line for half an hour on a Friday night for a table of six, will they lose that customer forever if they don’t respond to the FourSquare comment?
Recently, there was a story that received a lot of attention about a company fighting back against a series of complaints filed by a customer. The president stuck up for its employees and their rights to have a life and put family first. It was awesome.
Working in social media, you are continually inundated with complaints, potential issues of escalation, lots of back and forth with marketing and guest services…the amount of emails and phone calls that cross my desk about customer complaints would probably boggle your mind. Look, it’s easy to get bent out of shape when something goes awry, take to your keyboard, pound on the keys in rage, all behind the rouse of a social media platform. People have a right to seek out customer service, but there’s also a way to go about it so you don’t, in fact, appear crazy.
As great as social media is, it also has the potential to bring out the worst in people. As a person in the trenches of the social care industry, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when using social media for customer service:
ALL BRANDS ARE DIFFERENT
The expectation of immediacy, the demand of this always on mentality – we are living in a NOW, NOW world. At the same time, we need to remember that there are PEOPLE behind the technology. Individuals are doing their best to monitor social media to take care of you. There are levels to this monitoring though. Some companies have entire mission control centers set up to respond. That’s millions of dollars they are investing in their relationship with you. Others carve out hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to use software to manage the volume and workflow or inquiries to alleviate your concerns. Some brands/companies, surprisingly, don’t have the resources to have someone reading tweets at 3 am. As we are all human beings, next time you get mad a brand that doesn’t respond ASAP, don’t assume it’s purposeful.
Bear in mind the topic of your complaint. Depending on the industry such as healthcare, pharma and financial, there are a lot of regulations on what they can/can’t say to you, especially on social media. If they need you to call customer service because of privacy issues, don’t get flabbergasted at this request. There are probably reasons, like the law, behind seeking human-to-human contact.
DON’T SOUND STUPID
Chances are if you use a ton of profanity, misspell 78% of your words, or have some sort of NSFW language in your social media handle; a brand is not going to take you seriously. If you have a legitimate concern or issue, try using appropriate language that is understandable and coherent. A brand isn’t going to be able to help if they can’t make sense of what the actual complaint is. I’ve seen instances where a community manager would spend 15 or so minutes trying to decipher a Facebook post only to just move on because it made absolutely no sense. If your communication is based on using the “f” word every other word, the chances of being taken seriously have just gone down the drain. Be reasonable. If you are looking for an actual resolution, act like it, and speak like it.
There are some folks that like to take to Facebook and comment on every brand post and every wall post about their experience to demonstrate their dissatisfaction/hatred for the company. There are two things that tend to happen with Rantbookers. The first is they don’t actually want a resolution. I’ve seen this hundreds of times. A brand sincerely wants to help; the person accuses the brand of not wanting to help, ignores the brand, and continues on their merry way of complaining. The second is the brand may end up banning the person from the page. Now, I know, that is like a guru no-no waiting to happen. Or is it? If a person continues to post and interrupt genuine conversation, does not actually want a resolution, would that be considered a form of spam? I’ll leave that up to the brands to decide but I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Don’t rant for the sake of ranting. Ultimately, the only one that ends up looking bad is you.
The whole I-had-a-bad-experience-and-want-free-stuff is extremely common on social media. I don’t know how many times I have been unsatisfied with a meal at a restaurant, or was upset over the quality of an item. Yet, social media has embedded this expectation that you should get your money back, or get some free stuff for your dissatisfaction. There are times where it’s appropriate to complain, and then there are times where it’s ridiculous. Paid an extra 25 cents for cheese? Ridiculous. Received a shirt that had a hole in it? Relevant.
So next time you are dialing up Twitter to file your complaint, remember these few key points. And, please stop complaining about paying extra for cheese.
Marie Baker is a Social Media Director at Coyne PR and an original PRBC-er. At Coyne Marie leads the social media division spearheading the social strategy for the agency’s roster of clients. Over the past decade, she’s worked in the communications realm balancing a mix of PR, social media, marketing, and life experience. Her greatest achievement has been working with her favorite band, The Smashing Pumpkins, and receiving a personal phone call from Billy Corgan himself. When not at work, Marie strategically manages her two kids with her husband, who also works in digital marketing. From time to time, Marie attempts to blog about her greatest passion, music, at TheMusicMoms.com. She spends her free time wondering what life would be like without DVR, GPS, margaritas, and Tracy Anderson workout DVDS.