Customer Service problems can be daunting for any company. But the last thing you want to do is pretend that they don't exist or will never exist. The best thing to do is meet them head on, resolve issues, make the customer as happy as possible, and move on. The last thing you want to even consider is ignoring an unhappy customer or client.
Customer Service and Twitter.com were made for each other. The immediacy of Twitter, coupled with the accessibility of the customer-service "fixer" creates a terrific tool for staying in close and concerned contact with customers. And they feel the love. Below are a few tips to make this successful:
-Let your customers know about your presence on Twitter, at least to resolve issues. Post your Twitter "handle" throughout your own website. Send an a informative email to your customers letting them know that you will be available on Twitter if they need help, blog about it in company blogs. Make the Twitter handle that will be used for customer service visible and easily found throughout your online presence.
-Be proactive. Go looking for problems or mentions. This is not the time to be shy or keep your head in the sand! Search out your company name frequently. Create a search for your company name, brand name, product names in Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seesmec and save these searches. That way you will always be aware when anyone in the Twittersphere is talking about you (positively or negatively) or has problems. Tweetbeep and Monniter are two applications that will alert you when your company is mentioned.
-Take the right tone. Gather information on the problem, never point fingers, don't be defensive. Be authentic in your attempts to solve the customer's problem. Be sure the end result is positive — at least in feel — for the customer.
-If it can't be resolved in 140 characters of Tweet text, or if the problem is sensitive, or if the customer is very upset, then give directions for a next step — an 800 toll-free phone number, a specific email address (spelled out) so that a final solution can be achieved in a more private setting.
-Be very timely. Twitter happens at the speed of light. Negative info travels even faster. Check Tweets frequently for any hint of problems, and jump right on them.
Twitter aside, one of the best things you can do to build and reinforce your brand is to take customer service very seriously. A problem will only get worse, and a customer will only get increasingly unhappy if the issue is not acknowledged. Companies will get far more "points" for being proactive in their efforts to resolve even horrendous problems to the best of their ability. The resolution may not be perfect in the customer's or the public's eye, but a true and strong effort to resolve will go far towards saving the loyalty of that person. Hopefully, they will spread the word and Tweet about the positive outcome, not the bad experience.
Elyse Tager is a social media strategist and founder of Elymedia. Elyse develops effective marketing strategies to help the small business grow significantly.
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