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Would You Talk to Your Mother with those Fingers?: Using SM For Customer Support


So you are turning to social media (SM) to get customer service support?

Excellent.

But – and yes there is always a “but” – before you do, understand there are strategies you can employ to better achieve your objectives.

Let’s start with your goal. There are two reasons to turn to SM for assistance: either you are exasperated with traditional means of support and really need help, or you are so furious that you want to utilize all of your Internet courage and really blast a company.

While I am not a huge fan of the latter, I don’t judge, so blast away.

This distinction is important, as it will determine which site you use. If you really want help, you should use Twitter. Sure, your well-worded rant isn’t going to live on the wall for all to see just how ballsy you were when you thrashed that company, but the person that is going to help you doesn’t have to filter through a slew of random comments to actually get to the meat of the post or dig down an active wall looking for something of merit.

The engagement will be more conversational, and the transition to a private exchange will be easier. In the end, you will get your issue resolved much more efficiently, and that is really what you want, isn’t it?

So here are a few tips to make this interaction go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Do some research: Before you turn to Twitter, make sure you know what kind of support, if any, the company provides through SM. Take a look at their feed.
    • When was the last time they posted? What are their responses like? If their responses, primarily, tell people to call in, you will probably get a similar response and might as well save a step and give them a call.
    • Do all their posts seem to be Marketing messages? Well, they may not provide support, and all the barking you can get your fingers to muster will not change that.
    • Do they provide hours of operation on their page? If you don’t see a post from them in the last hour, more than likely they are not active at the moment, and there is going to be a delay in response. If your issue needs immediate attention, you may want to use a different method of support.

    I know what you are thinking because I’ve had this discussion before: “the company should be available to provide support 24/7 on any Social Media site where their customers are.” This is fantastically idealistic and completely discounts a little thing called ROI (return on investment). If the company has data showing they have, on average, three to five posts between midnight and 6am, there is a very low return on staffing a team (with redundancy to account for illness and days off) to ensure those three people get an immediate response. Not that they do not value those three customers, but that cost equation makes for a failing business model. If the company is participating in any SM space, you should feel fortunate. While governing regulations probably dictate the speed at which companies must answer a support phone call, they do not tell them they must respond to tweets for assistance. Any social media customer support is executed by the company’s desire to help their customers, not to comply with national standards.

    We have all seen the great social media blunders, yet all those companies are still functioning. You are not going to take down a huge company because of your relentless complaints on a social media site; but if you are willing to work within their parameters, you may receive better support.

  2. Do NOT use a private account. If you have your tweets protected and have not allowed the company to follow you, you can Tweet @ them all day long, and they will never see your post. Even if they are following you, they have to be looking at their mentions on Twitter to see it. It makes this process so much harder than it needs to be.

    Now, I get it. You don’t want your Boo to see you chatting up all these Basketball Wives or fawning over Katy Perry pictures. You want that on lockdown. Cool. Here is the beauty of Twitter: you can create multiple accounts! Create one account that is strictly for business. Don’t tell anyone about it, and just use it for support exchanges.

    Now you’re asking, “But will a company help me if I have no followers?” Answer: YES!

    Honestly, a social media support team member does not have time to see how many followers you have before they choose to respond, and frankly they don’t care; they are in that role because they want to help people. Period. The only time they even look at followers is when you boast about sicking your legions on them. Then they might take a quick peek to see what they are dealing with and laugh loudly at your 37 followers, most of which are bots.

  3. If you need help, follow the company: I do not say this as a means of scratching their back so they will reciprocate. The marketing team may care about reach and number of followers, but the support team just wants to help you, and that almost always involves an exchange of proprietary information that you do not want posted publicly. If the engagement moves in that direction, where the company is asking for information in a DM (direct message), follow them when they follow you, so they can respond to your private posts privately.
  4. Provide as much details as possible in 140: While the company’s shortcomings may be humorous to you and your fans, it isn’t going to help get the problem solved. When working multiple support posts, less is more. If you can tell their support person your issue in one post, their initial response will often include resolution. Don’t muddy up this process with 17 exchanges, as you force them to extract the core issue from you.
  5. Be Kind: Any book that has ever been written about dealing with customer service personnel includes something to this affect, and it’s true in social media as well. The person that is responding to you is a human being. They may be unnamed and behind a logo, but they are still a person. And again, they are in that role because they genuinely want to help. So don’t take your corporate rage out on them, and don’t throw a huge hissy fit because you think that is, somehow, going to expedite the situation. It’s not. They are operating within a certain amount of policies and procedures, and they are going to do everything in their power to help you, while ensuring they do not lose their job by neglecting to follow the company’s rules. Posting 15 million seven-word tweets all using varying degrees of profanity will only delay the process, since each post you make has to be tracked.

There you have it. Five simple tips to follow before looking for social media support. There are others for sure, but this is just enough to reduce your danger level, allow you to get the support you need, and prevent the social media support professional from cussing angrily while hard-typing your response.

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