Customer service on Twitter is a tricky thing. Complaints are public and unqualified responses can dig a deeper hole for brands.
A coupe of weeks ago I wrote an article about “The Non-Sense Big Marketing Agencies Are Selling To Big Brands”. One of the results was a response from Software Advice’s “Customer Service Investigator”, a blog writing and investigating customer service issues. They recently published an excellent article “Social Support #Fail: How Experts Would Fix 8 Twitter Missteps”. In their response to my article, they asked me if I would be willing to give my opinion, feedback and my stand on their article’s subject.
In their article they mentioned a number of customer service missteps of major brands such as American Airlines, Adidas, Target, Starbucks, eBay, PayPal, Pizzahut, Toyota and Dish Network. The cases were very well explained, brand responses displayed and Twitter updates embedded. In response to these brand missteps, major social media influencers gave their opinion and advice on how to do better. All of these influencers did a very good job with mentioning the problem and providing a sufficient and working solution for the brands on the chopping block. So, there is no real reason for me to pick up on that again. The influencers and the writer already put the meat on the table and did an awesome job on that.
The problem of bad handling of customer service issues is a wide spread disease, just as miserable social media marketing is. In my presentation, I want to try and explain why many brands (I am tempted to say almost all brands) are messing up as they do and in many cases make themselves look like “fools at work”.
What do you do when a customer complains in one of your brick-and-mortar stores? Leave them where they are and walk away?
First of all, customer service on social media, in this case Twitter, is a hot topic. Why that is can be understood by everyone. The complaint is public, and so is the response. That leaves the brand with lots of opportunity to dig a deeper hole. If you ask me, I would prefer to handle customer service complaints “behind closed doors”, or at least on a different platform.
Unfortunately, not all things go the way we want them to go. It is wise to start and understand that complaints on social media won’t go away. It is time to address it. In order to do so, brands, and their consultants, need to understand what their social media platform actually is. In this case, Twitter is your store! People walk in and address your company with bad news. What do you do if this is happening in your brick-and-mortar store? Leave the customer standing where he/she is and walk away? No, you won’t. You will speak with the customer and try to resolve the issue. If your employee is trained well and is a people person, while solving the issue, you might create a new fan! What’s the problem with doing the same on Twitter?
“If you try and make a fish climb a tree…”
Here it is: Employees, or at least some employees in the store get training to resolve issues. Those that handle a brand’s Twitter account are mostly people that have never sold anything, never handled a single customer service action nor have they received any related training and in short, are in the wrong job! Sounds harsh, I know. I don’t mean to insult anyone handling a brand Twitter account, or Facebook or any other social media property. I just want to lay it out as it is. It is like in this quote we once in a while see posted on Facebook, “If you try and make a fish climb a tree..”.
Put people on the job that know how to handle people
The real problem and issue is really how brands still treat their social media properties, with the advice of an army of consultants from agencies and other highly regarded firms. I would take a bet that many employees of big brands handling social media are shaking their head about the things they have to do on a daily basis. The brand’s perception of their social media properties needs to change. Besides other, that means you have to put people on the job that know how to deal with people in such an environment. When I say such an environment I mean, customer contact on a daily basis. That will improve customer service and, as I mentioned a million times in other articles, ROI in social media marketing.
Most brands use their Twitter account as a message blaster!
For now and for customers that have a customer service issue with a brand and try to address them on Twitter, here is a tip: Look at the brands follower to following ratio. If you see a huge difference, following back less than 50%, the Twitter handle is most likely not managed very well, and in extreme cases not at all. It usually just serves as a “message blaster”! If you see such a miserably managed Twitter account, your choice is then to find an outlet the brand has reserved for customer related issues, or tweet anyway and hope someone at the brands office is falling off the chair and is responding.
The brands that change first will eat the others lunch!
All in all, brands, and their consultants, need to change on how they treat social media presences. While social media is still somewhat in the early stages, things are changing. A customer treated with disrespect on social media will behave like one badly treated in a real store and in times of social media, will share the experience. As long as all the brands do the same non-sense that might not have a real influence on business. However, those that break that circle and change first will eat the others lunch!
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