Have Yourself A Social Little Christmas

Rebecca Bolton, digital team, Clarion Communications

Christmas can be fraught with customer service nightmares - from last minute present purchases and returns of unwanted gifts to the drama of the Boxing Day sales.  And with 18 million people now using social media to contact companies over customer service issues, gone are the days of the polite letter to the editor, or contacting Anne Robinson on Watchdog over an incident of poor customer service.
Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, is now becoming the first point of contact for the disgruntled consumer - and is a breeding ground for potential PR nightmares.

Companies therefore need to manage their accounts and customer service engagement effectively to combat the problem, and never more so than during the frantic festive season.

Here’s a list of the top five things companies should be doing to aid their social customer service:

  1. Monitor your channels for people with complaints and issues, and reach out to them. If companies respond to tweets and posts about their products and services proactively, it shows you really do care. If you wait for people to @ your account, or post on your timeline, the issue could generate more engagement and result in a more difficult and time consuming matter to resolve.
  2. Respond to all complaints and issues within a reasonable time frame; users don’t expect instant responses, but they don’t want to be ignored.  A great example of customer service through social media can be seen with John Lewis, and their response time to complaints on Twitter which was 32% quicker than other brands. 
  3. Tweet!  Show that the channel is managed and part of your overall marketing and PR activity. This will enable customers to feel confident about engaging with you, and show that complaints are being dealt with in an efficient manner.
  4. Take it offline.  If you have a difficult customer service issue, or you need to talk to the customer in more detail, ask for an email address or phone number.  It means you are showing followers that you have responded to the issue, but they don’t have to witness how you manage it.
  5. Be authentic.  If you HAVE messed up, or you’ve been caught out, just say sorry, quickly.  The last thing you want is for the customer service issue to go viral by you not being genuine. 

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