How to Get Real Customer Service on Social Media

It used to be that when you had a negative experience with a product or company, we’d call them. Then email became available. Now, people take to social media to get the attention of someone from a company when we’re unhappy. We’ve gone from waiting until business hours resume to expecting immediate gratification because of the public-facing walls on Facebook and Twitter, and we want to not only get a resolution to our problem, but we want others to know how upset we are.

Good or bad?

While a lot could be said for both sides, I think there are some basic things to keep in mind when you need to get real customer service on social media. There are ways to make it more productive for both you, the consumer, and the company, without ruffling feathers or letting it stress you out. Working as a team to resolve issues is always faster.

1) Be nice. The person helping is very frequently not the person responsible for the problem nor the person who can personally resolve it. They have to seek help from other departments and those departments may not be staffed 24/7, even if social media is. They also have rules to follow and are going to do their best within their restrictions to get the job done as quickly as possible. Believe me, they want to help you, so kindness goes a long way. Sure, you will still likely get helped if you’re mean and nasty, but what does that get you other than maybe a feeling you’ve vented a little? Vulgarity doesn’t help anyone and you run the risk of others who read your post/tweet/review taking you less seriously.

2) Be patient. See above. Social media staff knows you will likely not forget your beef and they will stay on top of your problem, but again, as they can’t refund you or get you a replacement part or send someone to your home sooner, try to give them some space. They’re likely dealing with numerous issues, frequently during hours where the rest of the world is enjoying family time.

3) Give full details. If you want a speedy resolution, supply the goods. Give your invoice # or some other information that allows them to identify you and/or follow-up on your claim. Just be careful though not to share personal information publicly. Ask for an email address or private message them.

4) Be sure you are properly tagging the company in  your media mentions. This is just the fair way to ensure they see it. Even if your review or commentary is negative, they want to hear your feedback and if they don’t see it, they won’t know about it. Taking the extra minute to find out their Twitter handle is worth it.

5) If you can’t take it anymore and have to make your conversation public, respect the privacy of the people you have been in contact with. Sharing their last name and phone number isn’t cool. The more people that harass them is just going to make it take longer for them to get to your problem and others’ problems. Remember you’re dealing with people doing their jobs, people like you who have feelings…and bills to pay.

6) This may be the most important of all: before you take to social media, try the conventional route first. Just like if you have a fight with your spouse, you won’t put it on his/her public Facebook wall for him/her to respond, with others watching and joining in. You’d give him/her the chance to deal with it privately. Then, maybe if that doesn’t work, you’d put it out there for others to see. (I’m not advocating this, just using an example I think everyone’s seen on Facebook at least once!) Trying to fix things privately is ALWAYS a better alternative. People, companies, products…everyone’s going to have a bad day and forgiveness goes a long way. Pick up the phone, try an email and then if they aren’t responding or it’s that urgent, try social media, but most issues aren’t urgent enough to get all ranty on a public space.

Social media has a lot of uses, and customer service is definitely one, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean it can or should be abused. Remembering that we’re all in it together can save everyone a lot of hassle. Be kind out there!

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