Customer Service in the Social Age

The social age is wildly fascinating to me. The ability for all of us to connect electronically at a moment’s notice has totally revolutionized the way we engage in and maintain professional relationships and friendships. Thus, it should not be a huge surprise that we have let some of this social media connectivity creep into our retail relationships. We now, more than ever, expect our big box retailers as well as many of our beloved boutiques to have an online social presence so that we can stay abreast of their latest sales and products. More importantly, we have started to lean on these retailers to provide us support when transactions or interactions go south. And, naturally, the truly exceptional retailers have adapted their offerings to acknowledge this level of support we require. To someone of my parents’ generation, though, the concept of social customer service is incredibly baffling. So I wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the great ways to optimize your own customer service through social media outlets.

Live Chat is a lifesaver for those of us who don’t have the time or the energy to wait on the phone on hold. It allows us to multitask and remain active as we wait for a message response from a specialized agent on the other end who is able to access back office support systems to investigate our concerns. Simply have the relevant order, product, or shipping information at your disposal, and be sure to provide the online rep all of the required information for them to leverage the tools at their disposal (i.e. their internal systems for CRM, Billing, Order Management, etc) to provide you quick and easy help. Also – don’t be afraid to ask for partial (or full) refunds if you were not satisfied. Many companies will be quick to provide you a coupon or gift certificate towards your next purchase for your trouble.

Facebook messaging or Tweeting has given us an outlet to issue cries for help directly to our retailers, either by direct messaging, tagging, or mentioning them in a post. Superb retailers will almost always respond in a timely manner to social outbursts, and in many cases they will look to follow you in order to provide more immediate resolutions the next time you need assistance. When dealing with these sorts of conversations, try to get the company’s representative to have a direct conversation as soon as you can so that you can provide them critical information like frequent shopper/traveler numbers without having those be publicly visible. Allowing reps to have more direct access to your consumer profile (if applicable) will always get you better service than an ordinary customer off the street.

Online help forums or complaint sites can be useful as well for ensuring that your complaint is rightfully handled.  It’s as easy as googling “Delta Complaints” (or, of course, an equivalent mechanism for your preferred company of complaint) to get to the right place.  Often times, you are simply asked to indicate the time and nature of your complaint, and you will be rewarded with amenities from the appropriate customer care department in order to repay you for any inconvenience you may have endured through a transaction or interaction with your company of interest.  I personally have chosen this route many times and, while the repayment might not be to my liking, I am at least usually given something in return for my woes.  And something is always better than nothing.

I’m not the king of complaining and I don’t try to be, but if there is a provider out there who isn’t meeting your expectations, the only way to change that is by saying something.  So please be smart when you embark as a consumer in the social age.  You might be pleasantly surprised at what the customer service you are provided yields you.

Til Next Time,

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