By Joe Cortez, Interactive Media Specialist, Signature Worldwide
Technology has driven us into some new, unforeseen territory in the last few years. Before, when you had a problem with a company (or its level of perceived service), you would have to call an 800 number and navigate through a touch-tone menu of options just to speak to someone who hopefully could resolve your problem. Today, instead of dealing with the company directly, you can express your dissatisfaction through a public medium such as Facebook or Twitter.
While these conveniences help the consumer greatly cut out clutter to get to the root of a problem, it can be a nightmare for companies trying to serve customers on all fronts. What do we do if we get a bad tweet? How do we respond on Facebook? And do we still need the magic 800 number if people are going to tweet us?
Whether we like it or not, the customer service process is going through a permanent change that we cannot avoid. We can only embrace it. And while it may be an awkward, uncomfortable embrace at first, over time, it will become second nature. And like most modern technological marvels, we’ll wonder how in the world we ever lived without it.
But what do we do in the meantime? How do we work the customer service process we know and love into a new, digital era? While the technologies may have changed (a phone vs. a keyboard), many of the precepts we’ve taught over the years have remained the same. It’s all a matter of applying them in the correct manner.
Leave no customer behind: Just like in the “Pre-Twitter” days, people still will talk about your company. What’s changed is that back then, you didn’t know about it. Today, you’ll hear about it. If a customer has a problem with your service and chooses to air it out on Twitter, don’t leave it at that. Work with them, through that medium, to see if there is a solution to their problem. Apply the same methods you would apply to a customer who is at your front desk or on the phone to resolve their problem, and return them once again to being a happy customer.
Engage your audience—and let them engage back with you: If you have a social media presence, encourage people to engage with it. You would be surprised how many people want to engage with you on a medium, and ultimately will become brand ambassadors for you. Encourage people to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare—and watch the engagement roll in. Plus, you’ll be able to follow up with them better, and ensure a legendary interaction with them from start to finish. For trainers, you can use your online presence to increase and expand the engagement of your attendees and build on the skills they have learned. This online relationship will reinforce the value provided by your training.
Be vigilant with your audiences: At your location, you would notice customers who didn’t have a good experience, right? They would be the ones that were in an angry hurry to leave, or those visibly annoyed or disappointed by their experience. Why aren’t you looking for them in the social media realm? Searching for them doesn’t involve putting archaic commands in Google—it can be as simple as using a Twitter client (such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck), or using Twitter search and looking up your company’s name. Follow people who are talking about your business, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask questions, solicit feedback, or thank them for their business. You would be surprised how easy it is to change a passive user to a brand evangelist.
For bonus points: Look beyond your business name to keywords that are important to you. Suggestions include your city, or terms that are relevant to your business. Again, you would be surprised who you would find looking for your services both traveling into your city, or already here and looking for what you offer.
The customer service paradigm has changed and will continue to change as long as technology evolves and changes. However, as long as you understand this change, and continue to apply the lessons of customer service you’ve developed over the years, your business will be able to stay relevant and forward now and into the future.
Joe Cortez is an interactive media specialist for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.