Social media is changing the way companies handle their customer service – or at least it should be.
Severe thunder storms during the 4th of July holiday left over 340,000 DTE Energy customers without power. While many customers took to their phones to report nearby outages and damages, a large number of customers made their voices heard through the social web; posting pictures of the damage and reporting outages to DTE Energy directly on Twitter.
Down power line with fire and buzz.Show up DTE? Where is Louie the lightening bug? twitter.com/MGLiparoto/sta…
— Marygrace Liparoto (@MGLiparoto) July 5, 2012
And how did DTE Energy handle it? Not so well… Surely they had their hands full, but failing to respond to customers on social media is a public misstep. Others will see this and assume the worst of the company when DTE’s customers are publicly complaining and asking for help, only to be ignored.
Been having power issues for days. Can’t get any action from @DTE_Energy. Not happy customers right now.
— Donna Schultz (@donnaltw) July 15, 2012
It’s not only important to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner, but to relay the correct message as well. Obviously, smaller businesses have it easier than DTE Energy in this realm by having a significantly smaller customer base to satisfy on social networks. However, poor customer service on social networks can be even more devastating to a small business’s reputation for the same reason.
This infographic from Bluewolf (pictured below) outlines the growing importance of providing customer service through social media channels.
Ford Motor Company, based out of Dearborn, MI, has embraced social media better than most companies. They are known for their proactive online customer support and the FordSocial blog, which allows customers to interact and share their experiences.
Ford has established a good reputation for customer service online by setting a goal to respond to all tweets from customers within four hours. They also go above and beyond by visiting forums that include discussions of their brand and responding to users who did not directly address them. Acts like these exceed customer expectations and ensure satisfaction.
— Jessie Dluzynski(@JessieDee123) July 11, 2012
This article from Social Media Examiner emphasizes the importance of speed and personalization when addressing customers on Twitter. By responding quickly, getting personal, using DMs and joining conversations your company can reach consumers on a more personal level. The idea is to make the conversation feel as if it were happening face-to-face.
— Mark Miller (@m2photog) July 12, 2012
In this new digital landscape when things begin to go awry, it’s crucial to address your customers’ issues effectively. Practice timeliness, transparency, respect, and gain a solid understanding of the community you are engaging with. Following these simple steps will help take your business’s online customer service to the next level and result in happy customers.