Any student of social media has heard of the debates and the successes several companies have enjoyed by opening up their customer service department to respond to customer gripes via social media.
And, they’ve heard of the failures.
In the end, the verdict is coming down that yes, you should be having a customer service presence on social media. But as you do so, remember that social media, though it has significant advantages (especially in light of telling the world that you actually DO customer service,) it is far from the ideal, complete solution.
Case in point. I just spent 3 hours dealing with the team at Norton (Symantec: SYMC) trying to figure out how to allow my computers to actually see each other on the network. Of course, as a mini-geek, I’ve already tried all the standard stuff, so by the time I contact tech support, it’s because it’s a serious issue.
(Norton could learn from frequent reference to Don’s Law #14: “Anything that requires directions is an insufficiently developed technology.”)
Ann, my fearless customer support professional, after 2.5 hours, actually pulled it off and everything worked! Then we turned to my minor second issue.
This time Ann really blew it. Instead of actually doing what I asked her to do 3 times, and looking at the logs, where the error statement was clearly listed, Ann decided to blow away the backup set that had taken me two weeks to create and start a new one. So now, instead of having a problem fixed, I have to wait another 2 weeks to arrive where I started from, and I’m almost certain to have to contact them again to resolve the problem once it recurs. What’s worse, she did it all without asking my permission.
As you can imagine, our little chat quickly twisted from delight to let’s just say, less than thrilled.
I was testing her to see what would happen, and Norton actually got it. Out of the blue in the middle of my online chat, my phone rang, with her supervisor wanting to talk instead of handle the issue through chat. And while he didn’t do what he should have done (read: give me something free,) he did quickly and effectively defuse the situation.
As I reflected upon that, I saw the wisdom in what he did, and I agree with his tactics.
Key learning – social media and online tools work great for certain things, but when emotions get high, get on the phone and get it resolved!
Remember that as you set up your company’s social media-based customer service functions!
How has social media customer service worked for you? What do you find to be best practices? Let me know by leaving a comment below.