Social Media for Business: Customer Service
By Scott on October 9, 2008
There have been a number of interesting posts lately on ReadWriteWeb regarding the puzzle of Social Media for Business. Businesses have only begun to take advantage of the capabilities of social media tools to empower communications to their customers. In fact Charlene Li showed an interesting example at the Social Media Marketing Summit 2008 of how a Google search for Comcast can do more to damage their brand than reenforce it: She says:
You must understand that the power is now in the hands of consumers.A perfect example of this is the tool Get Satisfaction. This is a social media tool that lets consumers provide customer service feedback whether a company wants it or not. Some quick searches for companies we know shows some familiar names (Herman Miller and Whirlpool are friends who have products listed there without customer service representation — you guys might want to check that out?). Consumers are empowering themselves to solve problems that they find too difficult to address via traditional customer service channels. This means that companies are increasingly pressured to participate in the community of their customers. As corporations can be slow to engage in these sorts of activities and have often blocked access to them on their internal firewalls, they have isolated themselves from the discussion. But how do brand managers and customer service representatives best engage their customers online? First off, where are those customers online? What are they saying about you? Are they on Facebook? Are they blogging about you? One of the easiest things an organization can do to keep track of where their customers are is subscribe to receive Google alerts related to their brand. Find out where people are discussing your product and participate in those discussions. Look at how Comcast handles customer service on Twitter. Not all business have the scale to support this. It takes work. Increasingly the discussion is owned by the customer on a platform beyond the corporationâ€™s control. This can be an unnerving proposition. How do you influence how your brand is perceived when anyone can say anything about your products or services and rank highly in Google? Potential new customers can easily discover a legacy of problems. Google has a hard time forgetting. Having a presence on these platforms can be a mixed bag. You might find that the result is crickets. In the customer service arena, this is less about creating a fan base for your brand and more about ensuring customers are getting the answers they need in the way that they are most comfortable receiving them. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need real estate on Second Life. It is a question of brand stewardship. A social media strategy should be a part of any corporationâ€™s web presence. At the very least, you should take the online pulse of your customers. This means devoting some attention to the situation. That means someoneâ€™s time. It is relatively easy to address consumer confusion when you know what that confusion is. To associate authoritative answers with customer questions is the goal. When someone has a problem, they are probably going to start with Google to find an answer. Ensuring that your answer is there is key. Good SEO is the place to start. Good IA ensures that you are representing yourself appropriately to address your customersâ€™ needs. Why did a user blog about you rather than filling out a contact form? Where is the disconnect? Take a little time today to Google your company. Any surprises?
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