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Customer service and social media: getting it right

Picture for Rene Looper Rene Looper

February 26th 2015

In 2012, O2 received this tweet to their support team:

Tweet pic

In response, they sent this:

Tweet from O2


@Tunde24_7 was delighted to find that O2 spoke ‘slang’ so he retweeted their response to his mate and gained 317 followers in one day.

In our opinion, this is a perfect example of a big business doing customer service right via social media. O2 took its customer’s complaint seriously, replied quickly (within 7 minutes of getting the tweet) and responded to a technical issue in a way that would be easily understood. In the process O2 got a bit of good PR, but this almost certainly wasn’t their intention. Good job O2!

In the past, it was businesses that decided how they were going to communicate with their customers. That has now been turned on its head: consumers will talk to and about brands wherever they do the rest of their talking, and that is likely to be online and on social media.

To do customer service well on social media, you have to be listening to your customers online. Not just what they’re saying to you directly, by posting on your wall or tweeting you, but also what they are saying about you to their friends and followers. There are a number of tools that we recommend for doing this; pick one or the combination that best suits your business and your workflow.

Social mention. A ‘point-in-time’ social media search and analysis service covering 100+ social media platforms. Type in your search term (e.g. your company name) and it will generate a list of mentions as well as measuring your social strength, sentiment, passion and reach.

Google alerts. We recommend setting up Google alerts not only for your company name, but also for your competitors and key industry terms. An estate agent, for example, might want to set up a Google alert for “interest rate” and “mortgage”.

Hootsuite. You may already use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts and keep track of replies, but Hootsuite is also a great listening tool. On a new tab, click the ‘Add Stream’ button then select ‘Keyword’ (Twitter) or ‘Search’ (all social media). This will generate a stream of posts that contain your search terms, so you can see who’s been talking about you online.

Mention. Mention is a comprehensive paid-for tool that monitors millions of sources in 42 languages including social networks, news sites, forums, blogs or any web page. You can export your stats and analyse by tonality, source and language.

It’s important to check these sources regularly as your customers will expect a quick answer. While we’re on the topic: have you published the hours during which your customer support function is available on your social media pages? Once you’ve picked up on a post or a tweet that requires intervention, it is fine to revert to your traditional channels and use email or phone to resolve the issue.

We could write a book about social media and customer service, but we’ve tried to keep it short for the purposes of this blog. To summarise: if your customers are using social media, you need to be offering customer support there. And you should be listening to what people are saying about your company online, even if they’re not saying it directly to you.

Contact us for information about training in social media customer service.

And in case anybody is curious about the rest of the conversation between O2 and @Tunde24_7, you can find it here.

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