It’s rare I publicly name and shame about poor customer service on social media, but I know many others don’t share my view. I read an absolute ripper of a brand rant on Facebook yesterday! Disappointingly (for me!) it has now disappeared. It was truly excellent writing!

This is why, in the age of social media, customer service is even more important than ever.

People turn to social media for three main reasons when it comes to customer service. To ask for help with a service issue, to praise a brand for a great experience, and to share information about their experience.customer serviceWe know that 77% of Australians own a smartphone and that 56% of web users are now accessing the internet primarily through their mobile device. This means they don’t even need to leave your premises before complaining to their friends and followers!

With the growing popularity of smartphones combined with the massive increase in the use of social media (twitter, facebook, instagram, blogging etc), businesses really need to make sure they are up to scratch, otherwise they could see themselves splashed on the first page of a Google search for all the wrong reasons.

And if you don’t have an active social media presence, you may not even know what they are saying!!!

Who remembers the United Breaks Guitars debacle? More than 15 million YouTube views and rising. And all because United Airlines didn’t reply to complaints of poor customer service from a very unhappy customer. This had a massive impact on their business, with reports their shares dropped by 10% in response, costing shareholders $180m. Ouch!

Facebook is the most popular social networking site accessed via a mobile, with 87% of its active users accessing it via mobile; 80% of twitter users access it via mobile.

So as a business owner, think about what this means in terms of getting immediate feedback. While it’s great when you provide excellent service, think of the potential damage to your brand if your customers tweet or facebook about what they really think when you fail. Particularly if the person having a whinge has a lot of followers.

There are far too many brands who do social media really, really poorly. I’m sure you know who I mean without my needing to name and shame. In case you are one of those brands, and you don’t get it, well consider this: you know how frustrating it is when people don’t return your phone call? Well not replying when people talk to you on social media is just as annoying.

And then there are those brands who do it really, really well.

Hello @Qantas, @Telstra, @AmericanAirlines, @VirginAmerica, @Optus, @iinet. I’m talking about all of you – and many others, both large and small. You all get what good customer service on social media is. Primarily it’s replying to people when they talk to you. You might not be able to solve their problem, but you will at least let them know you heard it. And are (hopefully) doing something about it.

Jason Laird, Executive Director of Communication at Telstra, told me recently that 25% of his team is dedicated to social media. And he is aiming for 50%. Now that’s impressive.

customer service

And don’t think good customer service on social media is only for the big brands. My twitter thrills came today when Harlan Coben, one of my favourite authors, replied to my tweet saying I’m a big fan. YAY!

customer serviceSocial media and customer service influencer Marsha Collier said on twitter earlier today, “I’m afraid I am not very patient. The internet gives us many options on where to spend my money. Egregious #custserv is not acceptable”.

I have no doubt this reflects the views of many. It certainly reflects mine.

Do you engage with brands on social media? What has your customer service experience been? Good, bad or downright ugly?


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