Prepare a strategy for social media customer service

Facebook's new messages on iPhoneBusinesses work social media to help make them successful, but it is wise not to just rush in and set up Facebook and Twitter accounts without having a viable plan. While good reviews about a company’s product or services may build brand loyalty, a problem with a product or service can quickly escalate and get out of control. Social media is vulnerable to circumstances, content, and interpretation. An angry person can cause havoc. So how should a business prepare for Facebook or Twitter?

A business never wants to get into any kind of social media over a crisis. Those need to be monitored all the time because they get emotional very quickly. That’s where policy procedures come into play. If you’re going to join in, the conversations have to be constantly monitored. In the event of a complex crisis, a customer service representative has to intervene and address the problem privately and quickly. Before Twitter, when a consumer purchased a new product and it failed miserably, the customer would call customer service or return the product, but now Twitter and Facebook afford the opportunities for an angry customer using 140 characters to cause bad feelings and bad business reviews. People want informative and consistent responses; be prepared to have knowledgeable personnel monitoring the situation.

A good way to break into a more controlled social media environment is using moderated chat groups. Customers can comment on products and services, but a moderator approves or disapproves messages. This provides another chance for a company that is properly prepared to intervene early as soon as a problem is recognized.

Some businesses are reluctant to even step foot into the social part of the internet citing confidentiality and lack of productivity from employees as excuses. Chalk that up as reverting back to the cave days of technology when employees were denied access to computers at their desks or even the use of cell phones at work. Even if a company doesn’t have any social media accounts, what is to stop an irate customer in Waterville, Maine posting on Facebook about terrible service in a bed and breakfast establishment they had just stayed at while on their trip to Florida? The bottom line is that while Facebook has created many opportunities, it has also created obligations.

The desire to stay connected continues to expand. Smartphones connect us to everyone; not just the people in our workforce, and the promise of new technology is ever-expanding.

photo credit: Robert Scoble