Social media customer care and the dangers of over-servicing

Social media customer care and the dangers of over-servicing

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The need to engage with and respond to customers in social media is evident to many brands. Customer service is being taken from contact centres and from one-to-one interchanges to discussions in social media for all to see. How should this be done? Which issues should You respond to? And how should you respond?

There are many ways to get customer care right on social media and different brands (with different audiences and complaints) will need to respond in different ways. But however you choose to respond and interact, there is one rule that all brands should follow:

Do not offer special treatment to people just because they raise the issue in social media

Now there are many reasons why some people might get different levels of customer service than others – their value to you as a business (either as fans or advocates) might be one of them. But just because somebody raises an issue in social media should not, of itself, mean they get special treatment.

However, for many brands, and for the people managing their social media presences, this can be a difficult decision to make. They do not like seeing unhappy customers, or people criticising their brand. They also often want to quell the public discussions and to be seen to be responding and solving the problem. They want people to see them as a responsive, reactive brand that will do anything to solve a customer’s problems. There can be a temptation to try to resolve things at all costs – quicker, more fully and often more generously than the issue would be resolved through other channels.

This behaviour is often driven from the right desires and aims. But it can have a perverse reaction.

The proportion of any brand’s customer care issues that are resolved in social media will still be relatively small. Most will be done one-to-one by phone, email or other communications. The desire to fix the public complaints is huge and many customers know this – provoking and complaining louder than they would otherwise. However, brands must resist this urge. You may need to change and refine your customer service approach for all channels, but you should not do this for social alone.

The minute you give those who complain in social media special treatment word will spread. You will move from a small proportion of complaints in these public channels to many many more. People wil quickly realise it is a quick way to get their problem fixed and will flood there.

So don’t give people special treatment just because they complain in social media. Don’t change your customer care processes just for them. Maybe consider how you change them for everybody.

Photo credit: Help by LiminalMike