Teresa Ovalle

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Customer Service via Social Media – Week 4

on December 17, 2014

Customer Service via Social Media


Customer service is hugely important. I’ll be the first to admit that I will pay more for a product because of outstanding customer service. I will also tip more and I will be loyal to a company or brand because of the customer service I’ve received. When a company turns my negative experience into a positive one, that company rates more kudos and I will more than likely continue to do business with them.

Good customer service isn’t experienced just in stores, however, it is experienced online and in the social media realm on a daily basis. In Courtney Seiter’s article, “The Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service,” she explains that customer service matters on social media because, “Customers want, expect and are prepared to reward great social media customer service, but not many brands are living up to their expectations.” (page 3)

The process of using social media for customer service may vary from business to business, so I will use my social media workflow as an example. Jeremiah Qwyang, author of Breakdown: Social Media Workflow, Process and Triage explains that social media workflow, process or triage, “is a sequence of connected steps that enables the entire organization to act efficiently with minimal overlapping tasks and resources in order to serve the market in social channels and beyond.” (page 1) So answering in the medium the requester used is important, but so is the timeliness of the request, as well as giving the correct response.

Before we begin, however, let me state that the response should be sent back to the requester through the channel in which she sent the request. For instance, “If a customer asks for help on Twitter, they want their answer in the form of a tweet, not an email. If they post a question on Facebook, they don’t want to be told to call an 800 number.” (Seiter, page 9)

As part of the workflow, we want to ensure we ‘harnessing our empathy’ (Seiter, page 13). Seiter suggests that we, “Don’t just listen; understand. What’s the real meaning behind the comment or question?” Determining this early will help the workflow process tremendously by not bogging down the process with issues that do not need to be responded to.

Now for the workflow process, upon arrival of the request, it should be determined what type of request it is. It could be praise, criticism, a complaint or a simple question such as, “Where does your club meet?” Once the type of request is determined, the answering process can begin.

Praise is easy to answer. As part of the workflow, we do have request to queries (RTQs) ready, to include positive feedback, so anyone on staff can respond to praise just by looking at the list of RTQs and the possible responses. As mentioned above, we’ll respond to the requester via the medium they wrote in on to ensure we connect with them where they are.

The simple questions are easy to answer as well. Just as with the praise, most of the staff can answer the simple questions by looking through the RTQs and choosing one that best answers the question. If there is doubt, the staff member can slightly modify an answer to meet the criteria or they can request guidance, but since the RTQ list is extensive, it usually makes the simple questions easy to contend with.

Just because we receive a criticism or complaint, doesn’t mean we need to respond. As Seiter suggests, “… know that not every mention – or event every complaint – is an invitation to enter a conversation,” (page 12)

But if the are worthy, the criticism and complaints may take more work and we want to ensure we respond correctly, so our initial response will be to let the requester know that we are working the issue that we’ll respond to them in a timely manner. As Brandwatch.com suggests in its eBook Prepare to Respond, “It’s better to communicate that you’re working on the proper response, set a realistic expectation of time, and then deliver a real resolution. After all, customers want resolutions, not spin.” (page 7)

Once the initial response is sent, criticism or complaint will work its way through the rest of the workflow process, which includes determining whether the request is related to a product or the company. Once that is determined, the request will proceed to a staff member in the appropriate section. If the request is within the RTQ guidelines and needs no further guidance, the staff will answer the requester via the channel the request came in.

If the request needs further guidance, then it will be forwarded to a higher level of leadership for guidance. Once this guidance is received, then the request will answered through the channel in which it came.

The intent is for all requests to get answered in a timely manner, knowing that some answers may take more time than others. Social media is instant and it is now, so responding to the requester as quickly as possible could easily mean the difference between a positive share or a negative share to their friends.