Back in June, Kyle Bunch, an executive producer at R/GA, tweeted about a bad experience he’d had on the phone with a customer service representative from Delta Airlines. The airline responded by giving him 3,700 free frequent flyer miles.
Not long thereafter, his wife flew with Delta and during the course of her flight had a panel fall on her head. Delta’s response was to give her 3,700 free miles as well.
Mr. Bunch tweeted in response:
Delta responded by upping his wife’s compensation to 5,000 miles.
In the social age, your customer service online is visible to your fans and followers, not to mention the fans and followers of your customers. One misstep could result in bad publicity gone viral in a hurry.
Because of this, many experts recommend that your customer service online be stellar, proactive, and transparent. And while these are excellent tips, it’s important to include a caution as well.
While your customer service online should reflect the best of what your company represents, there’s a danger in a boomerang effect of your customer service online inspiring a culture of entitlement among your customers.
The public nature of how you handle complaints on social media as part of your customer service online experience and policy means that there’s a whole world watching your interactions with your customers. And giving some kind of compensation to one person makes it likely that others will expect similar compensation if they have a negative interaction with your company. Even if it’s out of your company’s control.
This could become a disaster, honestly. And this is a hugely important area of your customer service online strategy to consider well in advance of it becoming an issue! How will your brand respond to complaints online?
One example is provided by the airline JetBlue, who has a single customer service policy, regardless of how customers get in touch with the airline. The company has had to revise its policy in some instances. But ultimately, the company’s approach is one of being consistent when addressing customer service online complaints via social media.
Because social media is so public, being consistent gives people an expectation of what your response to your customer service online issues will be. So they’ll be less likely to try to be the squeaky wheel on your Twitter or Facebook page, attempting to force you to compensate them in some way.
What’s a brand to do?
Tips For Creating Your Customer Service Online Policy
1. Start Early
The time to consider your customer service online policy related to social media feedback is before there’s an issue, not as an issue is unfolding. You may find you need to tweak your policy to get it just right, as did JetBlue. But starting early gives you a game plan rather than putting you behind the power curve when the stuff hits the fan.
2. Be Consistent
I mentioned this earlier, but nothing will kill your credibility as a company as inconsistency. Develop a policy ahead of time that gives you the ability to be consistent in your customer service online. This will help you be seen as fair in your response to any issues that are made public in a social media forum.
3. Be Personable
Nothing attacks your customer service online like a “canned” response to a critical Tweet or Facebook posting. If someone posts a customer service problem online, take a personable approach. Consider a response such as, “Hi Mark, this is Serena from YourCompany.com. I’m sorry to hear of your experience with our product. I’ve just sent a message to your inbox so we can get some more information and help address your concerns.” This also allows you to guide the conversation into a more private forum in a way that is professional and polite.
As you build your brand online, have you given thought to your customer service online policy? (If not, I’d love to know that too!) Leave a comment below – I’d sure love to hear from you!