Get Better Customer Service on Social Media

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If you are a regular twimbo (Zimbos on Twitter, fyi) you will have noticed the almost constant stream of complaints and responses aimed at a leading mobile network. Between unresponsive call centers and endless phone menus, it’s no surprise more of us are turning to social media when we need customer service.

Some companies are responsive … others, not so much. Getting the best, fastest help over social media is part dark art and part rocket science. Getting the attention of a company on Twitter or Facebook is usually as easy as sending them a Facebook message, posting to their wall, or using their Twitter handle. Those things work well enough. However, getting good help (that is, getting someone with the power to help) takes more than just mentions and wall posts.

There’s more to getting the best customer service than just leaving a complaint asking for help. There are six basic ideas to make sure your complaint is treated with the respect it deserves;  Be Nice, Be Genuine, Be Informed and ready, Be prepared to take it offline, Be persistent, and Use all social platforms, it’s okay.

In short, many of the same rules that apply to other avenues of customer service apply on social media as well. Our tone and approach count for a lot, and it’s important to remember there’s another person on the other end of that screen – a human being, just like you. Odds are, that person wants to help, but you have to give them the information they need to do it.

Be prepared to take the conversation to direct messages or email. It may feel like the company is trying to shuffle you away from public view, but often they need personal information (phone number, account number, answers to security questions) that they can’t ask for in public. Plus, no company wants visitors to their page or profile to see nothing but a huge troubleshooting session with one person. It looks like they’re doing damage control, even if someone is just asking a routine question.

If you’re serious about getting help with your problem, reply directly to the company’s account, send them a Facebook message, or leave a post on their wall. It may seem obvious, but I frequently see people @-replying a company in the middle of a contextless complaint, or worse, not actually using tagging the company at all (aka, subtweeting).

I’ve also seen other people mention companies they’re having trouble with in their private Facebook posts, or in long comment threads—places that the company likely can’t leave a response or may not see.

The people who get the fastest, most accurate replies are the ones who reach out directly, and have the information they need for the rep behind the screen to look up their information and work on their problem. Try to make your tweet or Facebook message as informative as possible. Don’t waste characters on snark. It may be tempting to vent, but every character counts, and brevity is as important as completeness.

Sending a tweet takes seconds, and it can feel like you’re having a real-time conversation if someone’s actively responding to you. However, remember you’re one person with a problem; the person on the other end may be dealing with a dozen cases at the same time. It’s not the same as talking to a call center rep on the phone. You may need to give them time to research your issue and get back to you, even if they replied to you seconds ago. If you’re worried about the timeframe, ask them when they’ll get back to you.

The internet makes it fast and easy to make yourself heard, but often the people who work social media are part marketing, part customer service. Sometimes they don’t have the permissions or authority to give you what you want, and have to create a ticket for you and escalate it themselves. Other times, your issue may require real digging, especially if there’s history to it.

Social media can be a fast, powerful way to get your problems resolved. The best companies handle their social channels well, respond quickly, and have people behind the screen who are empowered to help you with your problems. Not every company is like that though, and getting help from them takes a little more work.

Either way, with these tips, you just may be able to get the help you need without the headache of holding for five minutes listening to Celine Dion records.