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Customer Service: Is There Anybody Out There?

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A guest post by Jason Miller of Zoomerang.

Your customers may be wondering what Roger Waters famously asked on the Pink Floyd classic album The Wall: "Is There Anybody Out There?"

The voice of the consumer has never been more powerful, or influential, and has potential to spread virally in an instant. Reacting quickly can often quell negative comments and amplify positive ones. And yet, more than 58% of tweeters who have tweeted about a bad experience have never received a response from the offending company.

In today’s competitive landscape, customer service is more important than ever, and a company’s reputation for satisfying clients has never been so vulnerable. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enables businesses of all sizes to interact directly with customers.

Companies now have the option to not only take a phone call---but also take a Tweet or a Facebook post and drill down into it, see who wrote it, and respond accordingly. Of course, don’t expect social media to replace you customer service department, but instead look for it to increase your overall customer satisfaction.

Your customer service issues are likely to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Customers experiencing difficulty with a product or service

  2. Suggestions for product or service improvements customers would like to see

  3. Better ways to market, sell, support, or communicate with customers

Be prepared to respond quickly and cordially. In some cases you may need to “kill them with kindness" in an effort to offer an experience that exceeds their expectations.

If a customer has a serious issue with no quick resolution, offer an email address in order to take the conversation offline. I would suggest a dedicated “unlisted” special email address (think “Batphone”) to specifically deal with these types of issues. Let the customer know that their message is important and that you are doing your best to rectify.  Your No. 1 goal is to turn a bad experience into a good one, save the customer relationship, and get positive word of mouth. After the issue is solved, following up with a quick personal message can encourage the customer to praise your responsiveness.

You can measure the success of your efforts by defining metrics which reflect your overall strategy (for example, saving money, service improvement, etc.). I would suggest starting with the following metrics:

  • Responsiveness: How fast is your average response time?

  • Complaints: Is the number decreasing?

  • Praise: Is this number increasing?

  • Quick resolutions: Are you able to eliminate calls to customer service?

Make it a priority to review the progress of your customer service strategy and make adjustments accordingly. Send out an online survey through your social channels asking how your company is doing in regards to customer service.

Solving these issues in real time through a company’s social channels shows your dedication, and transparency, to your customers. So the next time your customer tweets "Is there anybody out there?", you can proudly respond with, "Yes! How can we help you?"

Do you use your social media channels to enhance your customer service efforts? Which tools do you find most useful? Do you have any success stories to share?

Jason Miller is a social media marketing manager at Zoomerang.

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  • by Elaine Fogel Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Good reminder, Jason, that organizations need to listen in addition to pushing out messages. Customer voices are such an easy thing to monitor in social media, too. Makes you wonder who's asleep at the switch. :)

  • by Jeanne Byington Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Hi Jason.

    If corporate transparency wasn’t such a fiction, if corporations posted prominently on websites their phone numbers, email and/or mailing addresses so that customers could contact them easily with problems, there wouldn’t be such a need to call out to a broad community to get attention to fix work, service or product-stopping glitches.

  • by Stan Aaronson Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    You get it. Just yesterday I tweeted about Hertz (rentals) customer dis-service and have yet to get a response. I feel this indicates that Hertz is accustomed to defections and makes no effort to mitigate an unfavorable customer experience. Organizations such as Hertz have yet to see value in monitoring social media...and perhaps defections do not negatively effect their bottom line.

  • by Emerald Reilly Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Thank you Jason! You took the words right out of my mouth. Many businesses are failing to see one of the greatest uses for social media, to engage and build relationships with their clients/guests/customers. Marketing and Outreach might be how you attract a customer, but Customer Service is how you keep them. Social Media is an exceptionally great way to do this.


  • by Jason Miller Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for the comment, you are absolutely right that it is so easy to do. Anyone asleep at the switch needs an awakening.


  • by Jason Miller Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Hi Jeanne,

    That's a good point. Although social cannot solve all of those issues, it can be yet another channel to address the issues.

    Thanks for the comment,


  • by Jason Miller Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Hi Stan,

    That is surprising that a company as big as Hertz would not be listening in the social world. I be their competition is, as well as any airline partners they may have.

    Thanks for the comment!


  • by Jason Miller Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Hi Emerald,

    Very well said! Customer service is how you keep them and retaining a customer can be a lot more cost effective than finding a new one.

    Thanks for the comment!


  • by steven wetherell Thu May 5, 2011 via blog

    Companies capture the information from customers and use it for analysis and reporting. They can tweet or post on any social media outlet for marketing strategies to capture new audiences even if the customer response is of negative value.

  • by Darryl McDonald Fri May 6, 2011 via blog

    Social media allows companies to learn more about customers than ever before, and this post really drives home the importance of listening. Steven raises an interesting point, though. Companies need to capture and analyze this data for a more complete picture of their customers - and to take it a step further – integrate it with information they already have.
    We already know a lot about our customers. We have data from call center records, financials, emails and more. To get the most value out of this information, though, we need to socialize, or marry, it with data coming from online sources like social media, RFID tags, sensors.

  • by Virtual Agents Tue May 17, 2011 via blog

    Social media has made it easier for customers to air their voices when it comes to customer service whether negative or positive and companies should really listen more and not just pretend that they are listening to their customers.

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