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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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