Social media has offered companies a way to communicate with customers that was previously not possible. If you hadn’t noticed, your customers have noticed this trend also. Customer expectations have changed significantly in the last five years. Customers now have higher expectations about how companies will market and sell products & services and also how customers are serviced and valued by the companies they do business with. This can mean providing customer service and support in places it may not already exist, across social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, and across mobile or tablet devices. Gone are the days when a company could build out a call center to handle customer service via 1-800 number and keep customers satisfied.
Why does this matter? For starters, customers that have a good customer service experience are likely to purchase again, according to a recent study from eMarketer on Best Practices for Building Loyalty in Customer Service Experiences. There is no rocket science here, if companies are able to meet customer expectations, and provide satisfactory outcomes during customer service experiences, they will remain loyal to that brand. The second reason it’s critical to deliver on customer expectations during a service experience is also nothing new, word of mouth. Both satisfied and unsatisfied customers tell other people about their experiences, positive and negative. According to the 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer study conducted by American Express, customers that feel like they have a good customer service experience with the brand tell an average of 15 other people. However, those customers that are disappointed with the customer experience with the brand will go on tell an average of 24 other people. Given the hyper-connectivity of your customers (150+ million Twitter users and over one billion Facebook users), you can quickly see how a negative experience can damage your brand. There is more in the book on social customer service, and leveraging data to improve customer service. Stay tuned…
That is all helpful background, but what’s the point? Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago. What happened a couple of weekends ago? Ah, yes, the weekend of February 2nd and 3rd, which is also known as Super Bowl weekend. Super Bowl weekend is the weekend where people across America get together, have some good eats (and drink) and enjoy the big game. It also is one of the busiest weekends for the television manufacturers. Yours truly, not excluded.
On that Saturday I went to the local Best Buy with the intent to buy a new television. After much debate I ended up purchasing a new Samsung 55″ LED display. I loved everything about the picture in the store, and had numerous friends recommend Samsung as an excellent television. I got the television home, set it up and started watching. No problem, right? Well, not until the next morning. For some reason, the television on the second day started turning itself off and on. I couldn’t figure out what happened. I spoke to Samsung Technical Support via the 1-800 number, and it still wouldn’t stop. Naturally I was frustrated that I just spent a significant amount of money on a new television and it wasn’t working. What did I do? Turn to Twitter, of course.
What happened next is where the story really gets good. Jess Kalbarczyk, one of the Samsung Online Customer Support leads reached out (via my good friend, Stephanie Wonderlin) and asked if there was anything she could do to help. Mind you, this was less than an hour after my initial tweet AND on a Sunday. I expressed my frustration with the product and told Jess that I was going out of town that Thursday, and needed the television fixed by Wednesday otherwise I would be returning it for a different model. Jess, and the Samsung Support team got to work very early on Monday morning. The service center called me and diagnosed the problem in a 5 minute phone call, and then ordered the new part. Tuesday afternoon the service center called and scheduled an appointment for Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon a technician came out and fixed the problem in less than 20 minutes. All of this took place as Jess and her team were constantly following up with me via Twitter, email and phone on the progress behind the scenes. It was an incredible experience delivered by Jess and team.
What can you learn from this if you are planning a social media customer service effort?
- Your company is always “on” – Forgive the pun given my television’s issues, but if you are truly serious about social media customer service you have to be always on. Sure, you can set hours, and many brands do. But, you should be prepared to handle off-hours requests as they come in. Jess reached out to me via her personal channel, but she still identified herself as someone from Samsung Customer Support.
- Contact/Resolution must come quickly – If Jess and the team would have waited until “normal business hours” to respond they would have lost a sale. That isn’t being dramatic. That is just the fact. Her initial contact to me was within an hour of my initial complaint. Samsung successfully diagnosed the problem, ordered a part and had it installed in about 48 hours. If you are going to embark on a social media customer service program you had better be ready to respond in very short order.
- Same customer service rules apply – Just because I voiced my frustration on Twitter does not mean the Samsung team can be cavalier about my experience. It is an informal media, but I am still the customer and they are still the company who sold it to me. Ensuring that the proper respect is given (on both sides) is essential
- Measurement is still important – One of the things I loved most (shocking, I know) is that the Samsung Customer Support team shared a brief, three question survey to measure its performance. Anecdotal feedback, like this blog post, are not enough. Teams like this should be able to demonstrate value through positive customer satisfaction scores.
I am not overstating it to say that the Samsung Support Team saved a sale. In a couple of hours of work, Jess and the team saved a $1,000 sale. It seems to me that is a pretty positive return on Samsung’s investment.