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Why your social media customer service teams are costing you thousands in lost sales

One of my pet peeves is bad customer service. There is no excuse for it and there is certainly no excuse for brands not dealing with poor levels of service when they are aware of it.

A key point to remember is that online and offline are exactly the same. I am pretty sure you wouldn’t ignore a person standing in front of you in a store so why are you ignoring people that are reaching out to you on your social media channels? Makes no sense. They are still customers, or prospective customers, they are real people but they just aren’t face to face. They still have money to spend and they can share a negative experience that can reach thousands of people in one click. If anything, you need to treat them better and acknowledge the power they have as they can simply click to your competitor if you don’t show them some love

This is a problem that extends from small businesses to multinationals (and the big guys are the ones who should know better but get this so wrong)

Poor customer service on social media channels happens every day. In the last 24 hours I have experienced terrible service with 6 brands – named here Agoda, LinkedIn, CUA, Virgin, MeetUp, Kyvio.

And it has cost every single one of them money in lost revenue and future sales, simply because they decided that responding to me in the right way on social was not important.

You see, if you want to be on social and have social channels you need to actually BE ON SOCIAL.
So, if you are actually serious about servicing your customers online, then here are some tips from a real person and customer that you should listen to. Because like me, like thousands of other customers are no longer willing to tolerate it and want you to step up to the game:

DO LISTEN WITH BOTH EARS – listening and hearing are two different things. Listen to my issue, acknowledge (genuinely, not with a form response) and react like a real person, not a robot. The common denominator in most issues I have is with the customer service teams simply NOT listening. They are too focused on reading scripts and sending form responses to take the time to read, listen and understand what is the real issue.

DO TREAT ME LIKE A PERSON – just because we are both behind screens, doesn’t mean there is no emotional or connection with your brand. I am a real human person with real feelings – treat me as such.

DO RESPOND QUICKLY – if I am reaching out to you on social media, this is likely because I want a quick response. I’ve had people respond weeks later and think there was still a chance I would do business with them. Seriously! I need to hear from you within hours – that is what you have notifications for.

DO LET ME CHOOSE MY CHANNEL – don’t dictate how and what channel I can get help on. If I message you on Facebook and ask for someone to call me, then do so. This should be my choice as a customer to interact in a way that makes me comfortable. Be flexible and do whatever you need to in order to help your customer solve their issue. You can turn a frown into a smile with a little effort.

DO HAVE HELP IN MY TIME ZONE – if you are a global company, you should have support in various time zones not just one. If you are in an opposite time zone, every interaction will take 24 hours which can result in it taking weeks to get help. Yes @linkedin I am talking to you in particular. And don’t respond to me with a question when I have already given you the details. Again read, listen and respond accordingly.

DO PUT YOURSELF IN MY SHOES – if the situation was reversed, how would you feel? Have some empathy and remember you are dealing with a person who has real emotions. If this was situation perhaps you’d be feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, helpless and angry. Don’t ignore or discount those feelings.

DO GIVE ME CORRECT INFORMATION – I have lnumberack of the amount of times customer services teams have given me incorrect or information or only half what I needed to know. Think about the bigger picture offer any relevant information to help (and minimise your workload to)

DON’T SEND FORM RESPONSES – There is nothing worse than getting a formal form response. Not only does it show that your brand has no personality but it also says to me that you don’t care. Take a look at how the team at @buffer handle customer service – they answer your questions and treat you like a real person. Imagine that! And imagine how great that makes me feel as a customer. Learn some lessons @hootsuite.

DON’T TAKE FOREVER TO RESPOND – Yes even 24 hours to respond is too long. We live in a world where our attention span in 7 seconds. 24 hours later and I am just angry and frustrated by your lack of response, which further elevates the issue to start with. Be timely.

DO NOT HIDE BEHIND OR QUOTE TERMS AND CONDITIONS TO ME – The quickest way to spark my anger is to tell me something was in the terms and conditions which no one ever reads. It is patronising and does nothing to help an upset customer to sort out a problem.

DO NOT INTERRUPT OR TALK OVER ME – As the customer I should be able to talk and explain my issue and have you listen to me. Not only does talking over me take longer but you will escalate the issue and likely make it worse. Never interrupt me or talk over me unless you want me to go gangster on your arse. Common courtesy goes a long way, especially on social media.

DO NOT SEND ME A BUNCH OF LINKS – Don’t send me a bunch of links and expect me to go and find the answer. Make it easy and answer my questions and don’t give me homework. You are customer service so you should be making my life easier not harder.

DON’T ARGUE WITH ME – You’ve heard the saying that a customer is always right? So instead of arguing with me and telling me I am wrong listen and work with me to find a solution.

DON’T TREAT MY LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN – just because I am not standing in front of you, doesn’t mean I am not important to your business. I expect the same level of service regardless of what channel I am reaching out to you on.

In a world where reviews, clicks, comments and shares are second nature, it is time to step up your game and truly offer customer service on social media, don’t just give it lip service. Customers are walking away and taking their money elsewhere because of your actions. Think about and take some accountability. When you are spending thousands or millions on marketing you are wasting it if you are not responding to the enquiry that drives. And it’s costing you more than what you think.