Your Company, Social Media and Customer Service

My dear readers, just a quick note to let you note that I have just published a second blog post at FatDUX’s blog titled “Your Company, Social Media and Customer Service”. This time it is about customer service, social media, user experience, and why your company should consider employing multiple channels to connect with its customers.

So if you fancy a read, please visit this link or paste! And as usual, don’t forget to browse beyond my post! You might learn something new or encounter a new point of view.

Update: This post is no longer available on FatDUX’ Blog, so please find it below as it was published there on January 19, 2011.

Your Company, Social Media and Customer Service

I got my HSBC Hong Kong online banking security device today… in my mailbox. Up until that moment, I had a great day working on two clients’ performance measurement reports, websites, and listening to great rock music from the ’80. So you can probably understand my immediate flood of anger and frustration.

HSBC Online Banking Security Device

First of all, Bulgarian Post is not the most reliable service provider out there. Just the opposite. I am still waiting on the Christmas card our FatDUX Copenhagen office sent to me last year. I am also waiting for my Luis Figo Portugal football squad jersey sent to me by a friend in the year 2000. But that is a shared reference that HSBC Hong Kong probably does not have. And they don’t have to. What they need to have, of course, is common sense. Who sends a security device by regular mail? We already know the answer to this question. Just look at the first sentence of this blog post.

So, as soon as my face got red and my hand started shaking (the positive individual I am), I started thinking about how to complain about this inconsiderate behavior. I can sure send HSBC and email or call them on the phone. But speaking from experience, I will probably get nowhere and other benevolent users of their services would get the same treatment. So I decided to go to Twitter and Facebook. It turns out that HSBC Hong Kong has no profile in both major social media platforms. I am not going to venture on that. Instead, I am going to write down a few simple reasons why any business should have a Twitter, Facebook, or any relevant to their customer service profiles.

Sometimes, although you as a company are trying to create the best product, there are always things that someone will not like about it. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I like to look at it as a learning curve and constant user research through monitoring and receiving feedback from real-life users. It gives you an opportunity to be constantly tuned up. This not only works for you as a company but also creates an opportunity to offer a better user experience.

Here are the channels that a company should exploit to the full extent of gaining feedback, knowledge about its products, and solve real problems:

  1. Phone number – This is a no brainer. But please, do have someone answering this phone! And may this person show empathy, understanding, and care. No one likes being frowned upon or not being listened to.
  2. Email – The same as the above one with the twist that emails should be actually answered to. No, not in the way to shove out a problem, but to offer a solution and care. Just remember the times when you sent hundreds of job applications and the majority of emails were telling you that you are great, but just not suitable enough.
  3. Facebook Page – Hire a community manager, if you get tons of traffic, questions, and comments. Remember that online everything counts. It stays there and it can be found. A problem that was not addressed right away does not disappear and you are not free to go ahead. Soon or later it will come back and bite you. Left alone, everybody is seeing it on your wall. And don’t think of deleting it. The crowd will just run you over like a Desert Storm.
  4. Twitter profile – This is the major bragging platform on the Internet nowadays. Should a tweep be unhappy, he/she resorts to venting out in his/her tweets… Just think of this! the other day I had a problem getting the DNS addresses on a GoDaddy [Link] hosted client website. In a moment of frustration, I sent a tweet and GoDaddy came back to me within an hour through their Twitter profile, solved the problem, and thanked me for letting them know.
  5. Your Corporate Website –  Create a Q&A section with real questions and answers! Oh, and make sure that no marketing or sales manager is heading this particular project. The purpose of the whole Q&A section is to solve customer problems, not up-sell products or services he/she is not happy with. However, the marketing and sales professionals’ advice is a must. After all, many of them are talking to the customer on a daily basis.
  6. Google Alerts & Other Social Monitoring Tools – Get delivered daily emails with search queries results on specific keywords – your product, brand name, competition, etc. The Google bot is crawling the Internet and I imagine that you wouldn’t mind knowing what people blog about you and the stuff you sell, right? So, use it to your advantage.
  7. Industry-Specific Social Media Networks & Fora – YouTube, LinkedIn, Quora and others, designated fora, discussion boards, and blogs. Be there, monitor, and participate in the discussion! Don’t trash, but cash on being genuine, caring, and solving customer issues. And also, wouldn’t it be great to have people telling you what improvements they want to see in your products. Here goes a bit of your R&D cost, too.

Be there, listen, empathize, and solve problems! Bad user experience sometimes can be turned into a good UX, sometimes even a great one. And that extra mile you take will make wonders when the user has to decide whether to purchase your product or your competitor’s.

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Copyright © 2011 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.