A few weeks ago, in our post Use Your Power for Good Not Evil, we wrote about using Twitter as a customer complaint platform. It can be tempting and risky as a consumer to call out bad service on a public platform. Do it effectively, and you can get results. Strike the wrong tone, and your tweet can back fire.

But one thing that almost always generates good results is when brands use social media to augment their customer service efforts. There was a great article in the Washington Post earlier this month about how airlines are interacting with fliers via Twitter.

It just makes sense to connect with your customers on their platform of choice. If your customers are on Twitter, tweet. If they’re on Facebook, post. And if they use that old-fashioned device called the telephone, by all means answer when they call, and list a phone number on your website. Don’t force your customers to adapt to your communication systems; build systems that accommodate the customer.

And while you’re at it, follow these best practices for customer communications:

  1. Be responsive. Social media users expect immediate gratification. Act fast. Even if you can’t solve a problem right away you can at least respond and let your customer know you’re on the case.
  2. Listen. Nothing turns off a customer more than a brand that only communicates one-way. Social media is not a hose through which you pump your marketing messages. It’s a place to have conversations – with people.
  3. Be human. Speaking of people, be human in your social interactions. Remember people do business with people, not with bots.
  4. Shut it down. Sometimes, the point of communication is to stop it. Make sure you quickly and clearly convey the information needed in each update. And if a situation is dragging out, take it off line or to private messages and resolve it behind the scenes.

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