I'm a sucker for good social media customer service. By that I mean a brand who doesn't (just) use social to 'engage' (why, I don't need engaging about your latest product thank you very much - I just need it to WORK!). I'm talking about a brand who actually cares about and responds to customer feedback and queries initiated via social, and does so in a way that makes sense.
Making sense = Focused around actual customer needs, making my life easier, removing (not creating) obstacles.
Too often it's (still) the case that the person who handles Twitter doesn't know what the team dealing with email is doing, let alone the team handling the phones (I've recently had a rather disjointed experience when trying to pay council tax in Aberdeen).
As an ex- Social Media Manager / Head of Social, I've explored the use of social media for customer service and lead on a strategy that hooked social into an existing telephone and email customer support team, exactly to avoid the above situation. The key to social media customer service is a seamless experience for your customers, no matter what channel they contact your business on (or what device, for that matter).
The system I set up allowed the company to have a scalable, cross-team approach to providing customer service on social media (Facebook and Twitter), as well as extracting qualitative feedback reports and evaluating community content to feed into different business areas (e.g. marketing, customer service, corporate communications). Yes, we still had people on the phone - but the phone agents were also the social customer service agents, dealing with questions coming in from this channel (but still tied back to the original customer service team and their KPIs).
Social Media Customer Service - Best Practice Example
A company that seems to understand this is Scottish Hydro, and I thought I share this example to illustrate my points. I got in touch with them the other day via Twitter, as their website didn't appear to have registered my meter readings (and they kept sending me email reminders despite my having entered them).
Rather than going through the cumbersome process of following each other on Twitter and sending DMs (140 char limit!), they directed me to this brilliant webform:
Simple but effective! They just collect all initial queries and channel them through to the right department.
You can even choose what communication channel you'd like them to use for their response (email, in my case. Always good to have things in writing hehe).
Another advantage is that the simple form allows them to keep a record and measure the number and type of queries and channels used. This means they can set benchmarks and measure and improve effectiveness (and ROI) over time.
Most importantly, however, this is social customer service focused on actual customer need: fast, useful, and a service that makes my life easier.
The first rule of social, after all, is that it needs to be either entertaining or useful (for your customer, not for you), and if you're neither, you're doing something wrong.