Zen-Like Customer Service And Support - InformationWeek

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07:49 AM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren

Zen-Like Customer Service And Support

Have you started using social media to sell your products or services? If your answer is yes, you're moving in the right direction. Here's another question: Have you incorporated social media into your customer support strategy?

Have you started using social media to sell your products or services? If your answer is yes, you're moving in the right direction. Here's another question: Have you incorporated social media into your customer support strategy?That is, do you monitor and respond to conversations about your company that are taking place at websites such as Twitter and Facebook? If you answered yes to both questions, you're really ready to rock and roll. The reality is, SMBs can't ignore social media anymore. What's more, you need to leverage it in every area of your business, from networking and marketing to customer service and support.

If you are using social networking in the customer support arena, you may have heard of a company called Zendesk, which offers cloud-based help-desk software. Zendesk's customer base is broad, including big players (think Groupon, MSNBC, and Twitter) and SMBs, which comprise about 50% of the San Francisco-based company's 5,000-plus clients.

Zendesk delivers a cross-channel customer support solution. That means it doesn't matter whether a customer calls Company X, sends an e-mail, or Tweets a friend about his displeasure with the vendor's refund policy. All of those communication channels are tied together (presuming Company X uses Zendesk or a similar solution).

"Quality of service is the No. 1 differentiator for businesses today," says Zack Urlocker, COO of Zendesk. "You have to deliver service and support in multiple channels, on the customer's terms. It's so easy for the customer to go elsewhere."

Urlocker offers a few tips to SMBs that want to stand apart from the pack when it comes to customer service and support:

-Deliver service to customers in the channels/media they want to use. In the old days, a customer who called a company's support team and said they had already sent an e-mail would be told they had to start from square one because the company's e-mail and phone systems were two separate, disconnected entities. Today it's important to have a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. That applies to mobile devices as well. You should be able to offer customer support via an iPad, a BlackBerry, an Android phone, etc.

-Monitor social networks. Businesses need to monitor what people are saying about them at Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. But they also need to move beyond monitoring and into engagement. Turn a Tweet into a trouble ticket. Address the author of a negative Facebook post and "make the conversation private," Urlocker says. "Taking on the customer one-on-one--through an e-mail or a phone conversation, for example--allows you to address the customer' specific concerns and turn a negative situation into a positive one."

-Empower customer support personnel/teams. The faster you can respond to a customer's concerns, the better. Allow customer service reps to take matters into their own hands by issuing a refund or giving out a coupon. Having to escalate a trouble ticket and move it endlessly up the chain of command just draws things out and can ultimately turn off the customer, Urlocker says.

For more on using social media for customer support, read "Being 'Social' With Customers: A Tricky Business," a blog I posted in October 2010.

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