How to Dodge a Customer Service Crisis on Social Media

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    [Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Justin Belmont, founder of Prose Media. With so many customers flocking to social media to have their problems resolved, it’s absolutely critical that you’re prepared to meet them there.]

    Are you missing out on opportunities to stop crises before they start on social media?

    Maybe you’ve been neglecting your company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, and it has suddenly hit you that that your business isn’t doing so great. Coincidence? Maybe not.

    The days of waiting on hold for the next available representative are coming to an end, and social media is taking over customer service. If you’re not replying to all customer tweets and posts online, you may be losing business and damaging your reputation.

    1. Why You Need to Respond

    One million people viewed a customer service related tweet per week, and 80% of the tweets are negative or critical, according to a infographic. Imagine you run a coffee shop in Manhattan, and prospective customers are reading tweets about botched espressos and dirty tables. The odds of them stopping by have just taken a hit. Of Americans aged 18 to 30, 38 million said that social media influence their purchasing decisions; keeping up with your customers online is a must for business success.

    A few weeks ago my friend wanted to buy a shirt from Nike that was released on presale. He was bummed that that he couldn’t click fast enough and had just missed their last shirt. He decided to ask the Nike store in a tweet if any more would come out. In less than an hour he got a response. They not only apologized but sent him a link where he could directly order the shirt! He was so amazed and happy with the customer service that he tweeted about the positive experience.

    The moral? Responding to your customer matters.

    2. Engaging Better

    Once you recognize how important it is to be up-to-date on social media, you’ll be in a position to harness their marketing power. It’s amazing how many businesses haven’t caught on to this. In one survey, 58% of customers who tweeted about a bad experience with a company never got a response! If a customer in your store was complaining loudly about your products or service, and no one came to assist him, you certainly wouldn’t have his business for much longer. Your customers want to be heard, and your job isn’t simply to listen, but to engage.

    When you’re considering how best to respond, keep this slogan in mind: quick and correct. In the digital age, people don’t just want answers. They want answers now. Social media never sleeps, and you should always be responding in real time. But don’t let quantity trump quality! Your answers should have information and links that fully satisfy the customer. Companies have certainly learned not to frustrate the customer further by skimping on information. Of the few surveyed respondents whose Tweeted complaints were answered (33%), 75% were happy with the response. In the customer service world, that second number isn’t so bad! (Maritz Research and Evolve24 Twitter Study) If Nike hadn’t sent my friend the link for the next shirt, they definitely wouldn’t have gotten his business.

    3. Ways to Get it Right

    Use whatever strategy you need in responding to your customers. Some businesses, like Best Buy, have made multiple Twitter accounts for customer service, and have since been providing quicker answers for frustrated customers.

    If you still doubt the impact this can have on your business, consider an experiment by Zappos clothing shop. Zappos decided to put their customer service to the test and leave no tweet behind. The results were staggering. Zappos garnered over 600 positive tweets per month and an overnight reputation for responsive customer service. The market has spoken, and manning the social media is definitely good for business!

    Whatever the size of your business, keeping up with your customers is crucial, and mastering social media is always worth the effort.

    Justin Belmont is the founder of Prose Media (, a custom content writing service for brands, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Offering solutions ranging from blog posts and social media to web copy and white papers, Prose (@prose) employs top professional journalists and copywriters with expertise in a variety of industries.