Digital Customer Service – 5 brands getting it right

This post is by Sallie Bale, who is in the process of setting up her own account, but was desperate to just get blogging!

Spurred on by a recent article, ‘Why social customer service will come of age in 2012′, below is my work-in-progress Top 5 social media customer service channels. As that Econsultancy article points out, social media and customer service should be a match made in heaven. But so often due to a lack of knowledge, money or attention, some brands can get it pretty wrongg as we have seen over and over again.

As with many new issues, organisations often have a tough time understanding how digital customer service will work with their current offerings or processes. Mashable reports that many organisations are battling the same issues, which they distilled down to: Integration, Scaling and Crisis management.

I expect that many brands think they’re “opting out” of using social media channels in this way, but in some cases this simply is not an option; the customer is likely to use it any way. Referring to a study on WARC, Lawrence Fenley, MD, Sitel, said: ” With easy access to real-time information, a new generation of ‘always-on’ consumers is more empowered and demanding than ever.”

These sentiments are echoed by Mark Hillary in his insightful thought piece in the HuffPo. He asserts that the way corporate customer service is run hasn’t fundamentally changed in a very, very long time. He points out that the crucial difference between traditional customer service and social is that it is so easily amplified within the target market. To sum up, he argues:

“Consumers will complain using their own channels whatever you as a company ask them to do, so social media for customer service can no longer be ignored. It’s no longer a cool, trend-setting, inclusive, and awesome area to explore. If you are not answering your consumers within the social web then they will just assume that you are ignoring them.”

And so, with that in mind, here is my Top 5 list of great customer services channels:

1. First Direct

Witty, unafraid and funny. First Direct’s Twitter team are friendly, well trained, informative and engaging. But they also use humour to diffuse tension:

@uwitness: Dear First Direct – one quick way to put me off you as a bank is to send me an offer related to Jamie Oliver. Just saying.

@first_direct: @uwitness Sorry – are you more of a Nigella fan?

2. Marks & Spencer

It’s helpful, engaging and informative. It’s a human voice of the brand. It’s apologetic when necessary, and isn’t scared to use the word “sorry”. And, if you’re really nice to them, they will go off and find that thing that you saw in an advert last year and find out which stores stock it. Well done M&S.

3. Dell

It’s an oldie, but it’s a goodie. The Dell approach is to have over 30 different Twitter accounts, each for a different market/segment/purpose, and they pull it off quite well. Definitely not a strategy for the faint hearted or those with short purse-strings though.

4. Xbox Support

Xbox Support has won awards for their online support services. From what I’ve seen they’ve thrown a huge amount of money behind it to ensure they pick up everything possible. Good work, if you have the budget.

5. Bank of America

Striking a second blow for the financial services industry on this list, BofA do everything right; they reach out to people having problems and direct customers to the right place. This should be the standard; most companies should be aiming for this.

Clearly, there is more to social media than Twitter, but as of yet (and this is a WIP) I’m still searching for other good examples.

I hope that this list expands dramatically through 2012 as organisations wake up to social media as a customer service channel and how to integrate, scale and use it in times of crisis.

Add a comment