Prattle & Jaw

Copy, blogs, and bits and bobs

People Talk. You Should Listen

Below is my second article for The Danish Communication Association, this time about social media and customer service. Enjoy!

People are talking. You must be there to listen.

Social media has pushed customer service from being something that used to involve a two-hour phone call at your expense, to something that is an intrinsic part of an organisations marketing and communication. 

As I mentioned in my last article, intangibles have become the new currency. Choice and cost are no longer as pivotal in decision making as they once were, and as a result, organisations must now focus on these intangible methods, such as customer loyalty and reputation, in order to stand out from the crowd.

A good reputation is an extremely valuable asset – maybe even more valuable of tangible or physical assets – yet it is also uncontrollable. Reputations are bestowed on us – on organisations – by society in an intrinsic effort of self-preservation, and are built on and destroyed by consumers’ conversations – conversations that are going on every minute of every hour of every day on social media.

Just a phase?

So when I read Social Semantic’s latest report on social media use in Danish businesses I was flabbergasted to find out that just 9% use social media for service and support. If 40% believe that social media can increase customer loyalty and sales, and if 87% of management believes that social media can be used to create a positive reputation, then what better way to increase loyalty and create a positive reputation than via social media?

Apparently 12% of Danish businesses still see social media as a one-day wonder, and 21% haven’t carried out any kind of social media search for their own organisation as they don’t deem it to be important. Words can not express my incredulity at these figures. In the 1990s, interactive marketing and design agency Razorfish started with the simple premise of everything that can be digital, will be. Today, this has changed to everything that can be social, will be. It’s really very hard to overemphasize this statement. With 2.6 million Danes on Facebook (according to the report), and about 28,000 Danes on Twitter, all of whom are talking about brands and organisations, making and breaking reputations, it’s nigh on impossible to understand the opinions of those 12 and 21 percent.

Fullrate break the mould

Earlier this year, I had an experience with what I considered to be outstanding customer service from a Danish company, Fullrate. My internet connection kept cutting out, and one evening I tweeted, ‘Getting really sick and tired of #Fullrate. Massive complaint email coming soon.’ The next day, I received this email;

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Once over my shock, I answered, and within hours the problem was solved (faulty router, new one on the way). I posted a screen dump of the email on Facebook, where it was picked up by a journalist, and before you can say customer service, Fullrate were being accused of breaching my privacy and being ‘big-brothery’. My Twitter profile is set to public precisely because (amongst other reasons), I hope that brands and organisations will be carrying out searches and will hear me. While others might have been put off by receiving such an unsolicited email, I was positively overwhelmed. My email address can easily be found online, and how different is it to a letter in my letterbox?

BerlingskeB.TKlean, and of course Fullrate were among those which covered the story (with varying levels of sensationalism), and I’m happy to say that Fullrate emerged unscathed – and with a new loyal customer. B.T’s headline of ‘Beware of companies monitoring your moaning on Facebook’ (link is the same as the other BT one so wasn’t sure if I needed it?) might have been intended to worry people, yet for me – and many, many others – it simply confirmed what I had hoped was true in the first place; that companies were monitoring social media.

A Danish mindset?

What worried me the most about the whole episode was that other Danish businesses might have been put off by the initial reaction, the melodramatic shock and disbelief that organisations are using social media as a research tool. There’s always a first, and as is so often the case, the first tends to be received warily. But what about abroad? The internet is positively packed full of cases;Easyjet on Twitter, Air Asia on Facebook, Twelpforce Best Buy on Twitter, and let’s not forget KLM, Lufthansa and Eyjafjallajokull – Google ‘social media and customer service’ and take a look.

Act now

While 93% expect to invest in social media in the next one to two years, I believe that that is far too long. Invest now. It doesn’t have to cost a penny. I know I speak for many when I say that I hope many more Danish businesses will follow Fullrate’s example and use social media as a channel through which they can deliver efficient and effective customer service. It doesn’t have to be a whole dedicated channel – just use the search functions available. Search in Facebook, check pages, groups, and posts by everyone. There might be blog posts, Tweets, or comments that can give feedback.

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You don’t even need a profile to search on Twitter – just use the search box.

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Overskrift.dk allows search in Danish blogs, Twitter feeds, tags, content etc, providing a wealth of information for any organisation.

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Google blog searchSocial MentionAddict-o-matic – there are a lot of free tools available for keeping track of what is being said, and there’s a lot being said. It’s not a breach of privacy. If someone hasn’t set their profile to private, then it’s public knowledge.

In short; if something is found; act. Make contact, no matter if it’s a compliment or complaint. Companies have to monitor social media, just as they monitor traditional media. People want to be heard, they want their voice to be acknowledge, and just sitting back and thinking that this social media lark is just a fad is not going to help you.

P.S. Fullrate actually have an advert in the report; 'Social networks demand good relations. For us, social media are a natural part of our customer service, and are essential for the future to make sure we have the happiest broadband customers.' I can vouch for that.

P.P.S. I do not work for Fullrate.

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.