MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Customer Service & Social Media

Posted by mbamommy on April 7, 2010

I’ve been out of the office for about a week and am still digging my way out of emails, which means catching up on my daily trends, recommendations and reviews.  One blog post I came across from eConsultancy struck a cord with me.  It’s an interesting take on how social media can add and/or subtract to your customer service.  Unlike most articles I’ve read recently, this one is saying not to jump all over a complaint but to manage those expectations.

I agree completely.  I do this on a regular basis….I call it “training your client”.  If a client wants to know how long a turnaround will be, I always give myself a day or two buffer.  In my experience, too many things can go wrong or take longer than you expect and as the responsible account manager/customer service rep, you don’t want to be the one delivering bad news.  Instead, you give yourself the opportunity to play the role of hero by managing their expectations and deliver (according to them) early.  An additional benefit is you also manage your internal resources and don’t cause fire drills or late nights.

This lesson goes back to my days of hostessing a restaurant.  I was taught that I had the ability to set the pace of the night and that I should try my hardest not to slam the waitstaff or kitchen (they had sharp knives).  Which, of course, causes bad customer experiences both internally and externally and we all know how against *that* I am.  I always had a go to waiter that could somehow miraculously get me out of a jam by turning a table quickly….and keep diners happy, but for the most part, if I was able to manage waitstaff and kitchen expectations as well as those waiting to eat, we all ended the night much better (and I got better tips!).

But, I (as usual) digress.  In today’s social media world, there’s so many ways for customers to complain (and they should if a company messes up) that a company could make the mistake of being hypersensitive and respond too much (and they should respond in a timely and well-thought out way).  If you respond to a complaint immediately and offer the farm as an apology, you’re only setting yourself up to create an expectation that you’ll give the farm away to anyone who bats an eye.  By managing expectations and treating each situation uniquely, you can make sure the “punishment fits the crime”.

Of course, I’m newly back from vacay, so maybe I’m wrong.  Thoughts?  Should companies jump all over complaints?  Ignore them as just noise?

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