Social media and customer service - some examples

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Image by JMC Photos via Flickr

Earlier this week we wrote about Thomson Holidays and how a blogger can impact your brand reputation and how with social media, complaints have moved from being a customer service issue to being a branding and corporate reputation one.

Earlier this week I was running a ‘masterclass’ in social media and customer service at the Call Centre Focus & Customer Strategy Conference 2009. The session looked first at the different types of social media that businesses use and the reasons for and benefits of this. The ROI that businesses can get from online customer service communities. And we then moved into some examples from customer service: some good, some bad and one just ugly. The slides below probably lose something without being presented but the case studies are interesting, each for different reasons.

  • Zappos. A ‘Good’ example, Zappos is great at microinteractions. They show how you can grow a customer-service centred organisation and the real value you get from interacting with people in social media. Traditional customer service has been private and one-to-one (typically by phone or letter). With social media you can interact with people in a public place (one-to-one-to-many). These ‘microinteractions’ can have huge impact on word-of-mouth.
  • Virgin Trains. Another ‘Good’ example that shows how you can make effective use of Twitter. Richard Baker is General Manager for Virgin Trains in Wales and North-West England, and he has been showing how individuals in a business can make effective use of Twitter to engage customers. We analysed his activity to show the mix across the seven ways businesses can use Twitter: sending out information on offers, informing people about what’s going on, responding to people and taking action, listening to what people  are saying about Virgin Trains, correcting inaccuracies in things other people are staying, educating people an, finally showing that you are human.
  • Dell is an example of ‘bad turned good’ and has moved from its period of ‘Dell Hell’ to being perhaps one of the best example of businesses having an integrated approach to social media. We discussed in the workshop the case of how Dell make $3 million on Twitter, and how their forums are so well used that peers are solving others’ problems and saving Dell significant amounts of money on support costs.
  • United Airlines. Finally we looked at the ‘ugly’ example of United Airlines and what happened when Dave Carroll had his $3,500 guitar broken on his way to a gig with his band Sons of Maxwell. He started to produce music videos about United Airlines which have each now been viewed by up to six million people.

These are just a small number of examples that businesses can learn from. The main advice from the session was to identify core business objectives at the moment and then experiment with social media in a controlled fashion to see what impact it can have against these.

Social media and customer service - some examples
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