How to create good online customer service

Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising. Even with all the latest technologies, nothing trumps a personal recommendation or complaint. Thanks to new technologies it is much easier nowadays to share your experiences to more people, much faster. Which is great when it is a compliment, but not so great when they are complaints.

Here is an example: A few months back I went to get diner at my local Arby’s restaurant. When I came home and realized the chicken was overcooked and the apples for my kids were expired, I went to Twitter to express my frustrations.

Within less than an hour I received a Tweet back from the Arby’s Twitter page, addressing the issue. With quick and prompt response they were able to switch a bad experience into a positive one. Within one week I received a gift card from Arbys with a personalized letter to me, apologizing for the situation and explaining that customer service is their highest priority. I was so impressed, that I returned the next week and I also Tweeted how happy I was with their service. By being active on the social media channels, Arby’s was able to keep a customer and they were able to promote how well they take care of their customers.

twitter arbys social listening


Another example, which did not get a response, was the attempted Twitter interaction I had with Fitnessbuddy, a fitness app on the Apple App store. This program was recommended by one of my social media connections and I decided to give it a try. They where running a special on their website, but did not adjust the price on the app store.  When I tweeted out the price directly to the company, I did not get a response. I did not end up buying the app.

You would not ignore a customer complaint when they walk into the store, would you? You will do everything in your power to please the unhappy customer and make sure he/she leaves satisfied to not only keep them as a customer but to also reduce any type of negative word of mouth. For social media you have to treat these interactions with the same urgency. If it is online and nobody responds it will become the truth, regardless if it is or not. As more people continue to interact on social media, it will become more and more important for companies regardless of their size to respond to the messages as soon as possible.

So how do you keep track of all of this? The social media channels require your daily attention. It is your communication tool with the world. Relate this to the rest of your business interactions. You wouldn’t ignore the phone ringing or a customer that is in your store. The businesses that take a proactive approach on social listening will also be able to capture new leads and find new opportunities to take business away from their competitors. If there was a competing fitness app that would have picked up my Tweet and responded with a similar offer, I would have been more inclined to go with their service. However, nobody did…

There are many tools out there that will help you listen to certain key terms, so that you can capture these opportunities to interact. You can also use Twitter’s advanced search tool, where you can look for keywords within a geographical area. Another way to stay on top what people are saying about your business or your products is to setup Google alerts. With this you will receive notifications whenever any article or webpage talks about your selected key words. With smart management of your customers online interaction you can change many negative feedback into positive interactions that not only keeps the customer happy, but is also a great promotion to your level of service.


2 thoughts on “How to create good online customer service

  1. Very good post. One thing I realize is when a customer leaves a review, whether good or bad, they want a response back. By Arby’s responding immediately to the complaint, not only does it help erase the negative memory, it might also boost your reputation of the company past where it was before the complaint.

    Your post does bring up a question for me however, & I wonder your input on it. With Social Media being so important nowadays, do you believe a business not responding to a customer tweet (or other posts) is equivalent to a in-store employee ignoring a customer. I actually had never thought of this & wonder what your take on it is. It seems with us putting so much of our content on so many different platforms, we have to also remember to monitor them all constantly as to not miss these kinds of communications.

    Anyway, great posts. Thanks for highlighting this information & sharing it with us.

    1. Great question. As more and more consumers are connected to the social media channels and more consumers express their opinion (good and bad), business owners and marketing departments need to be on top of these communication tools, especially inbound communication. If they leave a comment unanswered, regardless if it is true or not, the rest of the online community will see this and make their own judgement. If you have a customer in the store that is upset you want to keep them quiet and happy so the customer experience of other shoppers is not affected and that they do not tell their friends. Social media has amplified word of mouth into word of web. Is a tweet the same as someone complaining in a store, not yet… but as we move more into online communications it will eventually become more important that you manage these.

      Arby’s did a great job and can promote how they handled their social media customer service. Personal recommendation aka word of mouth is the best marketing you can buy, and a bad experience doesn’t have detrimental to a business if managed properly.

      Thanks again for your feedback.

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