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Why use social media for engaged customer service?


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What’s it all about? All this social media marketing? All this chatter about humanizing and engagement? Why bother using social media for customer service?

I wanted to share an experience I had last week with you.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but as a premise for discussion: How would you feel about this company if you were me? And taking it to the next level, how hard would it be to do this for your own company?

11/9/2011 – Sprout Social excitedly announces it newest platform upgrades, a major overhaul, to its users with this email outlining the latest changes. They are clearly excited and hope I will be too! And they thank me for being a customer, right away before launching into details about the upgrades.

11/9/2011 (12 hours later): Oops. Sprout Social’s new release isn’t going so well, there are some unanticipated glitches. A not so glossy email comes out from the CEO, with his personal email address. Its short, its sweet, its apologetic and earnest and its not the slick promotional email I got the other day. It even includes his actual email (which I’ve removed) and it appears to have been actually written by a human if not actually the CEO. But the email is so likable, I’m inclined to want to believe the CEO wrote it.

 

Another similarly unformatted email follows 4 days later. It includes updates on the specific challenges they’ve been having and reassurance that they are working diligently to make the fixes.  The second email is significantly longer, but Justyn makes a joke about it and says he would apologize a bunch more if the email weren’t already so long.

So for most companies, the crisis is mostly over, situation averted. They had some road bumps, they apologized. It isn’t a federal case, everyone can move on.

 

But they aren’t done. They’re monitoring. On G+ none the less, the least populated social network out there (but with the highest geeks/post ratio). A couple of days earlier, I noticed this person from Sprout Social started following me. I don’tknow if she found me through keyword search or was simply finding the names of their customers. Either way – I thought it was very cool that one of the companies I purchase from wants to follow ME. Instead of asking me to follow THEM.

 

And after I comment on a post by Gwen, their rep pops in for a really human conversation…(even though the marketer in her comes out when she can’t tell me the answer to my question):

 

So, if this was your company:  How would you have reacted? Who would be doing this outreach, if at all? What about using a real email address from the CEO? Would you do it? Interesting question, right? Is your social media person this human? Do you think customer service via social media is a waste of time?

As a customer, how does it make  you feel when you think the business is listening?

Can’t wait to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

PS: Don’t you think its appropriate we’re talking about customer service on Black Friday?! Since I stay out of that particular fray, let me know if you see any cool examples of customer service on Black Friday…I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear what you guys experience!!

4 comments
Justyn
Justyn

Hi Tara,

Wanted to thank you for sharing. As embarrassing as it was for us, we forged a lot of stronger relationships with our customers through the process. One of the most humbling parts of the experience was how unfamiliar we were with handling adversity with our users. We'd never let them down in a big way before - when everything is always rosy, disasters are that much more painful.

Regarding your question on G+ about heading down the CRM path, we are going to continue building tools that provide customers with a single place for customer data and interactions. Though we expect these to be used in tandem with traditional CRM tools, we think having all the relevant information and history for a social contact should be something we provide.

Anyhow, thanks again for taking the time to write about the experience, good and bad. Suprisingly the positive feedback we've gotten about how we handled the event has been much stronger than the negative about the issues themselves.

Justyn Howard

CEO

Sprout Social, Inc.

P.S. those emails were in fact typed by my own two hands :)

TessaAuza
TessaAuza

This is awesome, Tara. I am speechless [for once]. So I'll just say thanks for noticing our efforts!