Social Media: Rebranding Customer Service – By Nathan Smith

by Alana Jones on March 30, 2010

Your business can live or die based on the quality of your customer service. But what exactly is customer service?

 The definition has evolved through the years, but one aspect remains constant: caring about your clients in a meaningful way on a personal level. Once upon a time, milk was delivered to your door, doctors made house calls, and your grocer knew you and your family by name.

 Over the years, customer service moved away from the old-fashioned “take time to care” customer service model.  It was replaced with catch phrases, upselling techniques, and pushy sales people looking to maximize their commissions. Old-fashioned customer service seemed to be a thing of the past… until now.

 Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have enabled even coerced, businesses to once again engage their customers personally. I say coerced because with email and phone interaction, an organization could hide from the masses.

 Today, online communities give consumers a venue in which to relay their thoughts about a particular organization or product to their friends, family, and others who consider that person worth listening to.

 Recently, I was less than thrilled with a coffee product I purchased at a local McDonald’s. After tweeting my feelings, I noticed that I was being followed by @McCafeYourDay, a Twitter profile managed by Jessica Thompson, US communications manager for McDonald’s Corporation. 

 I told her about my experience via a direct message, and she ensured that the proper department addressed my concerns. I was truly impressed by her attention, and it prompted me to further explore her Twitter usage.

 What I found was that McDonald’s is getting it right with @McCafeYourDay: connecting with customers, listening to their concerns, engaging in the conversation, and offering exclusive value via Twitter contests.

 Although they have branded their account under McDonald’s and McCafe, there is a picture of Ms. Thompson and her name is clearly displayed, making it easier for followers to identify with a personality rather than just a generically branded profile.

 These social platforms are the new word of mouth and are powerful because you can share your experience with everyone in your sphere of influence instantly and simultaneously, whether they live in New York or New Delhi.

 Your thoughts are also archived and displayed in search engine results, widening the potential audience all the more.

 One attribute of social media is whether your business is a Fortune 500 corporation, or a sole proprietorship, you can compete on a level playing field. Businesses who choose to engage those talking about their product or company can reap huge rewards.

 Conversely, brands that neglect or misuse social media and do not listen and respond to customer reactions will be left behind.

 Be proactive, show that you care, and your business will win!

Nathan is the founder of Zynali Inc, and manages several Web sites including a coffee video blog,

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