Paolo Fabrizio
May 28, 2015

Bridge the Relationship Gap with Social Customer Service

Communication is not easy by nature and you may think that social networks make things complicated.  As for customer service, it is difficult to be effective when we try to convey our message, since communication is not math and that’s for sure.

Nevertheless it’s not a mission impossible and the good news is that, if you succeed, you’ll have a distinct advantage over your competitors. So let me give you some tips when dealing online with customers.

I speak, you (mis)understand.

Even though if we strive to be clear and hope that our customer-listener is not being distracted, there will always be chances of misunderstanding since every person may interpret our words in a different way. As we are human beings, the road to misunderstanding is just around the corner. 

As Flavio Martins explains in his post ‘the conflicting nature of customer service‘, logic and emotions are the two main governing powers of our minds and the struggle one another. To give you an example, think about the latest conversation you’ve had with your client.

  • How did you feel during that conversation?
  • How do you think your customer felt?
  • How did you feel after that conversation?
  • Is there any word or tone of voice that led the conversation off the rails?

And most of all…

  • Would you use the same words or would you change/avoid some of them?

TIP: set up a self-assessment test for your customer service staff as well as a customer survey then compare both results. In this way you will get useful feedback and be able to identify the gaps between perceptions and frustrations in terms of customer expectations. This will also help you improve overall efficiency.

Get closer to your customers

mind the gap

Image credit –

In recent decades, customer service has moved on from the traditional face-to-face way. Phone, email, then web and social networks have created new opportunities to deal at distance with customers, but have also created new challenges.

In fact, meeting customers/prospects in person is still the most powerful way to take the relationship to the next level but it’s still not enough in the fast-paced-interconnected world we’re living. That’s why in the social customer service era it is imperative to get closer to your customers, since you use social networks to interact with customers.

In order to do so you need to enhance empathy and trust. Do focus in particular on four topics:

  1. Appearance –> show that you are alive and kicking on social networks. As customers cannot see you nor meet you in person, always listen and respond to them promptly.
  2. Tone of voice –> if you want to reduce the distance, avoid formal jargon; don’t speak ‘brandalese‘ nor use any slang. Customers appreciate clear, direct language, especially when on social networks.
  3. Gesture –> in a metaphorical sense, of course. Take care of the words you use:  choose them wisely since you have to be concise (especially on Twitter).
  4. Follow up –> when dealing with any customer, especially if you need more time to fix an issue, make sure that he/she is aware of your effort constantly. If it takes hours, provide an update each hour. After solving it, make sure the he/she is fully satisfied to prevent any any flame.

When dealing online with customers talk to them like having a chat with a friend, but consider that you are being listened by a multitude.

Do’s and don’ts

In social customer service, there are some good behaviors as well as common mistakes that you’d better learn from and they both have implications on your brand reputation and results.

As Facebook and Twitter are the most common platforms to deliver social customer service, here are some good examples for you: a Wins and losts list on Twitter  by Ansaback and a cool infographic 6 Do’s and Don’ts of humour on social customer care by Circussocial.

Your Turn

Make a difference with social customer service and get closer to your customers: use each online conversation to listen, help and assist them.

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Lead image: Origin unknown

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan