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Brands, Social Media and Common Sense

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Many of you agreed with the points I made in a previous post about how and why brands need to be able to provide customer service via social media. But there is another CS brands need to employ as part of their social media strategy - and that is Common Sense.

The more I deal with brands via twitter the more surprised and frustrated I am with their often nonsense approach.

Take for example an encounter I had with a large online fashion retailer. They have a huge following and a seemingly proactive approach on twitter, so when I couldn't find the form I was looking for on their site I thought I would tweet them. A disappointingly long time later I got a reply. I would need to contact their dedicated customer services channel. They tagged the correct twitter account in the reply.

In the meantime I had found what I was looking for and was no longer interested in their response. But I waited with interest to see what would happen next. What happened was nothing.

Rather than the dedicated customer service Twitter team taking a simple, proactive approach they did nothing. I was expecting them to press 'view conversation' or visit my timeline and reply to my easy question. They, however, were expecting me to repeat my problem directly to them in a new tweet or Direct Message. But why? When everyone who follows me can clearly see my question, why can't they? Why would they even want me to keep repeating my problem which could be damaging to their brand? Perhaps if the customer service team are short of time the main account that replied to me could have repeated my query in the tweet they passed on? Basically the teams behind the tweets could have done a number of common sense things to help me, but instead I was just left frustrated.

And here is where they missed an opportunity. For with some very simple steps brands can turn querying customers into contented brand ambassadors. Working behind the social media accounts of large travel brands I lost count of the times we were able to turn a customer complaint into a sale. Dealing with a problem or enquiry in a prompt, proactive and sensible manner can make you money and gain you fans. People that had begun frustrated went on to become not only customers but also ambassadors who told all their followers about what a great online experience they had had with us. You can't ask for better PR than that.

Nor should you sit there and wait for people with problems to come to you. Conversations about your brand may be happening online all the time. People could be ranting, praising, enquiring - are you monitoring these key conversations and dealing with them appropriately? As a customer nothing makes me happier than an unhappy tweet I think may never be heard being picked up by a brand and dealt with swiftly. Kudos, therefore, must be given to the Tesco team who picked up on a tweet I sent one day about being bombarded with emails about their latest offers. It wasn't at a level where I wanted to seek them out and complain about it, but it was annoying. So I sent what I thought was an inconsequential tweet into the twittersphere (not to any of their accounts which I did not follow at the time) and got a speedy reply sent back in a tweet.

"Hi Jayne, sorry to hear our emails are annoying you. Would you like us to remove you from the distribution list."

Yes! Yes, I would. 10 out of 10 Tesco.

Problems can be resolved before they even begin. By monitoring key words and conversations you may also be able to spot sales opportunities. If someone is looking to buy something that you sell, get in there before your competitor does. Set up a social media monitoring tool which streams and alerts you of key words and conversations, as well as keeping lists of your key followers/fans.

And that brings me to my final point. I read on a blog somewhere a point in my last post being misinterpreted with regards to dealing with tweets in order of priority. All customers are equal, I would never advocate prioritizing tweets in relation to the number of twitter followers. In my last example I wasn't expecting the airline to deal with me quickly because I had several thousand followers, I was expecting them to reply quickly because I was due to fly the next day. It really is a matter of common sense! When was the tweet sent? How urgent is the enquiry? Perhaps you need to set deadlines for your twitter team within which they must reply to customers.

But of course the influence of the tweeter is a factor to be considered. After all, what did I do when Tesco impressed me? I told my several thousand followers how great they are.

Are proactive brands like Tesco setting the standard for brand interactions on twitter or am I expecting too much? Let me know your thoughts. You can find me on twitter (a lot) at @jayneytravels or via my site jaynegorman.com.