How Two Brands Failed At Social Care (And How To Make Sure Your Brand Doesn't)
I've had two companies recently completely fail as social care via social media (and email marketing, if you really want to go there). The first was my local carwash, Mister Car Wash. I did not notice until I got home that my cupholders were not even cleaned out and that salt was still all over the back of my car. Not having time to drive it all the way back to the carwash that night, I emailed them via their website and sent photos of the mess. No response. So, I took to Twitter. Roughly 24 hours later, a very friendly social media manager reached out to me and told me that someone from my local carwash would be in touch with me within 1-2 days. That was weeks ago and still I have heard nothing.** Update: The day after this post was published the general manager of Mister Car Wash contacted me. They apologized for the way my car left their car wash and offered to re-clean it, along with free car washes in the future.
The second social care fail came a bit more as a shock to me. I planned the first spa weekend ever for my mother and me at a local five-start resort called The Osthoff. A competitor of the famed Kohler Waters Spa, I expected it to be nothing less than divine. Everyone in the hotel was professional and incredibly attentive, until my mom went in for her massage. The masseuse was incredibly unprofessional and left my mother feeling uncomfortable and anything but relaxed. I was mortified since I had planned the whole weekend around her finding some space and time to relax. A few hours later, I went to the hotel bar to read a book and drink a martini. The bartender was flustered and kept waiting on people who had gotten to the bar after me, before waiting on me. Once he asked my order, he stressfully opened a RECIPE book to make a three-ingredient martini. I then signed my check and went on to read my book. When I was ready for round two, a second stressful bartender also proceeded to help others who came after me first, and then also had to search for the recipe book to make my three-ingredient martini. Not long after, they tried to charge me again, claiming they had never charged me the first time even though I signed the bill. When they had to rerun the bill, they acted annoyed that they had to do it. It was just an awful, unrelaxing experience all the way around. Our weekend continued with a slew of unprofessional encounters and we ended up spending a great deal of money to not relax at all. I wrote an email to the company, and heard nothing back. I finally took it to Twitter and had a great interaction with a marketing manager who immediately responded. Then I received a call from a reservations agent who was mortified about what happened and said my email must have gotten lost. She ensured me the hotel manager would be calling me promptly. That was over a week ago and I have yet to receive a call. This whole experience has shown me that this resort is not up to the standards that I thought it was.**Update: Two days after this was published, the general manager of The Osthoff Resort called me and said that she had reached out to me previously and left voicemails on my cell. I have no voicemails, but understand that technology can fail. She assured me that appropriate measures were taken within the resort to fix the areas of poor service, and offered to send a gift certificate for a massage for my mother.
The mistake that seems to have been made with both of these brands is that the social media managers know what they are doing and are carefully monitoring, but once they find an issue to address, they have no power nor authority to address the problem. This leaves consumers with a positive social experience quickly followed by disappointment that their issue remains unresolved. Social care is becoming more and more critical for brands as more and more consumers expect brands to resolve their issues via social media networks.
It is not enough to put an employee on social media monitoring duty and then leave them powerless when issues arise. They need direct access to those in the company that can solve the issues, so then the full social care circle is complete. While receiving a prompt tweet response back is nice, it means nothing when the issue is ultimately ignored by upper management.
Here are some ways to start implementing a full social care circle in your brand:
Appoint One Customer Service Agent To Social Media
This has been the case with a couple of brands I've worked with and it works incredibly well. Instead of having multiple customer service agents available, who may or may not see the issue, assign one customer service agent to be in charge of all social media inquiries that come through. This allows the social media manager to hand off the issue to an employee who is more trained at dealing with customers and who already knows the correct team to route the issue to.
Hire And Train A Social Care Specialist
This position is becoming a staple on social media teams for larger brands. A social care specialist has skills beyond a community manager. They are highly trained in all things customer service AND social media which allows them to not only monitor for issues, but promptly respond to them as well. Not only does this take weight off of a brand's social media team, but it also ensures that the customer service process is overseen by one individual beginning to end.
Map Out A Response Strategy
A response strategy for dealing with issues on social media is essential for all brands. Create a Google doc and document each and every issue that comes through on social media. Then keep track of who that issue is routed to, how they responded and whether it was resolved or not. Then use this document to create a one-pager that outlines where certain types of issues should be routed, and how a social media manager can proactively respond before the person it was routed to resolves the issue.
Set Hours On Your Social Media Networks
This helps set expectations for your consumers. it is also useful for smaller brands that do not have the budget to have employees on at all hours. By providing the times your business is open on social, consumers will become less aggravated when they do not hear back and will most likely understand that they will not receive an answer until you open again the next day.
Following up to issues on social media is critical not only to close the loop, but also to keep track to ensure the issue was actually resolved. Make a point of keeping track of each issue that comes in and following-up a week later with that individual to make sure that they are happy with how their issue was resolved. This will lessen the amount of consumer issues that go unresolved on social media due to failure to pay attention or route to the correct person.
Companies can no longer survive by ignoring customer service on social media. If brands do not have the budget to hire social care specialists, than they need to empower their social media managers to route issues to the correct people and/or resolve the issues. It does not matter how quickly someone responds on social, if there is no resolution to the issue.
What are your tips for managing customer service on social media? Leave them in the comments below!
- Marji J. Sherman
Update as of 3/20/18: After Mister Car Wash's social media manager printed off this blog post and shared it with their team, the general manager has reached out to me to apologize and resolve the issue.