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Customer Service in the Age of Social Media

[1]I had an awful customer service experience recently and while I won’t name the company, it certainly soured me on ever using their products again. It’s hard to believe that in the age of social media when reviews – good and bad – can be posted in seconds, some companies still haven’t invested in customer service.

I’m not the only one. Mark Evans points out how social media can affect a company. (Reposted from the Marketwire Small Business Blog [2]).


Thanks to social media sites like Twitter, nothing is secret anymore. Particularly a company’s triumphs and errors in customer service.

Numerous consumer incidents have turned viral on social media. Most notably the 2009 incident in which United Airlines lost the guitar of Halifax based musician Dave Carroll [3], who turned it into the video and song “United Breaks Guitars.” Read more about that famous story here [4].

But you don’t need to make a big fuss, or even be recounting a huge incident on social media for a story to hit around the world.

Recently, a boy in the U.K. wrote to Lego about a lost action figure. The kind and clever reply from the company, posted online by the boy’s father, has now gone viral [5] .

It’s proof that good experiences with business can generate attention, not just the horror stories.

So, what does it all mean?

Everyone is watching and everyone is talking. While in the past, customer service moments were shared with neighbours and family, social media now lets your clients tell their stories far and wide.

You never know what will be big. From a returned rotten cantaloupe to a bad in-store conversation, it is difficult to tell what will get noticed by your clients, and which clients have a wide social media network in which to talk.

Stories count. Creative customer service solutions — the ones where real effort took place — are the stories clients tell their friends and beyond. I’m always sharing the story of the Disney World staffer who stopped asking me survey questions to grab a pile of napkins to save my son’s ice cream cone disaster.

It’s almost always worth it. Spending a few dollars to make your customers happy is never lost money. Either directly or indirectly, that money will come back to you. I also openly share the story of the cottage owners who waited for me to send them money before they would ship my son’s favourite blanket back when we had forgotten it. We’ll never rent a cottage there again.


Has social media helped when you’ve experienced good or bad customer service? Share in the comments!

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