The Role of Social Media Customer Service in Crisis Management

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    Good customer service can prevent an incredible number of crises

    Having trouble getting some much-needed assistance with a product or service is a struggle familiar to just about everyone. Automated phone systems seem designed to trap callers in an infinite loop, and in-store staff are often as clueless as your average shopper when it comes to details or policy. Thankfully, social media rose as a shining beacon of hope for those desperately seeking customer service! Suddenly, one person, when well versed in communication and company practices, is able to directly answer questions and concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders at once, all without anyone spending a single second sitting on hold listening to coma-inducing Muzak. Even better, you can make sure that the most pleasant of your exchanges are very much public, a living banner advertisement for how awesome your organization really is.

    So problem solved! I mean, everybody is making use of Twitter and Facebook to provide great customer service now that it’s so easy, right? Well…no. In fact, we would bet that the organizations a good number of you work for, or even own, aren’t doing any type of social media customer service at all. The idea is certainly growing in popularity, but there’s some sort of disconnect between the idea of heading trouble off at the pass and the actual implementation of that concept that stops many from ever moving forward.

    Prevention is the best form of crisis management

    One of our favorite sayings at Bernstein Crisis Management is, “prevention is the best form of crisis management.” Countless complaints go unanswered every day, complaints that then wind up permanently posted to sites like Yelp, fed to hungry consumer reports investigators, or simply passed among friends and colleagues as a warning. A bit of automated social media monitoring and some quick customer service could resolve an incredible number of individual problems, before they expand to taint the impressions of others. At the same time, constant monitoring assures that you will be aware of any rise in negative sentiment about your brand, and be in position to research what is driving said sentiment, invaluable information when you’re doing preventative crisis management.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]