How Brands Improve Customer Service By Embracing Social Media
The UK isn’t exactly known for its sparkling customer service, you’re more than likely to be greeted by a surly teenager taking your meal order or an underpaid, overworked twenty-something when ordering your daily coffee.
However, thanks to a wave of trendy, social-media driven engagement, the face of customer service is changing to increasingly virtual, giving brands the power to engage with customers without interacting face-to-face.
Using a combination of funny memes and light hearted banter, brands can trigger viral stories by engaging with customers on a humorous level they can relate to, all while ensuring complaints are met instantly but also forgotten about.
Potentially damaging stories turned into positive press include when Twitter saved a man on Virgin Trains who ran out of loo roll and the very British 2-hour Twitter rap battle between Pret A Manger and a disgruntled customer, who had complained about a substandard crayfish wrap.
Ingenious PR stunts, or genuine company policy? Either way, both brands took a potentially negative situation and turned it on its head, playing on our love of novelty and embracing the fun side of the internet to resonate with the social media savvy consumer.
Who knows whether or not these instances led to more people buying Virgin train tickets or Pret sandwiches, but it’s hard to deny the positives that come with taking a light-hearted approach to customer service, both in terms of enhancing brand image and generating positive press that is lapped up by the media and their readers.
Gone are the days of calling a customer service hotline that leaves you hanging, with instant access to brands via social media, companies now have a duty to deal with queries instantaneously and can no longer hide behind elusive call centres with long queue times to handle complaints.
Pret and Virgin should certainly be applauded for the way they interact with customers online, but mainly, hats off to the unseen PRs who spotted the potential of the Twitter toilet roll story and the rap battle and turned them into viral positive press. From one PR to another, we salute you.
By Jo Kendall