Delivering Effective Social Customer Service to Ensure Your Brand Reputation

For this week’s Guest Blog, we are delighted to introduce Carolyn Blunt. Carolyn is the Managing Director of Real Results Training and co-author of ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’,   How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation’ is published by Wiley and available now on Amazon.  

Delivering Social Customer Service from Carolyn Blunt and Martin Hill-Wilson

For those of you who do not know me, I am passionate about Customer Service and especially the delivery of effective social customer service.  My organisation, Real Results Training, works with many organisations to help them deliver outstanding customer service and in the past few years the rise of social customer service has created exciting (and scary!) opportunities to take customer service into the 21st Century.   There is so much for an organisation to consider when planning and managing the customer experience and getting it right is critical for your corporate reputation.

In the following blog I wanted to raise a few debate points and highlight some examples of social service and where individual’s (Hasan Syed & Dave Carroll’s) actions impacted on a corporate brand and reputation (BA & United Airlines).

Social Customer Service & Social Customer Care

I have to say hats off to Hasan Syed; For having the impetus to be quick to use social media to further his lost luggage cause, but the real interesting twist was having the resources to further promote the message.  For $1000 Hasan Syed promoted a tweet slamming BA’s customer service after they lost his father’s luggage and their slow response (over 7 hours) did not satisfy Syed.  His tweet was seen by more than 77,000 people.

Unfortunately BA’s twitter account is not manned around the clock and a further delay ensued.  This opens up the first debate point:

Social Customer Service 247 Service Brand protection

  • Customer expectation is ever increasing as to the speed of response they demand when interacting with brands via social.  Keep them waiting longer than 20 minutes for at least an acknowledgement and their frustration will rise.   Whilst it still feels acceptable for retailers and smaller brands to tweet out the close of their support in the evenings (and in a lot of cases later than the 5pm cut off of BA) and the re-opening of their manned desks in the mornings, there is perhaps an argument for a big name like BA– who operate 24/7- to consider having a social customer service presence to match.

There are earlier instances of using Twitter to gain speedier responses; both United Airlines and Virgin have fallen victim when complaints, in the form of tweets, or video went viral before it could be resolved.  In my forthcoming book ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Carroll who wiped $180m off the share price of United Airlines, with his ‘United Breaks Guitars’ music video trilogy on You Tube.  He was only trying to recover $1200 dollars to cover the repair of his guitar after it was damaged by baggage handlers.

Brands often fail to identify an influencer effectively, which raises the second point of debate:

Social Customer Service & Social Customer Care - Know your social influencers Klout

  • Should brands be monitoring their influencers, VIPS and those with high klout, kred and other scores?  I think so.  If Stephen Fry tweets his dissatisfaction with your customer service most brands would pay attention (providing their service desk is manned at the time!) but the more ‘anonymous influencers’ are harder to spot. Their reach (popularity), resonance (frequency) and relevance (authority) all matter.

Training your social customer service agents to check out the customers follower numbers, how recently they tweeted, their interactions with their followers and the content they share is a savvy minute spent.   However in the case of Hasan Syed this still might not have told them much. Syed may have only tweeted a few hundred times previously, but he had the unseen cash and motivation.  Nothing can really measure and flag this accurately to social agents, and so it levels the playing field on social even further and challenges dangerous assumptions about ‘anonymous’ customers.Brands will never know who has cash at their disposal to escalate a tweet, certainly it is not always possible for everyone to do – but if you are angry enough and you have suffered a significant loss you may well now start to consider it.

Personally, I love this story, it’s yet another example of social media putting the control back into the customers’ hands.  Like Dave Carroll and others, Syed has demanded a level of customer service that we all should be able to expect when paying for services.  The days of thinking you own your own brand and set your own service levels are over.  Your customers now do. It is time to sharpen your game to ensure you can deliver effective social customer service.

What do you think? Do you agree with Carolyn, or have any thoughts on the two points Carolyn has raised?  We would welcome your thoughts and comments on Social Customer Service and Brand Reputation, please do post them here.


About Douglas Jackson Executive Search and Recruitment Consultants

Douglas Jackson are an Executive Search and Independent Recruitment Consultancy offering professional executive recruitment and managerial appointments on a permanent and fixed term contract basis. We work with customer and experience focussed organisations, who want to develop, or, improve their operation, sales, strategy, service, experience, or success. We recruit for Chief Customer Officer, Director, Head of Department, Manager and skilled strategists for; Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Contact, Resource Planning, Operations, Strategy, Insight, Analytics, Sales, Success, CRM, Data, Programmes, Transformation, Continuous Improvement, and Contact Centre. We work in partnership with our customers across the UK and internationally, many of whom are FTSE 100, blue-chip brands but also challenger, fintech and start-up organisations, to design, develop, deliver and manage your Customer strategy. Revolutionise your Recruitment and Retention of New Hires. Douglas Jackson Search takes the guesswork out of your hiring. Sourcing Exceptional Talent….Define your Customer Strategy. Lead your Operations. Design your Customer Experience. Direct your Digital and Customer Contact. Transform your functions. Develop your Customer Insight. Manage your Data/CRM, Deliver your Sales and Customer Success. Differentiate your business and brand.
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4 Responses to Delivering Effective Social Customer Service to Ensure Your Brand Reputation

  1. Sam Lee says:

    I agree with you completely and posted as such when Hasan presented at a IQPC conference yesterday. It is still amazes me that organisations – especially those the size of BA have not sorted this out. I have experience of working with organisations who used to fear the words ” social media” when in actual fact it is a great way to improve customer service and deal with issues to show the customer they care. It can work, wish more would bite the bullet.


    • Hi Sam, many thanks for your comments and it is great that you too have recently seen Hasan and his recent presentation. In the course of our work, we see many organisations yet to engage with social media to its full extent. I think it is still a scary prospect for some and some convincing is still required on the possible benefits as opposed to pitfalls.
      I think Carolyn has tried to respond here but has not been able to post a comment directly to you so if you did want to reach out directly to Carolyn and need our help to do so, then please let us know and we can get you talking as it sounds like you have some common thoughts.
      Thanks again for your post and glad you enjoyed the article. Michelle


  2. karen wenborn says:

    Good piece Carolyn, look forward to the book.
    Regarding your points.

    “Should brands be monitoring their influencers, VIPS and those with high Klout, Kred and other scores?” – I’d go for proactive interaction with these.

    And, have a Single Customer View CRM system that links social media accounts as well as account history – for all customers.


    • Comment posted on behalf of Carolyn:

      ‘Thanks Karen.

      Yes I agree, proactive interaction is key, the brand needs to be able to spot them though or be resourced enough to read and interact with everything (regardless of their influencing potential!) in a “reasonable” timeframe.
      The book is released on Friday but is already on Amazon. I hope you enjoy it. I will also be signing copies at Call Centre Expo.’



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