Are we heading towards a new standard in customer relations?

We are heading towards something that might be a new standard in customer relations online. The old fashion way to communicate with companies let’s say if you have a suggestion is to look up the website, find a form to fill in, a number to call or an e-mail address to send your opinion to. Most likely knowing that you will not get any response.

The new standard could be to just tweet: “I would have bought a Canon EOS 40D if they were available in dark red instead of black only”. With Canon instantly replying “@bill_the_photographer Thanks a lot for your suggestion, it is passed on to product development. Phil, Canon.

Twingly response on TwitterJust by including the brand name Canon in the tweet, Canon should be notified of your request and respond instantly. Note that you as a customer should not need to keep track of the company’s user name, because it is much more in the company’s interest to keep track of their brand.

This will also help some part of current customer relation easier due to the limitation in length of the communication. Since the customer only has a limited number of letters to use, he also expects a response in the same short manner. Even though the communication at this level might be brief it will increase the companies’ goodwill and the companies that are not listening to this communication will eventually lack behind.

It is very easy for a company to set up this monitoring. Just go to the Twingly Microblog Search and do a search that is relevant for you, and add the result to your rss (to the right, “Subscribe to RSS”). Then you will get the entries in your regular rss-feed and can respond accordingly. By using the Twingly Microblog Search you can monitor all major microblog platforms.

With the massive number of posts featuring major brands it is of course difficult to keep track and follow up on everything. New services will be vital for larger brands to sort out and manage information. First they need to get posts with their brand sorted our correctly to be as relevant as possible.

Then they need to get them prioritized by monitoring the number of followers the user has, or the number of followers the user’s followers have, to track the user’s influence to also include the importance of potential re-tweets.  There is also a need for major companies to manage the replies to the tweets, so they can keep track internally. Several players in CRM is also keen on including microblog monitoring, like Salesforce that is about to include it in their product Service Cloud.

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In the mean time before all this falls in place for the major companies, we challenge you to start to try this to increase your customer relations. Start monitoring your brand and you are more than welcome to tweet us samples of the responses you have given, and the effect you have achieved.

If you want to see how it works in action first, you are more than welcome to try with us. Just put the word Twingly in your tweet and see how fast we respond. It can be a general question, a question regarding specific search at Twingly.com or that you are just curious to get the average shoe size of the Twingly employees, or wants to know what color our CTO has on his car.

Customer Service 2.0

Customer service is very important, it’s a fact every company knows. But not every company understands how to handle customer service on the internet and in the social media. This creates problems when customers expect you to communicate through these channels.

The Swedish blog The Artopod Experience has written a really good blog post (Google Translate) that summaries four important points of consumer service on the internet. Here’s an inspired list translated to English:

1. E-mail

The standard way to handle customer service on the internet today, is by e-mail. Customers know how to use it, and get pissed off if you’re company doesn’t have e-mail, or doesn’t answer it fast enough. This is just a start and something every serious customer service has to use.

A tip from us at Twingly is to make the communication more personal. Have pictures of those who are answering your e-mail on the company’s website. Send your answers from aname@service.com-email , and not by info@service.com. Don’t use standard phrases with a copy-and-paste-feeling in your answers. Make it personal and those who contact you will be nicer to you. It’s easy to be harsh towards a faceless brand, but not to an fellow human being.

2. Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ

It’s the easiest and most effective way to reduce the number of incoming questions, saving both time and expences for the consumer service. Could be a page on the website with regular text, instruction movies or a giant database of information.

3. Answer questions where your customers ask them

This is something new that, through the quite recent development of social media, has become a necessity. Many of your customers may no longer come to your site or send you an e-mail, they simply ask a question on their microblog, blog, social network or forum instead, and get helped. It’s of course all good and well when the customers are helping each other out, but it’s not the only thing they are doing. Instead of just being a kind question in a forum: “How do I get it work?” it can become really bad PR: “This crap doesn’t work! Don’t buy it!”. It’s in many ways very important to handle this type of customer service yourself, even if it’s difficult to get control over it. But if you as a company don’t listen and act, you can’t influence what is said about you. Be a part of the discussion on the microblogs, blogs, social networks, and so on, and think of it as a way of not just treating your customers well, but also creating PR in a positive manner.

To do this in a proper way, you have to monitor social media every single day. The easiest and probably best way to do it, is to subscribe to search results in blog search engines like Twingly, microblogs search engine like Twitter Search and use Google Reader.

4. Let the customers help to solve the problem together with you

Another simple and really useful tool for customer service 2.0, is Get Satisfaction. Here’s a forum for both customers and official representatives from companies, that works as a customer service community. Customers can ask questions and get help both from official representatives and other customers. Companies can ask what customers really want. Get Satisfaction can also be implemented and used on your own site via an API, which Spotify does very well.

So what is really happening?

The internet has changed what customer service essentially is, in many different ways. One of the key issues is that every little problem could become bad PR. 20 years ago only the neighbors and friends of a disappointed customer learned that “this product doesn’t work so it sucks, don’t buy it”. Today the same message could be on microblogs, forums and blogs and that way hundreds of people might get the information. In real-time. Every single customer can reach a lot of people, and the message will stick, through search results, search traffic and such.

When customers have become real-time influencers, your company’s customer service and communication has to be fast, open and attentive. As a company you can no longer wait for your customers to come to you with their questions – you need to find them, and know where and how they are talking about you.

It’s quite a big revolution.

Twingly-launch today: Blog links part of customer service offer

One could argue there’s a sort of unanimity going on, when it comes to electronic devises and communication strategies. It really doesn’t matter what the reseller is called: all they talk about is low prices. At least that’s the case here in Sweden. And it’s strange, because what you really need when you’re trying to choose between hundreds of TV:s and cellular phones, is some help, guidance and service.

The ONOFF chain here in Sweden has chosen another key message in their latest ad campaign – they talk about service, and nothing about being cheap. Now ONOFF launches Twingly Blogstream as part of their customer service offer and a way of taking the concept of tech market service to the next level. Blogger’s opinions simply help guiding their customers in making better purchases.

So now all you experts with good advices and wonderful blogs can get your word out, directly through the onoff.se. And a lot of confused customers will get needed help, not only from the staff at ONOFF, but also through the blogosphere. All linked together at the same place.

That’s how it should be.

Related link: IT24- Onoff bloggifierar sin webbutik (Google Translate)