The Case for Social Customer Support

Written by on September 21, 2011

Peter Shankman, CEO and founder of Geek Factory, and founder of HARO, was returning to Newark from Tampa after a really long day of travel and business meetings. He had no time to stop for dinner and he knew he would be home only by 9 pm. Hungry, and fantasizing about a steak, he sent off a tweet before his flight took off.

Meant purely as a joke, he tweeted that and then thought nothing of it. 

However, when he landed at Newark, to his absolute astonishment, Peter Shankman was greeted by a tuxedo wearing waiter from Mortons with a 24 oz. porterhouse steak, an order of colossal shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins & silverware.  As you can imagine, Shankman was overjoyed.

Mortons Steakhouse had seen the tweet, authorized the delivery and had the meal delivered to the airport 20 miles away from the restaurant, also figuring out which flight Shankman was on, all in under 3 hours.

This is customer service at its best, and the social world immediately went gaga over it. The story went viral, and Mortons got a level of free publicity and marketing which they wouldn’t have dreamed of. 

Is there a lesson here for businesses?  

Of course there is, the most obvious being that the world is social, and every move they make, good or bad, will be watched, judged and dissected, and it makes sense to have a social media strategy that’s well thought out and takes all this into account.

But there is another lesson here, something that most who read this story will see through. That is, the case for social customer support. 

A company like Mortons, or perhaps Pizza hut or KFC should give you the option of ordering your food via Twitter or Facebook, shouldn’t they?

Shouldn’t service companies like AOL be able to handle customer support direct on twitter instead of asking customers to mail or call to this number or that?

It really adds no value to the organization when the customers contact you through new channels of communication but you redirect them to the old ones. This is a real opportunity for companies, a chance to go where customers are and serve them better.

In the last few years of the Social Media Revolution, as more & more brands jump into the fray, Social Media has been associated with Marketing, and the Marketing team has traditionally been in charge of it.

For brands like Pepsi, Levi’s Strauss, Ford and IMAX, Twitter & Facebook make sense as a marketing presence, as a means of engaging customers and viewers, keeping them involved with events & the like. But for companies like Vodafone, SKY or perhaps Bluedart, which are customer support intensive, does the real value of Social Media lie in Marketing alone?

Most probably not.

What if customer support could be brought to the social arena? What if each and every social media conversation you have could be recorded, addressed and resolved as you would a normal phone call or an email? Wouldn’t that make sense?

Some companies think it makes perfect sense. They have already seen through the fog into this & are breaking new ground in keeping their customers happy with service that’s faster & more interactive. It’s a win-win both ways. Customers are happy that their queries are being heard & resolved on a platform they love, and businesses are happy, because a happy customer, however the world may change, is still good business.

And Freshdesk helps you do just that, aggregate all your customer support queries, requests and complaints, from multiple platforms like email, phone, the web, and of course social media, into one tool, which your Customer Support team can then easily and effectively resolve. Read our whitepaper on improving Customer Service with Twitter.

The case for Social Customer Support is quite strong & almost imperative. Your customers are already talking to you on Social networks, Are you listening?

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  • neteffects

    I think Morton’s really did a great job.  It only goes to show that people and companies are now being more flexible with their customer’s need by participating and using social media to offer their services.