Customer service can have a different meaning depending on the person. Is it one of those random skills employers are looking for? Does it conjure an image of that small desk where you end up wandering around the store for 20 minutes just to return a shirt? To most, though, customer service is the way to file complaints with businesses about a product or service.
Before the Internet, customers actually had to (dare I say it) file their complaints in person. But the birth of the Internet (or, more specifically, Twitter and Facebook) has given people a new way of filing their complaints (or compliments). Almost every business or company has some form of social media account that is mostly used to promote its products. But customers with their own accounts can use that to their advantage.
Simply tweeting or messaging a company about an experience will usually warrant a response. Sometimes companies will merely apologize for the inconvenience. Sometimes they’ll offer something free of charge in order to mend the situation. Sometimes they won’t acknowledge you at all.
Regardless of the outcome, people are picking up their smartphones and quickly notifying businesses via Twitter or Facebook if they’ve had an awesome or horrific experience with a product/service.
Elizabeth Draus, senior, Ad/PR major, 22:
“I was flying back to New York, where I was studying for the semester, and my flight got cancelled when it shouldn’t have been. Basically, there was a miscommunication between Travelocity (the company I booked the flight through) and Spirit Airlines. I ended up sleeping in the airport and I was just having such a bad experience that I decided to angrily tweet at Spirit Airlines. It was the only time I angrily tweeted at a company because afterwards I realized that [tweeting at them] was pointless and a waste of energy. They never got back to me anyways.”
Emily Zurales, sophomore, biology major, 20:
“I posted [on Twitter] a picture of a bowl of only the Lucky Charms marshmallows and titled it ‘in a perfect world.’ I put a caption with it asking about their thoughts of doing something of the sort (as in only selling Lucky Charms marshmallows without the cereal). They replied to me, which was actually kind of surprising and exciting. I had the unrealistic dream that they might go on and send me some of just the marshmallows. It was cool to get a tweet back or whatever kids call it these days.”
Elenei Kametas, general manager of WLUW:
“I had just moved and couldn’t get my AT&T wifi Internet service working, so I tweeted at @ATTcares. They tweeted back to me and eventually it got fixed after sending about three different people to the house. It was more challenging than it needed to be to get this fixed, but at least they responded. It shows the positive effects social media has with customer service.
I also tweeted at AquaphorUS: “AquaphorUS is my hero right now #hatecoldweather” — Aquaphor is like chapstick or skin protective for dry skin or new tattoos. I thought it was so cool that they tweeted back at me because this was the only thing that helped my chapped lips in the winter. I’m most proud of [this] one.”
“I once Facebook messaged the band Streetlight Manifesto asking if they could play a specific song at a concert. They responded that they couldn’t promise anything, but they did end up playing the song at the concert. It made my day!”
Janae Doyle, senior, finance major, 22:
“My parents own a small business called RDP Builders. It’s a construction and interior design company that specializes in home remodeling. I manage the Facebook page by answering messages and creating posts for them. I’ve had mostly positive experiences so far. People sometimes comment on pictures and leave positive comments. One time a customer couldn’t get a hold of my parents and messaged their Facebook asking them to return their call. I told my parents and they handled it. I’d say for their business, having a Facebook page is kind of useless, but people do like to see the ‘before and after’ shots.”
Jennifer Martin, director of public programming for Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts:
“I never think to tweet negative things [at businesses], only positive things. Because even if you said something negative, that still comes up on people’s newsfeeds. Last night I went to Taverna 750 and they were having a deal of cocktails at half price. I commented on their wall and took a picture of my drink saying ‘this is fantastic’ — they ‘liked’ the status.”
Christian Hansen, junior, finance and sports management major, 20:
“My friend and I tried to tweet at a ton of businesses on our behalf to get them to sponsor our annual road trip. We got really close with getting White Castle to sponsor, but they only said they would send us some free merchandise. We exchanged emails and now we are waiting for our free stuff to come. This didn’t happen too long ago so I still have hope that they’ll come through.”
TIPS ON GETTING CUSTOMER SERVICE RESPONSES ON TWITTER
1. Think before you type. This is primarily for when you want to complain to a company. Be careful to think whether your customer service complaint is: A) valid and B) worth posting about.
2. Try going positive. If you really want to get a response (or a retweet), sometimes the best way to do it is giving a compliment. Most companies are used to getting complaints, so the occasional positive insight about a product is more likely to get noticed.
3. Don’t get your hopes up. There are plenty of stories out there about people getting free things or some sort of compensation for a wronging after tweeting about it. However, most people are lucky to get a retweet, so be aware that you likely won’t get any material goods.
4. Be persistent. Even though you shouldn’t expect too much, you should also not be too willing to give up. If you have a valid complaint, don’t let it go overlooked.
5. Be specific. Make sure your tweet can be understood. Anything too vague isn’t helpful — for getting a compliment retweeted or getting a question answered.
6. Make sure you’re tweeting to the right handle. Ninety-nine percent of brands are on Twitter, according to a study by Simply Measured. But 30 percent of those brands have a separate handle dedicated to customer service such as @ATTCares and @NikeSupport. Make sure you look into which one you should tweet or your feedback may never be noticed.