When Social Media Collides With Plumbers’ Customer Service

From Media Vine Marketing

There are still so many companies that allowed the social media revolution to pass them by. I am having regular conversations with a variety of business owners from solo lawyers and insurance brokers to start-ups, mid-sized companies and larger corporations.

For all intents and purposes, we are in the post social media era. Social media marketing is now part of the larger marketing mix, and it’s here to stay.  What that means is that companies must engage all customer-facing services and orient employees to what social media is all about. I’m talking about impression here; what first impression is your company sending to prospects who engage your company verbally?

  • How is your company projecting its brand via good old website marketing, search engine marketing and social media marketing?
  • Does your company website have good navigation and information about the products you’re offering for sale?
  • Is your site optimized so search engines can crawl your information and inform potential customers about your products?
  • Do you have the necessary social media icons on your site so people can connect with you on social media channels (or the interwebz, as they’re now known)?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes? Awesome.

Here’s the kicker…think about your frontline customer service team and those who answer phones. Are you extremely satisfied with your representatives tasked with selling to social media savvy consumers? If you’re still confused about what I’m getting at, let me tell you a story about what happens when customer service collides with, in this case, plumbers’ customer service.

My hot water heater is 10-years-old, and rather than wait for an emergency, I decided to be smart and buy one before a crisis. Knowing nothing, I began web research for local plumbers from which I could buy and install.

I learned a little and selected a plumbing company that had a decent website with Facebook icons, testimonials and simple navigation. Armed with my information gleaned from a Google search on “how to buy a hot water heater,” I dialed.

To my chagrin, the man who answered the phone was chewing cud, he had a sleepy drawl that was anything but professional. He said, “huh? huh?” every time I spoke. After repeating myself a number of times, I asked my final question, “Do you carry XX brand of water heater because your website says you do?” And, the coup de grace…”nope, but we can order it.”

I went to Lowe’s.

This is the absolute missing link. Companies are doing a great job impressing upon consumers that they are social media savvy. What’s wrong? The disconnect arises when consumers engage with companies and the customer service teams fail to live up to basic marketing standards. When the website and social media channels indicate a company is savvy, there is an expectation that customer service should meet or exceed that standard.

Here are a few pointers to consider if your company is falling into a collision trap:

  • Encourage (read require) all employees to read, learn, and recall the company’s website when a customer is on the phone.
  •  Messaging is critical for anyone on the frontlines, and this platform needs to be shared with those in social media as well as in customer service.
  •  Train company employees, especially those responsible for customer service, to be knowledgeable about social media and what happens. Teach them how new leads come in!
  •  Get back to the basics with phone etiquette and customer service. That plumbing company lost my business forever (the man on the phone told me $1000 to buy and install a hot water heater; that price wasn’t even close to what I paid.)
  •  Consumers now have an expectation; they want high-end customer service to MATCH the impression a company gives on its website, SEO and social media channels. When that fails, prepare your customer service teams to know more than a customer about your company’s products.

I know there are many companies doing this well; got any stories to share?