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Egos aside: True social media customer service

Social media can be humbling, both as a novice who is just messing around and as a social media manager.  A lot of times, the temptation exists to assert ourselves and publicly shun those who question us, but as a social media manager, this isn’t the best avenue of attack.  All too often our egos want to sit in the driver’s seat and simply throw out orders, as we expect them to be followed.  However, this isn’t the way a customer service relationship works best, and social media management is, at the end of the day, a customer service profession.

Good customer service is a give and take.  Sure, there are parts of it that are awful; we have to listen to complaints, our authority on a subject is questioned, and all too often, we take the brunt of abuse if the customer has a bad day.  There is also a plethora of wonderful facets about a customer service based relationship; when we’re successful, they’re successful, we celebrate the victories too, and when we do a good job, we’re often lavished with praise and gratitude.  Unfortunately, in a customer service relationship, the bad often overshadows the good and we’re left with a sour feeling about the end results.

Here’s the thing, we need to put our egos aside.  What worked for our last client in virtually the same field, selling the same product, and with the same demographic may not work for this client.  We have to listen to what the client is looking for in terms of their social media management, and provide the best customer service we possibly can.  This means, ego is going to have no place in the relationship.  More often than not, we’re going to have to find a way to achieve a balance with our clients and here’s how to do that.

  • Suggest, Don’t Order – When we’re setting up a social media account for a client, we tend to go into the situation guns blazing and we have a tendency to start rattling off orders. This doesn’t work for every client.  There are clients who will approach you that don’t have a clue about social media, there will be clients that think they know a lot, and there are clients that actually know what works for them.  In each of these independent situations, we have to fight to keep a delicate balance.  For this reason, suggestions are going to work better than just issuing blanket orders and expecting them to be followed.  For the newbie, an order may work and they’ll just nod and hand us the reins.  However, for the self-proclaimed social media maven, an order isn’t the way to go.  To play it safe and keep things copacetic, make suggestions and play hardball with the ones in which you really believe.
  • Don’t Get Angry – I’ve said before that social media is a field in which we can’t take things too personally. Not everyone is going to like the same things we like.  Sometimes a picture isn’t going to be what the client is looking for.  Rather than getting angry and potentially damaging the delicate social media/customer service relationship you’ve cultivated, check your ego and don’t get angry.  If you know for a fact that what they want isn’t going to work, be passionate without being smug.  However, if your jumping off point was just an idea, and they’d like to go a different direction, try to compromise.  Whatever you do, don’t let your ego make you angry and don’t lash out at the customer.
  • Make them Feel Valued – The old adage in customer service is that the customer is always right, but this isn’t always true. For social media services, this is often the opposite.  Yes, you know what works, but so do they.  If their ideas are outlandish and impossible, you may have to dial them back a bit.  This is your responsibility, but it must be done without shoving your expertise down their throat.  A customer is going to pull back from the relationship if you’re combative.  Whether they’re right or not, make their opinion feel valuable, and try to draw from their enthusiasm.  This type of attitude will keep your client focused and happy, while still allowing you to have the control you need.  Never belittle a customer, no matter how wrong you believe they are.  They know their business better than you do, and nine times out of ten, that business is their baby.  Treat it right.

Sure, customer service relationships can be frustrating, and in social media management we want to think we always have the upper hand.  However, at the end of the day, what we do is ultimately what the client wants.  If the client isn’t happy, they’re not staying with us, but if they’re not getting results, they’re not sticking around either.  It is a thin line we walk, but balance will keep us from falling.  Strike a balance with the customer, without your ego and without theirs, and success will be more attainable.


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