Social Media Customer Service for Utilities

Utilities have so far been slow to adapt social media customer service.  This is a shame, because unless you have been living under a rock for the last 5 years, you already know that the social media machine is taking over, especially as it relates to younger generations like millennials.  I have previously written about the importance of leveraging social media for utility communications during outage situations, but now it seems like that is not enough – there are plenty of young people that would prefer social media customer service all the time, not just during outages.

Optimizing Social Media Customer Service

Utilities are relatively “old school” by nature, so this trend could be a tough pill to swallow for decision-makers.  But according to Adweek.com, assuming your company is already taking steps to increase communication through these channels, there are certain best practices that can be employed to ease this transition.

  • Educate – Communicate with customers via traditional and other digital channels to let them know they can reach out to customer care via social media platforms.  This is not a ‘build it and they will come’ scenario – you need to tell them.
  • Invest – Hopefully this goes without saying, but developing a robust social media customer service capability requires an investment in technology, as well as employees who are well versed to communicate via these channels.
  • Be human – Allow customer service reps some flexibility in their social media interactions.  Allow them to show their personalities, as this is what the audience is accustomed to and would prefer.
  • Proactively engage – Unlike the phone, social media channels lend themselves to proactive communication, not just reactive.  During downtime, social media reps should proactively engage with people online.
  • Innovate – Best practices dictate that social media channels should be integrated with traditional service channels from a technology perspective.
  • Analyze – Every online interaction leaves bread crumbs that can be analyzed and leveraged to improve future performance.
  • Execute – I know it may be uncomfortable, but when it comes to social media customer service, act like Nike and just do it!

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