social customer serviceLike many my age, when the bass-line for Vanilla Ice’s mega-hit “Ice Ice Baby” starts pumping out of a speaker within my hearing distance, I am transported to another age. This has happened more than a few times in the past month—I have no explanation for why people are longing for that particular era just now.

The last time the song came on in my hearing range, I was in a high-end coffee shop. I must have been feeling particularly contemplative because I started to listen to the lyrics and I thought, “Way back in 1990, Vanilla Ice understood the secrets of great customer care in an increasingly social world.” And yes, that revelation seemed pretty shocking to me, too. Maybe it was too much caffeine?

The song has an oft-repeated refrain touting Mr. Ice’s can-do attitude: “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” While that sentiment seems perfectly apt for any true customer service professional, it was not the set of lyrics that made me take notice. In truth, my brain caught on the phrase, “stop, collaborate and listen.”  At first, I thought that those three actions seem out-of-order, in either a hip-hop or a customer service context. But then I realized that in the context of the social customer service world, the order was exactly right. Here’s why:

Stop – Much has been written about the ways in which social media upends the relationship between companies and consumers, and how consumers have all the power today. As a first step in social customer service, companies need to stop fighting to keep the old ways alive. This means they need stop viewing social networks as broadcast channels and start seeing the potential for meaningful interactions with actual human contact. This requires companies to…

Collaborate – Social networks give companies the opportunity to give digital channels a human feel. Expressing the desire to work together to solve a customer problem, to put in some genuine emotion or humor, or to simply show that a company is made up of individuals with distinct personalities goes a long way in capitalizing on the strengths of a social network. This is especially true because the one-to-one interaction a company has with its customer on Twitter or Facebook or some other social network is actually a one-to-many interaction due to all the other consumers potentially watching that interaction. This means that when a company provides social customer service, it then needs to….

Listen – The savviest companies see customer complaints as extremely valuable since they can act as a roadmap for improvement. Social customer engagement can provide valuable early warnings for product problems, service issues or changing customer needs, but companies need to be listening for these opportunities and be willing to adopt a ‘small steps, many iterations’ approach to improvement. Luckily, this method fits perfectly with the zeitgeist of social marketing and social brand building approaches that value small iterations and much experimentation that many companies have already begun to adopt.

To learn more about technologies which can enable social customer care please visit our Social Customer Service page where you find more information, including a white paper and webinar.