Many big corporations shy away from using social media for customer service, investigations and complaint resolution. This week, I’m going to use Tim Hortons as an example of a big brand that has an opportunity to use social media space and tools to improve its customer service.
People expect great customer service from Tim Hortons, because great customer service is still strongly tied into the common perception of Tim Hortons brand. When they encounter problems, most people just want to share the experience they had with Tim Hortons, often because they have a perception that Tim Hortons cares and will try to fix the issue. Since not everyone is comfortable dealing with a local franchisee, simply providing people with more options to resolve complaints would be useful.
Currently, when people google “Tim Hortons customer service”, these are the options they get:
Clearly, there is an opportunity here to set up shop to engage with people more directly on social media channels, and use social media for customer service.
It would make sense for Tim Hortons to set up official and appropriate channels on social media for resolving customer complaints, for several reasons.
Five Reasons to Use Social Media for Customer Service
1. People are accustomed to sharing information about their experiences online. They already do that in various places on the web.
2. There are many different sites where people leave negative reviews; monitoring those and responding to them can be a challenge worth exploring.
3. Most people, if given a choice, would choose what they perceive as the most direct way of getting their feedback through to Tim Hortons. At the moment, Tim Hortons Facebook page and its twitter account serve as a magnet for complaints, and it’s not the most effective way of handling issues.
4. The advantages of setting up shop for receiving complaints and accepting reviews could include the opportunity to engage with customers directly, generate goodwill, investigate issues, moderate reviews and comments, follow up on serious complaints and concerns, track the kinds of issues people have and resolve any systemic problems that may come to light, as well as raise awareness about the brand in a positive way, strengthening the brand.
5. Although it is still not common for big companies to use social media for customer service, several already dipped their toes in the water, and some have built reputations on doing this right. Dell, Starbucks, and McDonalds in particular have all addressed customer service online in creative ways, and their experience could be useful to Tim Hortons as it comes up with its own comprehensive social media engagement strategy.
Using social media for customer service is just one of the many ways Tim Hortons could engage with its clients on social media. The online space continues to evolve, and new developments of new online tools, social networks, and even programming trends (like using HTML5) create new opportunities for brands to distinguish themselves from the competition and forge stronger and more personal ties with the consumers. Tim Hortons, like many big brands who shy away from what I call digital thinking, already has many necessary cornerstones to build a successful social media strategy. Its time has come to integrate social media into its business in a progressive, proactive way.