If I had to pick the one aspect of being a social media consultant that I least enjoy, it would be the customer service side. A big part of managing the Facebook page of a consumer oriented company is responding to consumer complaints.
Anyone who ever worked as a waiter or a waitress (I did as a student) will tell you that they will never ever be rude to waitstaff, or under-tip, after being on the other side of dining in a restaurant. The same goes for customer service, I imagine – if you ever had to deal with customers, you will always remember that on the other side of the line there’s a person, and that even if she represents a company, she’s still very much a human being and being polite and courteous is not just the right thing to do, but will likely get better results.
On the Internet, people often allow themselves to be quite rude – especially those who maintain anonymity. And there’s always the small percentage of people who try to take advantage of offers and get more than they should (trying to game the system, for example, by getting more than one coupon, by entering a contest more than once, etc.)
So you walk a fine line here. Sure, the customer is always right, but sometimes you have to place limits – politely. And even if 100 people “yell” at you simultaneously, because a promised feature on the page doesn’t work, you have to keep your cool, issue apologies, explain that the company’s tech support is working on it, and try to remember to keep breathing ;), reminding yourself that this too shall pass.
Social media can and should be used to provide quick, accessible customer service. In the name of all of us who provide that service, I ask you just one thing: be gentle. We’re people too. 🙂