Today is the first day of National Customer Service Week, when raising awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays in successful business practice and the growth of the UK economy takes centre stage. Half-watching BBC News Channel whilst I was getting ready for work early this morning, my attention was drawn to the discussion the presenters were having about the importance of good customer service.

They debated how businesses need to keep adapting and evolving their customer service processes to keep up to speed in our constantly changing, increasingly digital landscape. A point made, which really resonated with me, was that customer service needs to be a constant process of training. When it comes to social media, where the customer/business dialogue is exposed, getting it right becomes even more important, and the value of training cannot be underestimated.

Last month, British Airways was thrown into the limelight when a promoted tweet was used to complain about the handling of a lost luggage issue. Typically a mechanic for marketers who want to reach a wider audience, this paid-for tweet was used as an attack on the airline. “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous” went viral within a matter of hours. Although an extreme example, it highlights the need for businesses to listen to their customers and be prepared to react, quickly.

Appropriately, day 1 of National Customer Service Week celebrates ‘leadership and skills’. Businesses must empower their staff to be able to provide top notch service; a convoluted, lengthy sign-off process simply won’t cut it on social, where customers expect a swift response.

The flipside of the BBC debate was that customers also have a responsibility to treat customer service representatives like human beings. Unfortunately, social media allows for faceless trolls to cause havoc, and overwhelm constructive customer service conversations. For this reason, front line social media representatives must be supported and educated to ensure that they are able to deal with these situations effectively.

So what does the future of social customer service look like? We will just have to wait and see, but in the meantime, businesses must work to create the best experiences possible, with the resources available to them.

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