Social Media, your easiest route to keeping service going with a smile in an emergency.

Due to a gas leak which effected our entire area, our Montreal (Westmount) offices had to be closed. As a result, the city shut down power, taking down with it our phone systems. Although we have offices in Toronto and could reroute calls there, something about the power outage affected this contingent plan. Customer service for our clients is my top priority and concern when something like this happens. Disasters happen everywhere, and maybe your product is not going to be the forefront of your client’s mind when it does. What happens when it is?

If your phone systems and internal computer networks failed (due to a power outage, or a fire) who would be there to answer your clients? Although I am a huge advocate of Social Media, and the opportunities this presents everyone from large corporations to small business owners, and consultants, I never really considered this angle – until today.

Social media, is off site. Your Facebook, your Skype numbers, your twitter, your mobile app – all these things are available regardless of where you are or what is happening onsite at your business. You can remotely manage all these things to act as your contact base for clients if for some reason something has gone wrong over your traditional business channels.  That’s true service, that’s value added.

We have heard about the value of Twitter in breaking news stories and alerting people to crises – well when your office is shut down, for whatever reason, think of Social media as a potential save in your day. This aspect of using Social Media only occurred to me when I called into the office to check on our call routing – I was surprised and distressed to realize it was not working. I immediately thought, how are we going to help people when they call if they can’t get through? Social Media is the only solution. I got on our Facebook, our Twitter, and through blogging, will get the news on my Mobile App and web.

We are extremely fortunate that we have set up our Social Media channels at my company – even though we are not fully utilizing them yet- we did not hold back. We are still building our foundations, but let me tell you, I was really relieved to be able to offer people a way to connect and get help when everything else could be failing.

So, in light of this, I ask you this question as a manager, a customer service organization, a large business, a small business:

Any of you who say you can’t afford to get into social media, or don’t have the resources. Can you afford not to?

If you have a business situation that causes your servers access to be restricted, or your phone lines to go down – can you afford to be completely disconnected in this world where consumers have other ways to communicate? Can you let your customers down? Where are they going to turn? Give them means, give them ways to communicate. That’s the reason you’re in business, isn’t it?

I was very focused until today on the value added we needed to give our clients by creating a strong and responsive infrastructure to our Social Media, Today I am thinking, wow, I WISH I had thought of this “emergency response” approach before – Facebook, Twitter, my mobile app – they can all be central communication points for my clients to reach out and for me to respond. That’s value added.

So from one customer focused person to another, think outside the box – think bigger than just standard customer service. Social media has the potential to do a lot more for you than you realize. I am so glad I put the pieces in place before today so that I could use these tools to keep in touch. We have to find ways to deliver that smile to our clients in any way we can, especially in tough times. Social media is a very good way.

Have you ever considered this angle before? Are you holding back on Social Media involvement at your company? Why?


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