How to Get Started
The easiest way to begin using social media to drive customer service is to start listening to online conversations. Using free platforms such as Google Alerts, Twitter Search, or even a more advanced monitoring platform such as SocialMention.com (also free), you can start tracking keyword mentions of your company, products, and even phrases people might use when having issues with your service. When you see the results of the search, investigate the source and respond. Even if you just say, "I'd like to help. Can you email or call me with more details?" you're at least bridging that gap. If you can handle the issue online without a phone call, you've saved money for your company.
More advanced software is available as well. From paid social-media monitoring (or listening) platforms such as Radian6, Sysomos, Alterian SM2, or Lithium Social Media Monitoring to advanced social customer-relationship management systems like SpredFast or JitterJam, the technology is out there. It's just a matter of finding the right one and implementing it in your company.
Jason Falls is the author (with Erik Deckers) of No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. You can buy the book online at NoBullshitSocialMedia.com, or from Que Publishing, where it is available in both electronic and printed formats. Jason can be found on Twitter at @JasonFalls and on his industry blog at SocialMediaExplorer.com.