Email + social media = smart customer service
So says Rupert Harrison, senior strategist at TBWALondon (find him on Twitter @rupertharrison) over on the Direct Marketing Association’s website

And when you read his article on the power that intelligent use of social media and email can unleash, I doubt you’ll disagree…
The key takeaway for me is his comment that…
“Integration is and has been a buzzword in the realms of multi-channel marketing for some time now. Some of the biggest brands still struggle to achieve a sufficient level of integration, particularly when it comes to integrating social media with other channels.”
The answer then is to develop an understanding of how to integrate social media into the marketing/channel mix.
Rupert’s story of how the Natural History Museum embraces social media has lessons in the round for us all – real practical lessons from the way they handled this whole situation.
Over to Rupert:
“This story begins with a day out with my five-year-old son to visit the Natural History Museum in London. While on the train on the way there, I tweeted “On the way to the Natural History Museum to see the animatronic dinosaur exhibition…woohoo!”.
This tweet was swiftly replied to by the manager of the museum (@NHM_MusMgr) retweeting my message, along with a really positive “enjoy it!” message. This impressed me to start with, to know that a museum was monitoring the social media buzz out there and starting two way dialogues with visitors.
Now, the real reason for visiting the museum was because my son was really excited to see the “real moving dinosaurs”. As you may know, there is no entry fee at the Natural History Museum. However, they do charge entry to the exhibitions that are frequently held.
While the museum was as good as always, the we felt that the exhibition was disappointing and we were round the “live dinosaur” part in no more than 15 minutes, which didn’t strike us as value for money given the £26 charge for the three of us.
On leaving the museum, I tweeted: “Museum great, thought dinosaur exhibition was disappointing…far too small considering the ticket price!”
This message was responded to equally quickly:
“Thanks for the honest feedback. I’ll raise it at our exhibition meeting. Do DM me an email address so we can respond fully.”
They had also followed me on Twitter, thereby allowing me to DM (direct message) them with my email address, which I duly did, not really expecting to hear back from them again.
A few days later I received an email expressing their disappointment at not meeting our expectations and offering me three free tickets to use at any subsequent exhibition. I emailed back explaining which aspects I was happy with and where I thought they could improve.
Five key lessons on how to use social media in customer services
1. Listen to what’s going on online and respond to it in as close to real time as you’re able.
2. Only engage with customers/prospects if you have the resource to listen, respond and follow up on queries/feedback.
3. Take comments on board and offer quick and satisfactory responses which solve the customers’ issues and keep them happy.
4. Go the extra mile to ensure that customers come back and are not put off by a negative experience that goes by unnoticed.
5. Demonstrate that you really care!
For me this story clearly illustrates Laura Fitton’s Twitter mantra – Listen, Learn, Care and Serve. It’s examples like this that prove the truly awe inspiring potential of social media – if you are open to its possibilities and you’re prepared to become people-centric as an organisation, you can achieve truly remarkable things that will have an immense effect on your profile and customer relationships as you go forward,