Say you post on a Facebook page of a business or a government organisation or @-mention them on Twitter. How long do you expect it can pass until you receive a reply from them? Are your expectations different if instead of contacting them on social networks you e-mail them?
I’ve found that businesses and organisations, on their venture to provide their customers with exceptional service, tend to send contact-us-between-8-and-17 signals across their social network profiles. They have set hours that they want to be expected to be available on the social networks.
Whether this strategy is something that serves the interests of the customers and public is arguable. The nature of social networks is fast. Speed and relevancy are never to underestimate in the relationship with your customers. If you know your customers are prone to contact you between 17:00 and 18:00, but you make a conscious choice not to serve them after 17:00, you should better have very good reasons for your actions (or rather inactivity).
Another aspect of the nature of social networks is that they are interactive. So, neither is dialogue to underestimate when it comes to customer service and experience. Take note of the behaviour your customers exhibit. Come to an agreement as to what works best for both your organisation and them.
Your customers are in for a relationship, make the most of it. Do not be afraid to show that things might have been going too fast, and that you wish to slow down. If you aren’t ready to take things further and at the same time are sincere about your motives, you might have a future with your customers.
On the other hand, if you are indeed ready to move past the acquaintance stage and on to the first base (I might be pushing this relationship metaphor too far, but bear with me) with your customers, be honest about why you choose to make yourself available in the evenings and on the weekends. Only make sure beforehand that you both are running the same race at the same pace.