Rethinking Customer Service
9 Reasons Why Large Companies Should NOT Rely on Social Media As A Customer Service Tool
Customer service continues to go in the wrong direction, and the degradation of customer service is moving at incredible speed. Fueled by a number of myths and bad thinking about both customer service and social media, companies, large and small, are actually delivering worse customer service than before.
1. You don’t need to be “where the customer is” to provide customer service.
It’s a myth that you need to be “where the customer is”. You need to be “found” when people need help. They bought the product, or they want info about the service. They WILL find you. Customers simply don’t care what channel they use compared to getting fast, thorough help with their needs. Period. They’ll email. They’ll phone. They will find you.
2) Spreading Customer Service Resources Too Thin
You are a telecommunication company. Or a bank. You already spend very little on customer service and we know that because customers can be put on hold for hours or don’t get anything but canned email responses. By adding social media to the mix, instead of fixing the problems with your existing channels how do things get better? The only way this works is if you spend a whole lot more to support customers. Fix what you have FIRST. Don’t add more mediocre service channels.
3) Relying On Third Parties?
Relying on third parties to provide FREE services for you company is plain stupid. You don’t have a legal binding arrangement with Twitter or Facebook, for example. Apart from the possibility that these platforms can crash, you have NO recourse if they change their policies or start charging for services that were previously free or hold YOUR customer information for ransom.
Remember that building a customer service platform on a third party site is costly in terms of customer attention. Imagine spending years creating several hundred thousand friends and followers, and having your account shut down?
4) Giving Away YOUR Information
Facebook, Twitter and other third party sites don’t charge money. You pay with information. The information you “give” them is some of the most important information any company can have — its customer base, how to contact customers, and their personal information. This would have been unthinkable even a decade ago, where LEADS were like gold, particularly qualified leads. Even if the information is safe from hackers (it’s not), there’s no guarantee that companies like Facebook and Twitter won’t use or sell YOUR customer information to sell to your customers.
5) Everyone’s Doing It?
It’s amazing that anyone with half a business brain understands that you have to differentiate yourself, or separate your business from its competitors. Well, what the heck. My competitors are on Facebook. We should be too. Businesses don’t succeed by doing what everyone else does.
What’s even more interesting is that if you use Facebook, you are restricted to what Facebook allows you to do, and that restricts your ability to demonstrate innovativeness. Most Facebook accounts and pages look exactly the same.
Guess it’s time to turf all your in-house visual identity designers. Stick your logo on a Facebook page, and hey, you and your competitors will all look alike.
6) Most Customer Service Interactions Have To Be Private
Social media has some uses, but one use it does NOT have is as a tool for resolving customer problems. Sure, companies like to show how “responsive” they are to customers, so there’s a pull to demonstrate this publicly.
However, there are distinct privacy issues here that are going to catch up to the reality. Do customers really want to advertise they have a 50 inch plasma TV, when they can be identified and tracked down virtually to the point of knowing where that TV sits? Even the most mundane customer service interactions need to be moved to private interaction anyway. Why add another layer to the already broken customer service delivery systems?
7) Most Social Media Platforms Too Limiting
Ever try solving a computer problem via Twitter? In 140 characters? Social media, as a communication method, is so flawed that it’s plain silly to add it to the mix. People don’t read social media “bytes” with much attention. Social media is not good with sustained conversations. The problem is and will be that companies attempt to shoehorn customer interactions into channels that are not suited to the resolution of problems.
8) Social Media Will Only Save You Money If…
…you fire employees and reduce the outlay for the use of other channels. For example, you have a call center, which is under funded in terms of both money and people. You add social media as an alternate. The ONLY way you win is if you use social media to REPLACE another channel, AND if it is cheaper. Is it? Usually not.
9) Adding Technology Layers Between Customer and Company Depersonalizes or Worsens Customer Service
Customer service is a people business — a process that works best when two people relate to each other as people, and with their respective roles.
If we have learned ONE thing about customer service over the last twenty years, it’s that when you stick technology between the customer service staff person and the customer, the relationship changes and things get worse. Email technology, for example, results in long waits for a substantive answer and the technology is often used (to cut costs) in an automated way that delivers canned responses that are infuriating to customers.
Voice mail trees, another example, are horrid. You make customers go through hoops using technology that is usually so complex it breaks or is buggy, spend hours navigating and waiting JUST to get a person who might not even be the person able to help.
Technology almost never improves processes that are fundamentally based on human interactions. Period. It may be that technology means saving money, but only because you make customer service worse.
So, What To Do If You Are A Large Corporation If You Want To Better Your Bottom Line Via Customer Service?
1) Build and use your own infrastructure for customer service. Control your own customer information, formats, look and feel, brand. Don’t give that control away to Facebook, for example.
2) Use social media for marketing if you must. Make it clear that to provide better customer service, it’s only offered in a limited number of channels.
3) Explain to customers you focus your customer service resources to provide the best basic service you/they can afford. Move customers to your best service channels. Then make them FLY.
4) If you feel you must do customer service on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, FIX WHAT YOU HAVE first. A lousy customer service system on phone and email isn’t going to magically be wonderful on Facebook.
5) Innovate. Be different. Personal human to human interactions is where to look. Only use technology when it’s truly the best way to interact with customers.
6) RETHINK CUSTOMER SERVICE. Rethink it often. Stop following. Start leading.