Customer Service & Social Media A Terrible Mix For Customers

The Illusions Of Social Media As An Effective Customer Service Tool

Social media is approached by companies in what can be best characterized as a schizoid, (split personality) way. On one hand with BILLION of people with accounts on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the existence of millions of blogs and video platforms, companies eye the multitudes with an eye to using social media to increase sales, via marketing. This “go where the masses are” accounts for the huge lion share of revenue for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. On the other hand, companies are confused about customer service using these platforms.

There’s no question that companies have approached social media cautiously and slowly, particularly when it comes to establishing a social media presence dedicated to customer service, and once established, responding to customers posting about them on social media. The commitment to do both of these is “soft”, and companies are struggling to manage the logistics of the process that works within the business realities mentioned in the earlier chapters in this book.

Even in 2013, when the major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook) have been established and popular for over five years, the research suggests that companies are still not responding consistently or in a timely fashion to mentions, or more importantly, direct requests for help. That IS improving year to year, though. When surveyed, CEO’s and business decision makers tell researchers that they INTEND to increase their social media presence, and to use social media for customer service, and in fact, response rates are improving.

Research companies, social media and customer service consultants, and social media activists consider this slow “improvement”, an improvement, the assumption being that social media will improve customer service quality, even though there is no hard evidence to support that contention.

So, here’s the problem. As companies spread their customer service resources more thinly and try to cover multiple contact platforms, there’s a risk that customer service will actually get worse. That WILL occur if companies divert resources from other channels (i.e. telephone support, email responses) to social media. Unless the use of social media, or for that matter any channel is not accompanied by investment in more staff, customer service will NOT improve, because, as we talked about earlier, customer service is not scalable. Or rather good customer service isn’t.

For years now, social media and customer service pundits have been suggesting that business decision makers are somehow “afraid” of social media, fearful of losing control of their messages. The common phrase used is decision-makers don’t “get it”.

In fact, it’s the pundits that don’t “get” the fundamental nature of social media, having been caught up in a number of illusions regarding how real people use social media platforms and tools. In subsequent chapters we’ll look at a number of complete myths about social media as it relates to customer service, but first we need to address the more general misconceptions about social media platforms, and how they are used. If we don’t fully understand this, we can’t possibly identify both the opportunities and lack of opportunities that come from the convergence of social and service.

Click here to find out HOW and WHY the customer service and social media experts “got it wrong”.

Author: Robert Bacal

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