Social media makes customer service worse.

It’s true. Social media has made customer service worse for most of us.

Is It Possible That Social Media Is Making Customer Service Worse? You Bet, and Here’s Why

Q: You’ve commented that you believe social media will make customer service worse, overall. How can that be?

A: It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but if you have even a basic understanding of how business works, it makes sense. Let’s deal with some realities here. Companies, particularly large ones, view customer service as overhead. It’s not a profit center for them. It’s a cost center, and as such they want to minimize the costs. You may disagree with that as a strategy but that IS the reality, and it’s almost universal.

When companies have to “cover” communication coming in via additional channels (let’s say through Twitter, and Facebook, etc, in addition to non-social media methods), they have more things to do. Because the philosophy is cost reduction, companies don’t tend to add to their customer service budgets. The existing resources are simply spread thinner, meaning that overall things get worse because there is the same number of employees doing more work and covering more channels.

Q: Ok. If that’s the case, then why is there this big push on the part of companies to use social media for customer support?

A: Part of it is bandwagon jumping. Another is that they don’t want to get left out and they don’t quite get that you have to support new customer service channels with more resources/money to make it work. It’s really not well thought out, at least for most companies.

Then there’s the social media “thought leaders” who keep pushing this. It starts to get pretty clear that a lot of these people have little understanding of customer service within the context of running a business. They understand customer service from the position of the customer and how they think it SHOULD be, but they don’t connect the financial realities to their commitment to customer service.

Let them put their own money to staff social media customer service channels, and you’ll see how quickly they change their tunes, when it comes out of their pockets!

Q: But isn’t it true that some of the things that make up good customer service don’t actually cost anything? Like the interpersonal stuff that makes customers feel valued? Those things wouldn’t be affected by spreading resources too thin?

A: Indeed, from the outside you would think that kind of stuff is free. But it’s not. Companies tend to under staff their establishments so they don’t pay people for standing around when the demands are low, but that results in employees being overwhelmed. Even the best employees, interpersonally speaking, are going to find it hard to show they value their customers when everyone is angry with them, and there’s so little time. It still comes down to two things: Money, and time.

Social media without adding more money makes things worse. That’s because there is no more extra “time” available.

Author: Robert Bacal

Leave a Reply