What Does “Scaling” Mean and Why Do I Need To Understand It?
Something — let’s say a technology, or process “scales” if it works as effectively, or more effectively as its use and number of users expands. It’s a business concept, and it is critical to understand it to grasp the limitations of social media as it relates to improving customer service.
Something that “scales” will cost no more, or will cost less as its used by more people.
QUALITY Customer Service Via Social Media Doesn’t Scale
Automating a process, will make that process scalable, because it will require little extra resources, even as users double, or triple. Think of automated checkouts at a department store. Once the checkout stands are set up, they require little additional investment even though users may grow. Checkouts with live people do not scale as well, because as users increase, the number of people needed to staff them increases.
The problem is that HIGH QUALITY customer service is still a person to person kind of interaction. Companies still need to have real people who respond to blog posts, tweets, status updates, and so on that are posted via social media. For that reason, social media doesn’t scale as a delivery method for the most important parts of the customer service equation.
Implications of Scaling For Business Decisions and Customer Service
It’s fair to say that social media “opens the door” to make communcation to companies easier and even more convenient. It takes remarkably little effort to send a tweet about a company or to a company, so of course “messages to companies” have increased along with the popularity of social media. However, since the responding to these messages is not a scalable process — that is the more messages the higher the cost to companies — and companies are always trying to reduce overhead, the result is actually poorer service, with the majority of messages to companies receiving no response or an automated response of poor quality.
If you want an answer to the question ” Why is the quality of customer service dropping during the age of social media?”, “scaling” or lack of it, is key. And, if you are a business wanting to juse social media as a customer service tool, think carefully about how you will respond to the increased flow of messages while keeping the essential aspects of customer service — person to person interaction.