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One of the main benefits of social media is to provide instant customer service. While this might be true, I think we’re seeing it from the wrong angle. Companies are looking at it as a way to put out fires, to delay an customers eventual frustration.
Simplr’s blog post exploring how social technologies might change customer service. But first, we should look at how we actually conduct customer service away from social media.
A few weeks ago, as soon as Google+ was unleashed, Michael Dell asked people if they would like to connect with Dell Service teams via Google Hangout. Lots of people thought it was a great idea, but one comment in particular caught my attention:
Danny Sullivan – Jul 18, 2011 – Public
No +Michael DellI don’t want to use Hangouts to connect with Dell customer service. What I want, from you or any company, is to ensure I actually get the best customer service experience possible when I actually use your “normal” customer service channels.Eventually, I’ll finish my long-planned blog post on how every customer service “success” on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ is really a customer service failure. In short, consider this.If I walked into a store and started yelling about how bad the store was, to get my problem resolved, who would consider that a successful customer service model? But that’s basically what we are encouraged to do through social media, yell there as an attempt to get problems solved as a last resort.OK, it’s more nuanced than that. I have have great respect for the people who do perform huge customer service through social media channels. But these shouldn’t be end runs your customers need to use because your regular customer service channels are so convoluted and so often backed by people who aren’t enabled to just solve problems.That’s where I’d like to see you or any company put your energies, before we get more social media candy.
And that (in bold), is the point.
People are using social media as a last resort to vent their frustrations. And businesses are reacting to it by asking customers to post positive reviews online to counter the hate. Sure, businesses will react positively after an unhappy customer (who is well connected) posts his frustrations on Twitter and Facebook. It’s common sense. But this doesn’t help things, it just creates a never ending loop of reaction.
They’re not delighting customers, they’re merely delaying frustration.
What we really need to do is look at social media as another way to win the hearts of customers. To delight them. Not as a way to put out fires.
While you may see Zappos using social media for customer service, they don’t really see it that way. For them it’s another way to connect with their customers and as an opportunity to win their hearts. One more way to ‘Deliver Happiness’.
Problems will arise no doubt because no company worth mentioning never makes a mistake. Just don’t keep on making the same ones over and over again because that is what frustrates customers.
Bottom line is delivering customers service through social channels should not be seen as a silver bullet solution, simply adding more touch points to your mix but not solving the customers problem isn’t going to to save you. The customer doesn’t care if you experiment on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Google+, what they care about is being treated with respect and getting their issues resolved.
And lastly, don’t ignore them. I repeat, don’t ignore them. If you’re on these channels, they expect you to be there for them.
P.S. I’ll leave with a few more comments to reinforce the point:
I got this in my inbox from the Innovation People Expert Innovators Creative Network by Gerald Haman and thought I should pass it along:
I have formed other Linkedin Groups to help innovators connect with other people who have similar interests or passions. Check out the following list that contains the group name, number of members and a convenient link to click to join or learn more.
100,200 Members in Marketing, PR, Sales & Word-of-Mouth Innovators Group
12,415 Members in Green & Sustainability Innovators Group
12,303 Members in Twitter Innovators Group
10,823 Members THIS InnovationPeople Group
4,120 Members in Brand Innovators & Branding Leadership Expert Group
3,690 Members in Learning & Education Innovators Group
2,476 Members in HealthCare Innovators, Medical, Pharma & Biotech Group
2,390 Members in Sales & Selling Innovators Group
2,354 Members in Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators Group
2,328 Members in GTD Innovators – Users of David Allen’s Getting Things Done Group
2,143 Members in New Product & Service Innovators Group
1,991 Members in APP Users & Developers for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android Phones Group
1,376 Members in Meeting & Event Design Professionals Group
1,176 Members in Fundraising & Philanthropic Innovators Group
1,118 Members in Facebook Innovators Group
1,069 Members in Communication Innovators Expert Network Group
717 Members in Association, Convention & Conference Innovators Group
551 Members in TRIZ Innovation Network Group
488 Members in Very Innovative People Group
416 Members in YouTube innovators Group
406 Members in Experience Economy Innovators Group
379 Members in Futurists & Anticipatory Scientists Group
379 Members in Chicagovators Group
376 Members in Innovative Networkers Group
178 Members in Government & Political Innovators Group
135 Members in KnowBrainer “Trained Brains” Innovators Group
128 Members in SolutionPeople Innovators Group
96 Members in Innovation Idols Network of Innovators Group
50 Members in InnovatorsDigest.com Innovation Network Group
32 Members in Innovation Trainers Group
15 Members in Innovation Facilitators Group
13 Members in Innovation Coaches Group