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:
- Is social media marketing causing you to lose money? (smartblogs.com)
- Yes, Customers Are Willing to Use Social Media for Customer Service [Infographic] (readwriteweb.com)
- How social media can save your business from a customer riot (smartblogs.com)