Social customer service

By Jesse Wilkins posted 02-18-2011 15:29



Recently Jeremiah Owyang wrote an insightful post on how to scale social media, ostensibly with the goal of helping social business strategists stay away from being relegated to "social media helpdesk". He received a number of comments and pushed the discussion to the Social CRM Pioneers group on Google under the topic "Social Media Doesn't Scale". As of this posting 26 comments had been received in response to the original post. 
As part of the original post, he asserts the following:
3) When we do respond to angry customers in social channels, we're actually 
"teaching" them that the fastest way to get our help is to yell at their own 
friends about us in public. 
While there were many great points made in the discussion, what I really found fascinating was the point Bob Thompson of made: "Phones don't scale either, and yet we still have call centers, don't we?" 
A couple of points that relate to this. First, as several of the posters noted, when people have problems they want to talk to people, not to automated phone trees. A customer service rep on Twitter can be as personal a touch as someone on the phone - and if it's a simple request, may be able to respond to it much more efficiently through Twitter than a phone call. 
Even if an issue does require more assistance, such that a call is warranted, 
the rep could send the customer a direct message giving them a direct number to call, get a number to have someone call teh customer directly, etc. It also shows the personality of the person engaged, and this can also help to personalize the process and the brand.  
Second, it has long been a truism that customer service is one of the major touchpoints between an organization and its customers. The customer is already frustrated and making the complaint in a very public way. When the organization *engages* with that customer in the same very public way, it can defuse the situation pretty quickly, and much more importantly, demonstrate the organization's commitment to service. Some of the most well-known case studies for Twitter usage deal with @comcastcares, for Comcast Cable, and @Twelpforce, for Best Buy. 
I'm not suggesting that Twitter or Facebook replace your call centers and other customer service channels. But I think this is a clear value for organizations who have smart, personable, knowledgeable, empowered employees in the customer service department. If you save $100K from people not cancelling your service or dropping your product out of frustration, that's as good as making $100K in new sales - or better, because some of those newly happy clients will evangelize the great service they got. 

#bestbuy #twitter #SocialBusiness #comcastcares #jeremiahowyang #web-strategist #comcast #Customerservice #twelpforce