Social Customer Service is Different.
In the past several months, I found myself using Twitter differently than I would have used it 2 years ago. My tweets are far less of a broadcast nature and more of a customer service nature.
That’s right, while I do explore traditional means of customer service engagement first in some or all instances, I find myself jumping on Twitter for the need to follow through.
For me, this is a good thing. Real Time Email is built on the tenets of being truly proactive in customer service interactions due to the rise of social media.
For companies, this is somewhat of a bad thing. Actually, it’s a really bad thing. The fact is, I shouldn’t have to send tweets like this. Or this. Or this. Or this. (And that’s in the last week alone.) But the truth is, I have to. Traditional customer service is broken. You are a name, not a face, and in some instances, you’re not even a name.
With few notable exceptions (Zappos, I’m looking at you), customer service is a mindless task of putting a customer in line or “resolving” an issue to someone’s satisfaction (customer or company, not always customer) and then moving on. A customer service rep may have access to a user’s account history and his history of contacting support, but that’s not to say the CSR really cares that the customer has opened 4 tickets or contacted live chat 5 times about the same issue. Further, companies are deeply engrossed in canned replies (just check out all the helpdesk software apps that exist — I don’t know a single one without this option), but worse, these replies are hardly human.
If anything, there’s an even greater rift between customer service and customer happiness. The number of people complaining about products must be increasing, or perhaps most products are getting worse, because I’ve never personally had to contact customer support so often — except here I am, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Social media is supposed to have changed that. The Cluetrain Manifesto, now over a decade old, has taught us that markets are conversations, that it’s a two way street and that companies can’t just broadcast. That means that customers are talking back at brands when brands fail to deliver. And yet brands have yet to catch on.
I was one of the first people in this space to recognize the importance of social media. The company I was involved with in 2006 was one of the first social media consultancies to recognize how social can truly raise the awareness of brands. It gave rose to a book deal with O’Reilly in 2008, with a bestselling book that was published in 5 languages in 2009.
And yet, here we are, nearly a decade later, and companies are still clueless, pissing off customers so that they have no choice but to hop on social media to make their issues broadcast to a larger community. Frankly, I don’t mind. If you can’t deliver when I follow traditional methods of communication, I will find a way to make my voice heard.
It’s about time we start taking customer service seriously in the social era. I’m thinking it’s time to build a platform for people to bitch and moan so companies can feel more accountable. Of course, it will broadcast to Twitter too. Who’s with me?