I read an article recently, put forward of course by a fellow social media expert, who espoused the virtues of customer service on social media channels. Customers are demanding that companies answer their tweets, respond to their posts and ultimately give answers. It’s demanded within hours of the information being made public and vitriol is provided towards the companies that do not.
The latest, noted that 56% of customer tweets were ignored by companies. If companies were not answering tweets and Facebook posts within minutes, it was just not good customer service. Companies should have at least 25 people managing the companies twitter account and another half dozen on Facebook. 80% were planning to use social media, but it does not mean they were planning to use it right said the post. It is as if that ‘using it right’ actually meant that you must be responding to customers.
So how did we get to this? I have noted recently the change in customers raising their ire via social media well before they have even let the organisation know that they need assistance. I’ve watched customers become further irate because the tweet was not answered immediately. Are we rocketing towards a future where people tweet their customer service request before they make that call before? What is next, car insurance claims lodged on Instagram, roadside assistance requested through Foursquare and perhaps we will just send a Facebook message to request additional help of some kind and it will all be done this way instead of the phone call.
“The number one rule for successful social media customer service is action. Answer those tweets, comment on the Facebook posts, because in the end, customers want acknowledgement and social media can provide an outlet to do just that”. Well here is the trick – so can a phone call. I truly admire the way Telstra is proactive in social media. But at what cost, call them and you will spend a lot of time working through their call centre (based in India or the Philippines), not get what you want and eventually spend a good 30-90 minutes of your life getting nowhere. Tweet however, and you will get a response request for your phone number and be in contact with the right people in 30 minutes – actually wanting to help.
So where is the lesson? Companies taking social media seriously, must be ready to answer any and all messages in the public eye? In some cases this is fine. But what about the customers privacy? Trying settling financial services disputes via twitter.
Companies need to consider their approach to social media and that consideration needs to take into account if they want social media to be a 2 way communication channel for customer service. It’s one thing for the customer to reach out and answer that call, but sometimes a natural shift should occur to a one on one communication medium. Successful companies will have a natural transition from social media to their other channels.