Jim Long - Web Video, Content Marketing, Social Media | Verge New Media

Social Media and Customer Service – Long on Promise, Short on Delivery.

Free Social Media Strategy Advice

Here’s some FREE social media expertise. As such, it’s likely valued similarly, but just as useful as any other “thought leadership” floating around out there. Here’s the deal: If you’re a brand using social media to field customer service complaints on Twitter or Facebook, make sure the other links in your customer service chain are as dedicated, sophisticated, responsive, and dogged as you are. What good is it if your company is out there patting the heads of us poor consumers, putting your reassuring arms around us on Twitter, just to leave us victim to your Kafkaesque customer service?  I’m not alone on this one.  Right Place Marketing asks: Are You Using Social Media as an Excuse for Poor Customer Service?

..are they merely doing good PR by handling public, highly-visible complaints with a fast, courteous response, while the rest of their customers are sitting on hold listening to the endless easy-listening loop?

- Right Place Marketing

three year old Kenmore HE2 dryer with failed heating element

dryer that doesn’t dry.

Now much of this rant is the result of being betrayed by the dryer pictured here, my subsequent grumblings to a yet-to-respond publicly [REDACTED] and the resulting odyssey that has ensued.  While @scottfmurphy has been incredibly helpful and sincere,  the rubber meets the road part of our customer service experience has been unimpressive… infuriating in fact.   But that’s sometimes how this stuff works.   So I won’t bore you with our garden variety consumer woes.  My point is, for all the self congratulatory social media back slapping that goes on, much of it is undeserved.  Many of these efforts appear, by design, simply a means to squelch negative Twitter mentions.

And The Noisy Shall Be Heard – If They Have A Lot of Followers

Flickr photo courtesey of Carol Browne

Once a customer service complaint has reached the Twitters, your customer service team has likely failed.  It’s the online equivalent of  “I will not leave this store and I will stand here shouting at the cash register until I speak to the manager!”  The effectiveness of this strategy appears directly proportional to the number of followers you have on Twitter.  Enter Kevin Smith.

So when your social media complaints department responds with “gosh, so sorry to hear you’ve had this experience.  we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”  – that’s just PR.  That makes YOU look good in the near term, but it doesn’t make us feel good. More importantly it doesn’t make the customer whole.

Do It Right or Don’t Bother

So to all of you much blogged about, case study panel sittin’, social media – customer service darling brands – I say this: don’t write social media checks the rest of the customer service chain can’t cash.

Dryer Update

The heating element arrived from [REDACTED] yesterday (3/1) and the tech came out to make the repair not long after.  Minutes after he left, ANOTHER heating element arrived, so I’ll save that one (unless [REDACTED] asks for it back) in case this one fails.  [REDACTED] executive office of customer service called to make sure that we were satisfied with the work.

  • http://www.adelemcalear.com adelemcalear

    It's good to see you writing again :) And, you have a valid point. Social media can be smoke and mirrors to mask a company culture of complacency. Sadly, a Twitter account and a few (probably great) people on the social media front lines can't fix the woes of a company all on their own. It takes a shift in attitude from the C-level all the way down to the trenches. And that type of change in culture is not easy to come by. It's those corporations that truly embrace the spirit of community engagement and transparency with open minds and true hearts, at every level of the organization, instead of just paying lip service to the latest trend, that will win out in the end.

    P.S. I'm sorry for your dryer woes and hope you have a resolution soon.

    • newmediajim

      Seems to me that it should be a full integration, otherwise it's at worst PR, at best a hamstrung effort. The dryer guy is supposed to be here today :)

    • newmediajim

      UPDATE: the dryer guy has arrived!

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  • waxmarketing

    funny…Julio Ojeda just did a blog post about this in the Pioneer Press – I went and experimented and 3 out of 3 times got a MUCH better response on Twitter http://bit.ly/96peVt

    • newmediajim

      Bonnie, I agree that by and large, brands are responsive on Twitter. I there is often a disconnect between the social media efforts and the actual customer service. i.e. the call center conveying the right information the the service technician, the parts getting to the right place. etc.

      • waxmarketing

        You're probably right. These three were all refund situations, so it was easy for them to do it.

  • http://stardustglobalventures.com sherylbreuker

    Do you have any idea how much I love what you said on the bottom? Las paragraph? As my kids used to say, they don't anymore because they're grown up, Get outa my HEAD!
    AWESOME and now it's MY turn to retweet/post for you. Wow! Just wonderful.

    • newmediajim

      :) Thank you Sheryl. i was inspired LOL

  • http://twitter.com/kencamp Ken

    Another example of spin doctors vs. the real world. Without complete incorporation to the corporate culture, creating spin with a Twitter presence reall highlights just how bad the service is with some companies. It also shows how little they truly understand or value social media. They aren't engaged. They're simply spouting spin hoping it will make them look good.

    Customer disservice at its highest visibility.

    • newmediajim

      Ken I do have to point out that @scottfmurphy was very sincere and helpful. the rest of their parts and customer service system left a lot to be desired.

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  • http://twitter.com/AmandaSena Amanda Sena

    Great post! It's all about basic follow through. Identifying the brand issue or complaint does no good if the next step to resolve the issue isn't taken. THAT'S when a real difference in a brand's name will exist.

    • newmediajim

      Thanks Amanda! I think the days are over when people will be impressed
      by a brand's speedy Twitter response, especially if their actual
      delivery of service is clumsy

  • sheilaenn

    Hi Jim,

    Nice one — at the social media for marketing conference in London (http://bit.ly/9wodnR) a chat participant raised the question of how a company delivers consistent customer service across all channels without seen to show favoritism for channels like twitter. The question wasn't answered!

    Now that you have aired these concepts, hopefully organizations using the social channels will be alert to possible accusations of favoritism, proactively examine whether they can be consistent, and make consistency a priority. But I imagine it's systemic failures and poor communication inside large organizations that lead to customer-service disasters in the first place; diagnosing and treating those is no small job.

    Sheila Averbuch — ENN

    • newmediajim

      Sheila, first and foremost, thanks for stopping by! And thank you for
      the link to the live blog.

      You nailed it with “systematic failures and poor communication” within
      organizations. Diagnosis should be readily apparent. Treatment
      requires committment of money and resources. Social media won't solve
      that.

  • http://twitter.com/geekygirlAustin Jodi Henderson

    IMO, companies must commit to customer service as a whole in order for any of the channels it uses to be successful. If the underlying philosophy is right, it shouldn't matter whether we're talking social media or traditional customer service channels. Although, I would say that the more touch points you offer (for example, you add social media-based interactions to your traditional customer service plan), the greater the number of opportunities for failure. Providing a good customer experience is hard, and that's why not everyone does it.

    • newmediajim

      Jodi, it is hard – especially when companies treat it as a burdensome cost center and not an opportunity to build loyalty.

  • karimacatherine

    This illustrates what I often say (not loud enough may be),
    You need a strong product, solid processes, trained and empowered front-line, knowledgeable and willing customer service and THEN, Social Media will boost.
    I am amazed how disconected the online is disconnected to the brick/Mortar to the phone staff.

    I just LOVE this post. resonates deep :)

    Karima-Catherine

    • newmediajim

      Karima – Glad you stopped by and happy the post resonated with you! Thank you for adding to the conversation. Many industries suffer from that disconnect. Media (my industry) often has difficulty getting their traditional publishing silos working with web.

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  • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

    AMEN Jim. Amen.

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  • http://www.tramadol.nu/ tramadol

    If a marketer use social media in smart way , then it is must that he will surely get profit from it.

  • http://www.searchengineoptimisation.com Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    Social media needs time and you should have enough skills to use it in right way to get maximum out of it

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

  • Phil

    When it comes to social media marketing, you need to ensure you understand the basics of an effective social media campaign. However, do not expect quick results. Social media marketing takes time and you have to be patient whilst remaining active with the online community.

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