How "Social Media Customer Service" Is Often Either A Failure Or A Lie

Frank Eliason is a legend for pioneering @ComcastCares and being the guy who would hunt down Comcast customers who were complaining online and try to solve their problems. So why is the guy who helped invent large-scale social media customer service writing a post titled, “Social Media Customer Service is a Failure”? Well, Frank says that most companies are just slapping a new Twitter account on old broken systems, and are more interested in using social media to get customers to shut up.

“The other day someone tweeted me asking about current costs of phone calls versus the cost per Tweet for customer service,” Frank writes. “Ugh!” From this, you can tell that companies still see talking to their customers as a cost and they want to minimize it. They don’t actually want to talk to their customers. “Since they are worried about brand sentiment, they may appease you to shut you up. Sorry, shutting your customer up is not customer service and trying to expedite resolution isn’t a metric for the new world of consumer influence.”

Frank sees that companies look at the success that Dell and Comcast started having a few years back and think they can do the same just by adding a Twitter stream to the customer service call queue, and sticking an outsourced marketing person on Facebook. They think that by standing outside a fancy restaurant with a hamburger in their hand and letting the smells of the kitchen waft over them means that people will think they’re serving up prime rib. Frank says that most people are missing out on “the amount of work that went on behind Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The true transformation of these businesses what not in taking to social network, but instead building the back end to start fixing the problems that created negative experiences in the first place.” [emphasis added]

Frank says that companies need to start using smarter and more accurate measurements to unlock the true value of using social media customer service. Workers need to start telling executives the truth about how social media works. If they don’t know, they should stop lying and pretending that they do. Frank would like to see companies use metrics like the net promoter score of the social customer and tracking what products they’re buying.

“Huge ROI can be gained just by measuring changes that stem from listening. It’s sad to say, but the only changes I have seen are those due to large or threatening groundswells,” writes Frank Eliason. “And in my view, change was only made to silence the noise.”

So it’s still true that if you want to get your problems expedited, make a groundswell. For now, it’s still the only way to get companies to notice you, even though listening with a tin ear is costing them much more than actually making their product and service better.

Social Media Customer Service is a Failure! [Brian Solis]