By Brandon Carter | Updated on May 31, 2013 1:27:00 AM
A little over two years ago I came clean about my secret history of being a social media complainer. I admitted the shame of being a social community manager tasked with battling the hordes of angry Tweeters and Facebookers, yet on the side I was one of the ruthless attackers.
I promise to stop being “that guy.”
Yikes! Did I really make that promise?
I think I need to make a few more confessions.
Confession 1: I haven't stopped complaining about companies online. And I have no plans on stopping. Consider me "off the wagon," and I’m doubling up on complaints.
Why? Because when it works, when I find a company that isn’t asleep at the social wheel, I get exactly what I want.
What I realize now is that social media customer service works the way ALL customer service should. The responses are swift, the representatives polite, and the resolutions almost always fair.
What if businesses treated every service issue as if the entire world could peek in? And how much more customer loyalty is being earned by the few companies getting it right today?
I can honestly say I still support every business that has treated me well online (in fact I can list them off the top of my head, if you’re ever interested.) Even better, I’d be willing to bet a good chunk of my personal network knows who these companies are. (Hint: I mentioned some of them in a post on this very blog a while back.)
Confession 2: I’m a bit scared for the people of my profession. I fear we’re set up for a lot of suffering.
We’ve finally made headway in convincing the C-suite that social media is a worthwhile investment. Now we have to do the same for online customer service – and not just basic “acknowledging, responding, passing off,” but taking the kind of rectification steps that inspire a customer to share their newfound joy with their networks.
We have to bring online customer service into the boardroom to prove the value of customer investment. As is evident by the quality of most contact center experiences, customer service isn’t seen as a high priority by many executives. Social media types have to work with customer service to communicate the economic possibilities – namely, the lifetime value of a customer PLUS the potential conversion of their networks.
Social media is viewed as largely a marketing channel. As I've said for years now, it’s time to stop branding and start bonding. But that’s not what many are wanting to hear.
We’re mostly PR and marketing types by trade, but there will have to be some sales work done by my fellow social managers. Good luck.
Confession #3: I rubberneck at social media disasters. Work in social media long enough and you’ll experience an angry mob, or at least a small uprising of disturbed Tweeters. I’ve been there a couple times, and it’s the worst. That’s my cheap justification for gawking every time a brand has an online meltdown. I feel awful when it isn’t the social media manager’s fault, but it makes me thankful to be part of an organization that goes out of its way to make things right for hundreds of loyalty program clients and their millions of members using our discount programs.
There, I feel better already. At the end of the day, this is all still taking shape. Companies will eventually come en masse to online customer service, but as we’re seeing, some of them will be dragged there by angry mobs. In the meantime, some companies are knocking it out of the park. Do you have a great social media customer service experience? Let us know in the comments.