Unless you live under a rock, you're aware of the myriad of companies using Twitter as one of their customer service channels. @comcastcares, @SouthwestAir, @RichardatDell, @twelpforce - the list is growing by the hour. Many companies are trying to copy these made-for-social-media-conferences-casestudies and squeeze their way into Social Media. They are busy creating Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and other Social Media initiatives, hoping to "listen", "engage" and "converse". But all this listening and conversing doesn't fix the real issue: Your product/service is terrible. And that's where you should focus on: improving your product/service. Not adding more Social Media platforms to your portfolio.
Case in point: Best Buy.
The retailer has received numerous write-ups about their Social Media initiatives, their @twelpforce and @bestbuyCMO have a strong presence on the Social Web and their Facebook page has more than 1.1 million "likes". Pretty impressive. But, after my last visit to a local Best Buy, I wonder: Are they listening? Or just hearing? Are they improving? Or just reacting? While Best Buy's social presence is impressive, their store experience hasn't changed over the years:
- Silos everywhere and requests for help are still being answered with: "I don't work in this department."
- The pressure by associates for extended warranties has increased dramatically.
- Calls/Emails for help are either left unanswered or end nowhere.
- The only way I can get in touch with someone helpful is through Social Media.
The reason why more and more people are resorting to Social Media to communicate their dissatisfaction with a brand is a symptom. It's a symptom that all other channels (Phone, Email, Chat) are basically a road to nowhere. Or lead to a phone bank in a country nobody can pronounce. Would you fix a dislocated shoulder with a flashy band-aid? Why do brands believe a dislocation of their customer service and experience can be repaired with a flashy Twitter band-aid?
You can have all the conversations in the world, have all Social Media pundits on your side, engage with your audience all day long. But if these conversations don't lead to changes in your products and services, why even bother? Do you want to be the star of the Social Media pundit circuit or do you want to make money by providing a product/service that delights people?
Businesses need to understand that extensive engagement on Social Media platforms discussing customer service issues should be seen as a symptom of a bigger problem. You can use Twitter as a platform to dive deeper and better understand the negative emotions related to your brand. You can even use Twitter as a temporary bridge to improvements in Customer Service since changing other customer channels (Email, Phone, etc.) often requires an extensive investment and re-allocation of budget. But you should never consider Twitter (or any other Social Media platforms) as THE solution to your real problem.