Many organisations fail to see the importance of becoming involved in social media. Some don’t see the relevance of it, others hide behind “we don’t have the resources” but whatever the reason for not becoming involved, it’s dangerous.
Traditionally, businesses focused on two communication channels: Business to business and business to customer. Social Media creates a powerful third channel: Customer to Customer.
Facebook, Twitter, and any number of blogs and online forums, allow customers to disclose and discuss their experiences with companies. And potential customers are relying more and more on testimonials and feedback from previous customers before buying. Ebay probably couldn’t exist without the buyer and seller feedback system.
Can companies afford to remain in ignorance about what customers and others are saying about them? Those dialogues about their organisation are happening – it’s a great source of information. The key questions are how to access that information and how to make use of it. In the context of customer service, a strategy needs to consider at least the following:
how to respond to negative feedback;
how to engage customers, and potential customers, in meaningful dialogue and who is responsible for those conversations;
how to respond to mobile platforms. It’s not just a matter of making their web site mobile friendly; customers with iphones can now go into a retail outlet, take a photo of a product, upload it and receive price comparison data and user feedback of product and of that retailer;
The problem appears to me to be that many social media consultants seem still to be at a stage where they are fascinated with the tools for their own sake whereas consideration of their application is in its infancy. Alan Stevens has written a useful article here about questions to use to try to establish the credibility of a social media consultant. The list provides a pragmatic approach to opening up a conversation, which then needs to dig deeper into the issues I’ve set out above. And I’ll bet that I’ve overlooked some key areas of a customer service/care strategy, so please, add your ideas!