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Social Media Customer Service is a Failure!

Social Media Customer Service is a Failure!

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Published by Brian Solis
Part three in a series introducing The End of Business as Usual…Written by Frank Eliason (@frankeliason)
Part three in a series introducing The End of Business as Usual…Written by Frank Eliason (@frankeliason)

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Published by: Brian Solis on Feb 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By Brian Solis, industry-leading blogger at BrianSolis.comand principal of research firm Altimeter Group, Author of the highly acclaimed books on social businessThe End of Businessas Usual and 
Part three in a series introducing The End of Business as Usual …Written by Frank Eliason@frankeliason )
Certainly not a statement you would expect to hear from the person formerly known as@ComcastCares, but I think it is an important perspective to consider if we are to build stronger relationships with customers. As I look around I see many interesting aspects of social media fromlarge and small businesses. and I am very excited to see companies trying new things to reach their customers. But we are now moving in a new direction and I think too few see it yet.Today I am SVP of Social Media for Citibank (of course thoughts here are my own). I have had theprivilege to see the impact social media can have on big businesses and I look forward to watchingthis come to reality. A few key observations I have had are:- It all starts with trust- Stories are the most powerful way to create & reinforce change- Human connections are against the grain for many businesses, but imperative for social mediasuccess- Many people are trying to make money off business leaders who do not understand social media(and they are being successful at it)
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
- We are so stuck on measurements, yet we are measuring the wrong thingsI sometimes refer to the last twenty years in business as the Jack Welch era. While he is a businessleader whom I have tremendous respect for, I also believe times are changing. Companies havebeen striving to focus on greater levels of metrics. For those who study Six Sigma, you have seen itfirst hand. When I first learned the Six Sigma process I was very excited. It was not about opinion,but instead where the metrics guided you. I completely understand why executives loved it. Whatmany did not realize is those running the projects typically chose metrics that told the story theywanted to tell.I am seeing the same trouble with social media today. People are focusing on the completely wrongmetricsand not properly educating executives on the real story of social media. Today, companiesare focusing on metrics such as ‘likes,’ fans, followers, etc. These metrics tell you nothing of substance. Few companies tie this information directly to their Customers through measurementssuch as the net promoter score of the social Customer, what products they are buying, etc. Mostcompanies proclaim to be ‘listening’ in the space but very few have changed or implementprocesses or products based on this listening. Huge ROI can be gained just by measuring changesthat stem from listening. It’s sad to say, but the only changes I have seen are those due to large or threatening groundswells. And in my view, change was only made to silence the noise.It is easy to pick on businesses where problems play out in social media. After all, it’s there for everyone to witness. The fact is that every business, large or small, can find out useful informationvia social media. It’s not just about listening, it’s about gaining insights and intelligence. It should nottake a groundswell of any proportion to get people within your organization to start to think about theConsumer. The world as we know it has already shifted. This is indeed the end of businessas usual, but few are willing to admit it.It’s not just the lack of intelligence or powers of observation that fail businesses. Traditionalmarketing is not as effective as it once was perceived to be. When I do watch TV, I tend to fast-forward passed commercials. I ignore virtually everything that enters my mailbox. When I am online,I, like you, pay more attention to what I am looking for or reading than digital ads. When I do go tobuy a product, also like you, read reviews on websites like Amazon or I ask my social graph for their thoughts. The pendulum has shifted!This brings me to the failure of social service. The other day someone tweeted me asking aboutcurrent costs of phone calls versus the cost per Tweet for customer service. Ugh! This is new mediaand yet we’re already focusing on old metrics. The truth is that the service world has been broken for years because of the emphasis of handle time or calls per hour. Companies do not want to talk toyou, and it shows. The fact is most do not want to Tweet with you either. Since they are worriedabout brand sentiment, they may appease you to shut you up. Sorry, shutting your customer up isnot customer service and trying to expedite resolution isn’t a metric for the new world of consumer influence.Many businesses run new media efforts through PR or marketing. I have even seen a few that runsocial media through their outside marketing agencies (talk about being close to the customer).Anyway, I have tried a few of these out over the years. My view is that these disconnectedbusinesses are attempting to placate consumers, to minimize or eliminate the complaint. In order for social media service to scale, change MUST happen. Companies must care. New metrics mustsurface that place the customer back in customer service.I do not get a sense however, that much has changed in the way businesses run, no matter howengagedin social media they are today. This is not because the scaling is not possible, because for 
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis
the most part you can queue up a tweet just as easily as you queue up a call. The trouble is theefforts are not leading to wholesale change in the way companies interact with their customers. If you are simply placating loud customers, all you are really doing is encouraging others to focus onthe channels where they believe resolution awaits.What people failed to see regarding the Dell or Comcast success stories in the early social mediadays, is the amount of work that went on behind Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The truetransformation of these businesses what not in taking to social network, but instead building the backend to start fixing the problems that created negative experiences in the first place. In my list above,I mention the power of stories, and both Dell and Comcast utilized these online conversations or stories to help drive improvements. I am sure both companies will admit that this is an ongoingprocess and that wholesale change does take time.Social media is creating change in how businesses conduct themselves and placing stillunderestimated power in the hands of consumers and employees. If you truly want to influencebrand perception, companies must:- Empower employees (they are the life blood and the greatest ambassadors for your brand)- Improve the customer experience, not just through service, but the entire experience with your company (please note I did not limit that to products or departments because most businesses areone brand)- Be more nimble and not so stuck on processes that prevent change- STOP being afraid of your customer! If anyone is afraid to speak to a Customer, you are doing thewrong things- STOP minimizing the value of your customer! They are more influential to you in the post-commerce phase than you can imagine.As Brian says in the next book,the brand of your business is the culmination of shared experiences. And as a result, we are entering a time when business will change dramatically. It already has in theeyes of the consumer, but few executives have connected the dots. The bottom line is thatbusinesses need to have wholesale improvements over the way they interact with customers. Thischanges is currently being driven by the customer, but it also must be driven by empoweredemployees who want to see success in their business and processes that support transformationand adaptation.How do you drive change at your business?Is your business afraid of the Customer?Do people within your company want nothing to do with the Customer Service department, or evenworse, look down on it?I personally love the customer; they are my passion and success. I represent them in everything Ido. I use their stories to drive change. It is something you may want to do to.#AdaptorDie
(cc) Brian Solis,www.briansolis.com- Twitter, @briansolis

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