Customer Service
Social media changes customer service landscape

Social media has forced openness and transparency in businesses that was not possible before. The power has shifted to the customer who can, if dissatisfied with the business, impact the business and brand very publically.

More and more companies has embraced social media to drive customer serviced to new levels and, in the process, validated social media a valuable tool with healthy ROI.

Before social media emerged as an option, many of these people wouldn’t have bothered to complain because it was too much of a hassle to call customer service, or send a letter or e-mail to the customer service department. As well, many of these problems weren’t really big enough to warrant a call, e-mail and letter anyway.

One of the issues, however, with how customer service has evolved within social media are the unrealistic expectations of consumers who have a problem with a product or service. What often happens when someone has a bad or less than stellar experience is they quickly turn to Twitter, Facebook or their blog to complain about it.

If their public complaint gets any kind of traction or publicity, most companies quickly cave in by immediately making things right with a refund, exchange or other compensation. This happens even if the problem is fairly minor because there seems to be more upside when a company is seen as being responsive in a public forum.

In the real world, a company may have come back with a polite response that they appreciated the feedback and will make sure the right people or department is notified. Or a company would offer some compensation but not provide something that is over the top.

The problem with caving in on social media is it does more harm than good by encouraging more people to complain as well because they see how easy it can be to get results. This has created a landscape in customer service has gone from productive and constructive to whining and complaining.

You could argue that social media is compelling companies to react appropriately because having things in the public realm make it more difficult to simply brush aside complains with a polite but curt letter or e-mail.

On the other hand, customer service on social media is becoming a monster that is becoming more difficult to tame. The more companies that concede defeat at the first sign of a complain, the worse it going to get.

What do you think about social media customer service? Are companies going too far in responding to complaints? Are consumers taking advantage of having a public forum to gripe?

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Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland View full profile

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