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Social Media & customer service: Are you scalable?

2 min read

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There’s a running joke that you can get better customer service from @comcastcares than from your local Comcast customer service center. Over the past six months or so, that joke has become perceived reality—and the requests for help/service via Twitter have taken off. So beyond Frank Eliason’s first @comcastcares account, we now have @comcastbill @comcastbonnie @comcastgeorge, @comcastsherri, @comcaststeve, @comcastdete, @comcastkim, and @comcastscott.

There is no doubt that Comcast should be applauded for their early and progressive efforts in social media—but is this model truly scalable?  If the demand continues, and even more resources are allocated, who’s to say Comcast won’t be plagued by the same customer service issues that has given their call centers a bad name? Frank Eliason has a plan to utilize the appropriate tools, generate internal buy-in, and  hire/assign the right people—and smart businesses should take note.

Customer service is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, measurable and effective uses of social media. We can provide feedback quickly, much of which may apply to another customer’s problem, interact in a uniquely personal manner and show customer’s how much we value their input.  If a community has been created and effectively promoted, customers can interact with one another, discussing issues they may be having, sharing tricks, hacks and fixes that can help alleviate and drive down customer service costs.

These new tools offer immediate, public spaces to excel in customer service, but they also provide us with countless megaphones to broadcast our failures. With an eye on “getting in on social media,” companies often make the mistake of falling back on the same principles and human resource strategies that made their traditional customer service tired and ineffective.

Today’s smart businesses should identify the launch of a social media customer service program as an opportunity to start clean.

Hire the right people (maybe not so junior anymore) to execute your social media customer service programs and train them like official spokespeople. Like it or not, these people are now the frontline of your marketing and PR campaign(s).

Companies like Zappo’s, Qwest, HR Block are scaling their social media customer service programs in interesting ways. Who else is changing the game?