Tuesday 4 January 2011

Social Customer Service - proving you failed?

A great comment by Guy Letts to my previous post on Acquisition versus Retention made me write this one - the comment is only half an hour old but blew my mind:
There's another example of how ridiculous is the pursuit of NEW rather than getting the basics right. Some large companies now boast of their wonderful NEW customer service credentials by issuing PR showing staff with banks of screens monitoring Twitter and Facebook for complaints. This is a big FAIL in my view. Customers usually only resort to bad reviews out of frustration and when it has proved utterly impossible to contact the company directly to fix a straightforward problem.

It's like employing more moppers when the bathtub is overflowing, when you should be turning off the tap.
It made me think and tweet
.@_StuartLynn Isn't retention only a workaround to a perceived problem of attrition, and the solution within a change of company culture?
In Failure is the means to the goal of Success, I concluded with
Mistaking means for a goal is a common mistake. But mistaking the goal of Success for a means is the biggest mistake you can make
Same here: if your new approach in Aftersales is so fantastic, isn't that indeed really showing how much you were lacking in that area before?
And on second thoughts, of course your product can break down and people complain about it, but if it ROIs to dig out an entirely new channel to approach them, aren't your existing ones lacking beyond recognition?

That sheds an entirely new light on deploying social channels and then calling in the press, doesn't it? Maybe Guy has found the best business case against Social for 2011, even after I predicted that Social shifts the focus from Presales to Aftersales. Then again, Openness might bring about the much needed change there

If you come forward about your product not being perfect (how hard can that be really?) and your current Aftersales channels and processes not helping everyone as swiftly and conveniently (bis), you might just turn into a Leader By Example - maybe 2011 is the year where full transparency and openness are rewarded by a growing minority that will turn into a majority by 2012. Comcast fared well, I think, and so did a few others

I truly believe that the best area for now to apply social media is aftersales, and not presales. Notwithstanding the fact that you have a good product to begin with, and the processes and people in place to back it all up. If you don't it will even create bigger problems and messes for your company as well as your customers, severely damaging your product image.
Still, deploying another channel or two to while being able to scale will surely do some damage control - imagine the attrition rate if there wasn't any email or telephone as a medium

One thing is for sure: if there's a growing number of people knocking on your door but you won't let them in, they'll just go elsewhere - and spread the word about that as well

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