I wrote a post last week in which I asked if social sites would kill corporate websites. My conclusion: Not any time soon, but companies must stay on top of the growing importance of social channels in Web presence. Not many companies appear to be seriously considering jettisoning their websites, but some do seem to be jumping the gun when it comes to customer service.
Bruce Temkin shares a recent experience with cable operator Comcast, a social media darling that nonetheless fares poorly in customer-service surveys, on his Customer Experience Matters blog. He wrote a less-than-complementary post about a new Comcast product offering, tweeted it and then straightaway was contacted by a Comcast representative who tried to change his opinion. He wrote:
So Comcast reaches out to strangers on Twitter, but doesn't service customers very well when they contact Comcast. Something seems out of whack.
I've written about this before. My take from a post titled "Social Support Only a Part of Bigger Customer Service Picture":
Companies that focus on providing customer service through social channels while neglecting more traditional avenues like company websites and call centers may drive themselves crazy trying to keep up with the growing numbers of channels, and it's ultimately a costly and inefficient way to address problems. Not only that, but you run a risk of further alienating customers if you don't respond quickly or empathetically enough or resolve situations to their satisfaction. It's annoying when a call center agent can't fix your problem; it may feel like a personal letdown when a Facebook "friend" can't do so.
Temkin gives this phenomenon a name I like, "social schizophrenia," and he defines it as "providing levels of service in social media that differ significantly from service levels in other channels." Compare Comcast to customer-service star Zappos. True, Zappos loves its Twitter. But Zappos employees provide the same exemplary customer service across every channel, including less sexy ones like the call center.
So, how do you know if your company suffers from social schizophrenia? Temkin offers a list of eight questions that may help yield a diagnosis:
Is there a cure? I shared several good tips from the Altimeter Group's Jeremiah Owyang in my Social Support post. And Temkin offers a nice, one-sentence summary: "Use social media to augment, not avoid, the delivery of great service."