I have been wondering lately if we have we reached the point where companies are expected to have an online customer service presence. Are companies being held accountable in new and different ways? If I, as a customer, post a message in a discussion forum about a company or a product, should I expect that company to answer me or weigh in on the discussion? What about on more public or ubiquitous social media sites like Twitter or Facebook – can I expect to be able to reach companies using those tools? Where does a company’s social media accountability begin and end with their customers?
Here is a real example to illustrate my question. I am a B2B customer of AirTrain Airlines and I had a customer service need. After spending a long time on hold on the telephone, I naturally turned to the online channel to discover alternative ways to interact with AirTran. The must have a Twitter account. I thought. And sure enough, AirTran Airlines has quite a few Twitter accounts available:
Next I noticed that there was one deemed the “Official AirTran Twitter feed.” Hurray! I thought – that is great as now I don’t need to guess which one to use. And they have over 4,000 followers. Again, good news… until I noticed that since creating the account in 2009 they have only produce 1 tweet.
- What are the best channels online to reach engage and respond to customers?
- What is your social customer strategy? Reactive, proactive, messaging only, responsive
- Whose is going to do it? Marketing or customer service today – but what about long term?
- And, the big question – what are you going to do with the information exchanged between your company and your customer? Will the data be captured and logged in your CRM (like phone calls are especially in the B2B world as customers represent larger purchases than with B2C) so you have a profile of your customer or will you leave the social channel un-integrated for now?
The seas are changing as customers increasingly adopt social media. Customers are online seeking to interact with your company. There will always be situations that are best handled by phone or in-person vs. via the social channel. Few would argue that social media will replace all forms of customer care. But, if companies were to focus their highly transactional exchanges to online there is a win-win for all: Potential cost reduction for the company and frustration reduction for the customer who now gets the information and interactions they want on their terms. So to return to the original question, where does a company’s social media accountability begin and end with their customers? What do you think?