Tagged: customer service

Social customer service: it is ‘legitimately difficult’ (Social Media Today webinar)

Last week I tuned-in to a Social Media Today webinar about customer service.  One of the participants was Dave Evans (@evansdave) from Lithium.  He had a number of interesting charts which made clear the extent to which customers or consumers now have an expectation that brands will be able to deliver an on-line respond to their specific issues and question – especially in terms of response to Twitter questions.  No great surprises here, I wrote this about the future of customer service back in 2009, but it is good to finally see this sort of thing hitting the mainstream.

However there was one thing he said that stood out – and which I will surely drop into all of my talks and presentations.  He said this stuff is ‘legitimately difficult’.  I loved that.  Obviously he has an interest in suggesting this because if something were easy, why would you spend a lot of money with Lithium doing it?  But he is right.  The easy thing to do in social media is simply fill-up the void with industrial quantities of content.  The difficult thing to do is listen and respond to your customers.  But if a brand wants to operate in the social digital space – that is what it is going to have to do, no two ways about it (as this study from Edelman clearly demonstrates).

Brands have to recognise that they are increasingly operating within the community of their customers.  A community is not an audience and you can’t treat it as such by pushing messages at it.  A community is something you have to listen and respond to.  It is why social media is a behaviour identification and response challenge, whereas traditional (audience-based) marketing is a channel and message (reach and frequency) challenge.  Traditional media is a medium of distribution: social media is a medium of connection.  Traditional media is high reach but low engagement: social media is low reach but high engagement (if you do it properly).

But many brands still don’t get this.  They are pursuing brandfill strategies which, to paraphrase Dave, are ‘ illegitimately easy’.

Eurostar: good traditional customer service, poor social customer service

FailureI use Eurostar in many of my social media training sessions and presentations as an example of an organisation that (still) hasn’t really got social media.  The reason for this is that while their traditional customer care may be quite good, it hasn’t yet worked out how to do real-time customer care, using social media.

I use a couple of examples: one is an instance of lack of response to some rather poor food I was once served (see this post) and the other is in relation to a horrible delay I experienced nearly a year ago.  The issue, in both cases, is that fact that Eurostar are not doing the number one thing any organisation needs to do first in social media: listening to their customers and responding in real time. Continue reading

Is Ryanair right to eschew social media?

FireShot Screen Capture #127 - 'Ryanair's new comms chief to eschew social media I PR & public relations news I PRWeek' - www_prweek_com_uk_bulletin_prweekukdaily_article_1168936_ryanairs-new-comms-chief-eschew-sociaPR Week in the UK is running this story about the decision of Robin Kiely,  Ryanair’s new head of comms to to dismiss the value of social media engagement.  Is he right to do this?  Absolutely, in my opinion.  Ryanair is an organisation that has been hugely successful despite a studious disregard for customer service.  I am fond of contrasting the corporate stories of Ryanair and easyJet.  The story of the later is “you only pay for what you want” and the story of the former is “you only get what you pay for”.  In this respect, Ryanair is being absolutely true to it corporate story.

Kiely is quoted in the article thus:

‘A Facebook account would not be helpful to us, as we would have so many people looking for a response.’

He called the social network a ‘two-way tool’ and said maintaining a dedicated account would probably mean ‘hiring two more people just to sit on Facebook all day’.

‘If customers want to get in touch, the methods are there,’ he added, referring to the brand’s customer care line.

Spot on.  A dedicated Facebook account would mean hiring two people just to sit on Facebook all day.  For most organisations this would be a productive use of two people’s time because: a) it would demonstrate that the organisation takes its customers seriously and, b) it would provide the organsiation with valuable intelligence about what its customers want.  But Ryanair is not ‘most organisations’.  It is the exception which proves the rule when it comes to customer service.

In many ways this approach to social media is less insulting, and less ineffective, than the approach of many organisations who simply outsource the management of their Facebook presence to an agency,  At least Kiely recognises that you need to put dedicated people onto managing Facebook, and better to promote the customer care line upfront, rather than respond to Facebook enquiries with a standard “Thanks for you question, please call our customer care line on this number” response.

Co-incidentally, Rynair was discussed in the SMTLive webinar on ‘Marketing and Customer Service’ organised by Social Media Today on Tuesday – i.e. before Kiely’s statement. You can download the audio here.   It was a good session (as have been all the recent SMT webinars in recent weeks – I recommend you sign-up).  I think it was  either Frank Eliason (he of former @ComcastCares fame)  or Carol Borghesi who made the point that effective customer service is all about being “true to who you are.”  And that, or course, is exactly is what Ryanair is doing.

(But I would still always prefer to fly easyJet – provided, of course, that they can get me where I want to go, when I want to go there, from an airport I want to fly from, at a competitive price.  And therein lies the rub.)