Why Social Media Actually Contributes To Worsening Customer Service
Q: You've commented that you believe social media will make customer service worse, overall. How can that be?
A: It seems counter-intuitive, I know, but if you have even a basic understanding of how business works, it makes sense. Let's deal with some realities here. Companies, particularly large ones, view customer service as overhead. It's not a profit center for them. It's a cost center, and as such they want to minimize the costs. You may disagree with that as a strategy but that IS the reality, and it's almost universal.
When companies have to "cover" communication in additional channels (let's say through Twitter, and Facebook, etc, in addition to non-social media methods), they have more things to do and more people to do them. Because the philosophy is cost reduction, companies don't tend to add to their customer service budgets. The existing resources are simply spread thinner, meaning that overall things get worse because there is the same number of employees doing more work and covering more channels.
Q: Ok. If that's the case, then why is there this big push on the part of companies to use social media for customer support?
A: Part of it is bandwagon jumping. Another is that they don't want to get left out and they don't quite get that you have to support new customer service channels with more resources/money to make it work. It's really not well thought out, at least for most companies.
Then there's the social media "thought leaders" who keep pushing this. It starts to get pretty clear that a lot of these people have little understanding of customer service within the context of running a business. They understand customer service from the position of the customer and how they think it SHOULD be, but they don't connect the financial realities to their commitment to customer service.
Let them put their own money to staff social media customer service channels, and you'll see how quickly they change their tunes, when it comes out of their pockets!