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The Myth of Going Where The Customers Are (Customer Service and Social Media)

There's a huge myth about the need to use social media to interact with and provide customer service to customers that is costing companies huge amounts of money while actually pushing customer service quality DOWNWARDS.

It's the myth that companies need to serve customers on all the new social media channels (which is impossible within an enterprise anyway), because that's where the customers are. But isn't it's common sense? With 700 million "customers" on Facebook, and millions of twitter accounts (not customers actually, but it's still compelling), it's not surprising that many people are taken in by the myth.

Location, Location, Location Does NOT Apply

In part the myth comes from the idea that businesses must be where the customers are, from the bricks and mortar world. If you have a retail store that's hard to get to, with no passing traffic, you have a major problem. In fact, in the bricks and mortar world, the wrong location means the end of the business.

But, why do social media and customer service activists think it applies when there is no "there, there". Technology isn't locale specific. It doesn't rely on casual traffic for business.

In fact, not only does it not apply but "going where the customers are" rather than communicating with your customers when and where they are most receptive is worse than doing nothing.

There's good research to show that customers do NOT want to be contacted often by companies on social media. In fact the survey research (which is always a little suspect) suggests contacts more than once a month might be too often.

If anything you need to find and deal with customers when they are receptive.

But Aren't They Receptive On Social Media?

No, actually not. People don't spend hours on Facebook in the hope of dealing with a company, or resolving a customer service problem. That's not why they are there. The same for LinkedIn and Twitter. Using those platforms when customers or potential customers are NOT there for that function, and just because there are a lot of users, is offensive and aggravating. It's like spam in email, most of which is ignored anyway.

Here's a simple example. If I sell ballet outfits, do I run commercials at the Superbowl? No. There's no receptivity there.

So What Do Customers Want?

Customers don't care "where" they are helped. Or at least most customers. They may have preferences but they are of minor strength that will not affect most businesses. That's because customers want convenience, no hassle, reasonably quick responses, and they are so desperate that they'll not care where or how that's done.

It's really that simple.

If companies simply made their other channels work (phone, email), social media would be a set of channels that would be largely unimportant. However, because traditional channels are used so badly, people think they will do better on social media, and that fuels the myth.

They use it in the hope it will be better. For the most part, social media advocates compare poor phone and email service against customer hope that social media will be better. It won't be.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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