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Who NOT To Listen To About Customer Service Improvements by Robert Bacal

Social media has provided anyone who wishes to expound on customer service (and many other topics) regardless of their expertise, experience or agendas. This makes it more difficult for businesses to get a handle on who they should be listening to in terms of what they should be offering their customers.

Why? Putting aside the issue of competence, and there's no way to assess anyone's contributions made through social media, there are two issues that should all but rule out any business taking seriously what is said about customer service by "experts" on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Who SHOULD you listen to when it comes to customer service and YOUR business?

Often the loudest, easy to find voices are the ones least qualified to help you.

Agendas and Perspectives In the Customer Service Industry

We all have agendas, hidden or in the open, that affect what we do and say. Some topics tend to gather more people with very strong agendas than other topics. Any topic for which average people have extensive experience (e.g., education, health issues, social media, learning, and yes, customer service) tend to attract commentators who have experience with ONE perspective. For example:

Many people have experience with receiving medical care, being customers, going through the educational system and so on. That doesn't make them experts in providing medical care, how to provide customer service within a business, or, how to teach or run a school system.

Because people tend to have strong opinions on these topics, they tend to believe they have an understanding of most aspects of the topic. Many don't know what they don't know, because they have never been "on the other side", or worse, they don't care to know.

That may not be a problem until those people begin to present themselves as a) experts of all aspects of customer service, and b) LOUD commentators on customer service.

Passion is useful, but passion without a full understanding about the topics to which the passion is extended, is not useful.

Most of the people you see trying to "improve customer service" via comments on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, or on blogs have an agenda that comes from the perspective of the customer. Their viewpoints are biased, and unbalanced to the extent that following their advice could well damage a business. Posts made by people with strong agendas about customer service that have little to do with business success then become like propaganda. Worse yet, customer service propagandists gather together so it appears that their one-sided views are majority views.

Expert on What?

The second issue is about who you come across in the social media space. If you go to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Blogs on customer service, who are you likely to stumble upon? Are you going to find opinions and positions put forth by true recognized experts in the customer service field, however that might be defined? Or, are you going to come across people who's skills like in the use of social media to market?

Perhaps it's unfair to label those who's voices are strong in social media as inexpert in customer service issues, but it IS true that:

The loudest, most visible voices about any topic, expressed via social media platforms, are not necessarily the experts on the topic. They are, indeed more expert in using social media than voices you don't hear.

On any topic the true experts tend (there are exceptions) NOT to participate on social media. Most participation, if it exists at all, is done by ghost writers and staff, OR it's very infrequent. There's a number of reasons for that, but of course the most obvious is time. Recognized experts in fields other than marketing and selling don't have to spend their time on social media, and neither do they want to spend their time on social media, because the qualities of the interactions are too poor to sustain interest and/or the formats and restrictions eliminate intelligent discussion.

Ouch! I know. Think this through though. How many world class authors and consultants do you come across on Twitter? Or on any social media platform? How many eminent doctors, scientists, lawyers, researchers? Not many. How many CEO's? A few, but not many. How many true thought leaders who have lead in their professions for at least a decade? Not many.

Recognized experts in fields other than marketing and selling don't have to spend their time on social media, and neither do they want to spend their time on social media, because the qualities of the interactions are too poor to sustain interest and/or the formats and restrictions eliminate intelligent discussion.

The simple reality is that the majority of people you could learn from on most topics are not participating much on social media. Who is participating? Research shows that by far the largest group of highly active participants is social media are marketers, MLM people, and sales people.

Conclusion: Who Should You Listen To On Customer Service Issues, and Who Not

Obviously you can listen to whomever you like, and who is most likely to strike a chord with you. Be aware, though, that in most fields, and this includes customer service, the thought leaders, the true innovators and thinkers are NOT spending their time on social media venues. Of course, there are exceptions, but not many.

Those that have the loudest voices over which you stumble upon over and over again are more expert in promotion and marketing (not a small feat) than in customer service. If you rely on these folks, you will get a biased, and completely inaccurate view of the subject. In fact, you'll get a viewpoint contaminated with agendas you probably don't share, and suggestions that may damage your business.

So who DO you pay attention to? Look for people who are presenting at conferences, do true research without conflict of interest issues (most research "companies" in customer service suffer from conflict of interest), have published books with reputable publishers (i.e. AMANET, McGraw-Hill), and have an ability to look at customer service from a business perspective, rather than the "customer's perspective".

A few final tips. Actively seek out people who have views that differ from the ones you already hold. Seek to disprove what you believe.

If you want to learn about customer service improvement via social media, here's a hierarchy of credibility. Forget Twitter. Twitter's format pushes away most true experts in most fields. Best of the three big ones is LinkedIn, but the nuggets are surrounded by the chaff (i.e. marketing attempts).

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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