Peter Himler, aka The Flack, has a great post today on the gap between how companies should be using social media to enhance customer service, and the reality of their continuing failure to do so.
Himler picks up a thread from TechCrunch co-editors Erick Schonfeld and Paul Carr took American Airlines to the cyber woodshed for issuing Tweets promising to resolve a customer service issue and then failing to deliver on the promise.
As I reported a while back, social media works best when marketing and customer service departments are able to share information and resolve complaints in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Few companies have mastered this feat, which is understandable considering the challenges involved in “hearing,” evaluating, routing and resolving every single complaint that hits the Internet. Especially if you’re a corporation the size of American Airlines.
Carr lambastes Corporate America for hiring “19-year-old, disaffected, invent-your-own-job-title millennials” to manage their social media programs, whose mission is to get complainers to take their issues private and out of the public’s view.
Out of sight, out of mind…until an aggressive complainer, whose problem is still not resolved, decides to call out Company X for not only its lousy customer service, but also its failure to make good on the promise to fix the problem.
The time has come for marketing and customer service to divide the labor and share responsibilities for social media. One should focus on promoting the brand and the other should be responsible for responding when the brand fails to live up to the promise in the eyes of an angry customer.
How this would work in a garden variety multi-billion dollar corporation, where different departments are often housed several floors apart, or in different buildings or in different hemispheres, is a major challenge.
Especially when social media responsibilities are deemed unimportant enough to be placed in the hands of someone who could—oh, I don’t know—drop a curse word into the corporate Twitter feed.
Social media can be a powerful tool for marketing and customer service…if you have the guts to make the investment and integrate these important functions through one seamless interface.