Why Bypassing the Customer Service Department is Bad
As a Customer Service department worker myself I felt compelled to offer some points that have been glossed over by the popular media in their willingness to support consumers who use Social Media to publicize problems in order to push companies to do almost anything to avoid negative publicity.
- A very small percentage of issues actually reach a company through social media channels and it takes skill, time and effort to get through to the boss. Consumers have probably got more enjoyable things to be doing really.
- When company bosses are forced to deal with individual consumer problems, they’re not doing something else, such as reviewing new products, improving sales offers, or other more positive things. It’s just not an effective use of their time.
- Hearing about exceptional cases where company bosses are involved in customer service often leads to invalid expectation setting, and makes the job for the Customer Service department much harder, as consumers think ‘why didn’t I get the same attention’.
- When company resources are used to fire-fighting the social media channels, other (normal) channels suffer. The alternative is to hire more people, which affects the bottom-line, and can ultimately affect product quality or price. You’re never going to get more for nothing.
- All Customer Service departments have managers, and they will have tried-and-tested procedures for escalating unresolved problems. Most of the time you just need to ask for this and they’ll get right on to it (but will not without asking).
Whilst obviously consumers are not lying about problems they had, (social) media skews the perception by offering details from one unfortunate case as a representative sample, whilst hundred or thousands of satisfied customers go completely unnoticed. If I was being resentful I could say its being used as a mild form of blackmail!
I do believe with more development and specialized tooling there will be some great new service channels here, however in the same way that online-chat never really took off in Customer Service delivery, I’m sceptical about social media’s role in its current form.