There can’t be anyone reading this who hasn’t heard about social media being used as a new channel for customer service.  Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – all of these channels are being used by consumers to engage (or broadcast to) companies.

 So what’s in it for customers and companies when they use social media?

 Companies:  Consumer’s habits are changing, there are a whole generation of people for whom using the phone is the last option, so to reach out to and engage with this generation, then companies must use new channels.

 Consumers: The power of influence – where as interactions with a company used to be a 1-2-1 relationship, now, any interaction is very public.  It’s not just a company’s call recording system that is listening now, all of a consumers followers on Twitter, or friends on Facebook get to see comments about a company.  These extra ears or eyes help increase the influence of the consumer’s message

 So should we stop all investment in ‘traditional’ customer service channels and focus all our efforts on social media?  No, would be the short answer.  If I look at examples of the power of social media

Lord Sugar tweeting about BT
Youp van’t Hek’s campaign on Klantenserivce
David Carroll’s YouTube video

There is a common thread uniting all of these.  They didn’t start on social media – they started on a traditional customer service channel, the contact centre.  Only when these people didn’t get the service they expected did they escalate to a channel with a very wide influence.  So the lesson for companies is clear – every interaction, on any channel now has the power to influence your brand, positively or negatively.  Keep investing in your traditional channels, trust your people to say the right thing, and empower them to solve customer issues.  That way, when consumers comment about your company on social media, you have a much greater chance of it being a positive experience.