May 4, 2012
It amazes me how many social media and customer service pundits gush about the need to master web-based social customer service along the periphery, even as basic frontline customer service quality languishes.
Best Buy, XFINITY (formerly Comcast), and AT&T are great examples of companies who aspire to garner reputations as leading social customer service providers. To their credit, whenever I have tweeted about a service issue, they have been responsive in the social media space. Even so, the quality of their frontline customer service (that touches the customer directly, in person or over the phone, as opposed to cryptic 140-character conversations on Twitter) continues to lag.
Here are three recent service issues I’ve had with the above companies: Best Buy, Worst Service, XFINITY customer service: Posture versus performance, and Enough! (Only for the truly ambitious reader! You don’t have to read them for the rest of this post to make sense.)
In each case, abysmal customer service by a frontline employee resulted in the involvement of a social customer service representative. I can assure you that, regardless of their effectiveness, my preference would have been to not involve social customer service representatives.
Instead, I would have appreciated having my television installed on-time by Best Buy as promised, to have had the XFINITY rep credit the $4.99 movie charge to my account as requested, and for the AT&T rep to have strayed from her script long enough to simply verify whether or not she could hear my wife clearly.
Social customer service is simply one channel by which a company can connect with its community of customers, prospects, vendors, etc. And no matter what future platforms technology may provide us with, although likely convenient and efficient, they will not compensate for broken commitments, indifference towards customers, and adversarial frontline employees.
I’m not a Luddite. While I admit to being befuddled by the arrangement of binary numbers that produce the innovative social media technology we enjoy today, I understand its usefulness in providing supplemental channels through which to service customers.
Still, companies should not lose sight of the importance of customer service basics (that don’t require an Internet connection) such as: honoring commitments, being responsive, anticipating needs, paying attention to detail, and following up—in their quest for higher Klout scores.
I welcome all questions, comments, bouquets, and brickbats.