In my post "Persistence in an art," Econobiker posted a comment that I thought begged for further coverage. "Comcast is famous for crappy customer service," he says by way of example. "Get a phone droid and you are usually up the creek. Yet they have dedicated people who monitor Consumerist.com, ComcastMustDie.com, and Twitter for complaints. These people can apparently cut through the B/S in order to keep good public relations and avoid bad-news reporting."
That's a good point. From the tales I have heard recently, social media may very well be emerging as one of the best hacks in the customer service and tech support game.
But I know a lot of people are still trying to decide how they feel about Twitter and other microblogging and social media tools. So this comment inspired me to explore just how thoroughly tech support departments have embraced the social Web as a means of reaching around traditional means of helping to customers. I use Twitter frequently to get quick answers to questions for this blog -- and lots of other projects. And I know a lot of you do, too. But do customer service and tech support departments use it to reach past long hold times, time-consuming phone conversation, and e-mail quagmires to shoot quick responses to customers who are savvy enough to use it?
I reached out to my peeps on the social Web and asked.
The response I got was so overwhelming, so informed, and so enlightening that I have decided to do more than a blog post on this. I'm going to do a series. Over the next few weeks -- mixed in with the usual gripes -- I will occasionally take an in-depth look at what companies are doing on this front. I will also showcase some examples of how service in the realm of social media is working -- or not working.
This is not really a digression from the gripes. (So you can stop penning that nasty note about how this column is "FOR GRIPES ONLY.") The biggest gripe I hear from all of you is "Customer service sucks hard these days." But when I sent my social media question out via social media, I heard back quickly, instantly even -- from customers and companies -- stories of outstanding service found without long hold times or huge hassles. It gave me hope. Maybe the landscape is changing?