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Twitter is just another tool (like Snail Mail, E-mail, Phone, web-site) for interacting with your customers. But just because you create an account called @[mycompany]cares doesn't put you in the SCRM business. You may start poaching customer service issues gleaned from angry customers but without a service structure in place to support it you'll likely make matters worse (see my recent experience with Dell at blog.intelligistgroup.com).

Your point about @comcastcares really highlights the individual, not a process. While it shows value, that same level of customer service can and should be displayed by traditional Customer Service infrastructure. It's easy to show success when there are so (relatively) few Twitter users but the process a) won't scale, and b) is difficult to reproduce. Ask anyone who's tried to hire good customer service reps.

What I like most is what you have to say about customer service as a whole. Customer Service IS the new marketing. Social Media is forcing us to take a new look at a much maligned and perpetually underfunded department.

In any customer service experience whether offline or online via Twitter etc we need to still remember to show the customer not tell them! Ironically, seeing too much broadcast on social media platforms at the moment....

Nice post as always Valeria, some really poignant points!

Thanks

@Kyle - which also makes it an opportunity, doesn't it? It's not always doom and gloom. In fact, usually people are more polite when you're in the room, so to speak.

@Andy - it's often the customers who tip the scale in favor of addressing issues publicly, if the organization's customer service is broken. Most people I talk to would rather had a working toll free number, or chat button on a site... when that's not providing information or addressing the issue, that's when they take to public spaces. Imagine being out there with a human interest feed while your customers are not getting service. At that point it looks like you don't care or are just ignoring the issue. Does this make sense?

@Jeff - I remember when Tom Peters stated at a conference that "its not old until it's done!" so it does indeed take some training to be helpful in social media while assisting customers. Some people in your customer service group might be natural communicators, others may require some more attention. You want to manage customers and management expectations. And be realistic: a 24 hour wait on Twitter would probably not go well.

@Jeff D - having an established presence and credibility go a long way when issues crop up. I'm thinking about how Scott Monty handled the issue of controversial posts about Ford a year or so ago.

@Diane - thank you for adding to the conversation here with your research data and observations. Some of the smartest people in social media have a background that spans customer service for the reason you mention: the ability and training on resolution. However, I also find that a grounding in communications is of tremendous help as conversations can heat up quickly and you want to display poise and professionalism even as you embrace the customer issue and look to take it off line for resolution. Tome Twitter is short, fast, and get get to the point and to establishing a connection quickly.

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