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Excellent post. It all comes back to integrating social media policy/marketing in to your overall company policy - not having it as a seperate division.

It's imperative your online customer service matches your telecoms, face-to-face and all other customer service channels you operate. Brand consistancy should be the top priority in all public actions your company takes - social media should not be treated differently to this.

That being said, the heightened level of personalisation and standard of customer service within Social Media should be used to drive the other channels forward - the resolution is not to drag Social Media interaction back to meet previous impersonal standards.

What a great post. I actually just posted the reverse story--about how a company (Talbots) was so great in their customer service that even though it took a while to resolve my issue, I never once got the itch to fuss about it on social channels (for anyone interested: http://www.mediabullseye.com/mb/2011/01/why-i-don%E2%80%99t-btch-about-stuff-on-twitter.html )

I've long railed against the negative reinforcement responding differently in social channels than regular channels provides. It can take a while to turn a large ship around (big companies) but in the long run it is a far more cost-effective proposition to fix customer service at the point of entry for *most* customers than it is to provide a different tier of service to those who complain in social channels.

Companies are essentially directing customers with problems to go to their most expensive response teams first--this makes no sense to me at all.

[Special attention online] sends the message that when all else fails, complaining publicly will get to a resolution, and it usually does.

Yes, yes and yes!

As much as companies want to look at social as a marketing channel, it's very origin is as a disruptive force. Go back to Cluetrain...go back to BBS and the early days of blogs...it wasn't about marketing. It was about "You're not hearing me!" It was about people helping people because companies WOULDN'T help.

As a guy who writes his own paycheck, I risk leaving money on the table when I explain this to brands. They want me to show them how to use social to drive sales. But as a human being, I want companies to first fix the customer service problems that spawned social's rise in the first place.

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