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Is there too much "me" in "social media"?

One of the fears big companies have with Social Media is that they will set expectations too high.  Give an immediate response, and the customer will begin to expect it.  I'm all for giving crappy customer service a kick in the pants, but this recent social media high-five that's being broadcast across Twitter that is a little disturbing to me.

JetBlue Twitterer Gets Customer a Wheelchair

In case you don't want to click the link, here is a synopsis.

a woman writes...

"@jetblue, I need a wheelchair!". 

the JetBlue person immediately texts back...

"Are you in an airport? shoot me a DM and let me see if I can help"

OK, first.  Excellent for JetBlue for getting on it.  Great customer service should be applauded.  But is this sustainable?  Someone had to read and respond, and other than avoiding being on hold, will this be staffed any better than their customer service on the phone?  A great outcome would have been if another citizen had chipped in to help too.  If thats the case than Iwould like to say ...

@starbucks "Latte's are too expensive"
@ImmigrationCanada whats with the freaking long lines for a passport
@IBM @Microsoft @Apple @anysoftwareonmycomputer.. stop freezing up
@haircut lady - I SAID NO GEL!

Right now, although those of us who work in social media think its a big audience, Twitter is somewhere between 1-2 million users (correct me if I am way off).  Unfortunately there are 1.5 billion internet users in the world, and well over 2 billion people with mobile phones. Lets say this catches on. If each and every person starts to believe they can simply shout something and get an answer from the company, I think we are heading for a fall.

I love this video "Everything is amazing, nobody is happy". 

What am I saying?

  • Brands/Companies -  you can do a better job and leverage social media to get closer to your customers, respond quicker, AND help customer help each other.  "Better" will depend on the company, the price of the product, the quality, the loyalty of their customers... etc

  • Brands/Companies -  bad news - crappy customer service will be broadcasted to the public in realtime

  • Brands/Companies -  good new - great customer service will be broadcasted to the public in realtime

  • People of the Planet Earth - Expect better, but reward good customer service.  Don't be a hater the second it doesn't go your way.

  • People of the Planet Earth - Help when you can.  Thats why its called "social" media. There is not nor will their ever be a customer service person dedicated for your use only. 
Yes indivuals weild more power than we did.  Lets not abuse it.

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I was at the new JetBlue terminal at JFK last week.  Overall, very nice.  However, I did have one concern, and knowing that JetBlue used twitter, I decided to text them a quick comment. Within minutes I had a response.

I have to tell you how satisfying it is as a customer to be able to do this.

  1. be able to voice my concern

  2. have someone acknowledge they heard. 

  3. tell me their plans to fix (if they can)

I think we forget that about customer service. #3 is nice, but you get a lot from #1 & #2.  Moments later at the same terminal I was going to get some breakfast. I assumed lots of new staff since the terminal just opened.  I sat down.  Waited.  I noticed the staff was clearly swamped.. but staff walked by me several times and said nothing.  I walked out.  Truth is that I knew service would have been slow and if they had simply said "We'll be right there, but we are a little behind with the rush" I would have read my paper until they came.  Without that, I had no idea if they even knew I was a new customer.

Why do I mention this?

Social media can be that conduit.  You don't have to answer every question.  By giving people a place to voice their concern you have accomplished 1 & 2.  Its even better though, because your other clients can step in and help.  Or those same clients can stand by you when you need support.  Customer to customer debate can be a lot healthier. 

Here's a recent personal example. I was using a "free version" of an online service
to test it out.  I had many questions and posted them in the support
forum.  Staff and customers were answering them so quickly that I
bought the service before I had finished the eval.  I felt like I was
in good hands and the "community" demonstrated to me that it was a safe
decision.  I had voiced some concerns about features that were missing, and other customers responded why that feature should be a low priority and how to get the same thing using an existing feature.

So get out their and embrace social media and delight your customers.

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