who owns social? everyone...
exectweets : it's not the golden ticket

social support : is it a solution or a stopgap?

2767676288_07b714e339_o 2008 and 2009 have seen the growth of social product support. 

  • Experiencing a problem with Comcast?  You can reach them on Twitter
  • Have a problem with Dell?  Just write a blog post or shoot them a tweet, they are there to help. 
  • Need advice on a home repair?  Just shoot The Home Depot a tweet.  disclaimer: THD is a client.

But what happens when there is a disconnect?  What happens when traditional product support is far from satisfactory?  Are we telling customers that they are better off going through Twitter than through our traditional channels?  Is this a scalable or sound solution in the long run?  Is this the future of customer support?

Case Study : Comcast
My grandmother was overseas on vacation for 6 weeks.  Her apartment was empty.  When she returned, her Comcast bill stated that three adult films had been purchased on her account.  A handful of phone calls later, Comcast still refused to remove these films from her bill.  Rather, their only solution was to offer her a $10 a month discount for the next 3 months.  I would bet that this wouldn't have happened had this conversation happened on Twitter.  This wouldn't have required repeat phone calls, demands to speak with supervisors, hours of frustration or the offensive accusation that a woman with strongly traditional values ordered pornogaphy.  It would have been solved.

Case Study : at&t wireless
I have had a similar experience with at&t wireless.  Their retail location sold me a phone with claims of features it simply didn't have.  Their phone support was frustrating to the point of hanging up.  Their retail employee asked me if I spoke English, and the manager told me I was wasting my time by even looking for a solution.  Yet their agency (via Twitter) was able to connect me with a representative who was far more personal, professional and solution-oriented (though I still can't get that iPhone).

Is this the future of customer service?
Is social support easier, more scalable, or more effecient?  Are we really better off offering mediocre traditional support and fantastic social support? 

  • Is social support preffered because of the obvious social advocacy potential?
  • Or would it just be easier to solve people's issues the first time around?