So it was disappointing to learn that social media companies rank badly when it comes to customer service. Analytics company ForeSee released a report last week that ranked the social media industry overall at 69 out of 100, beating only airlines, subscription television service, and newspapers.
We all know how it feels to deal with an airline after a bag goes missing or a flight is overbooked, and most people have felt the frustration of spending hours on the phone to a cable company when the password needs resetting.
How did nimble startups (many of which are big companies now of course) fall to these depths of crappy customer service?
An article in The New York Times suggests it’s the lack of human interaction in these companies’ customer service that’s the problem. Quora will help you find the answer to almost anything, except for its own telephone number; Twitter and Facebook insist their users only interact with them digitally; while LinkedIn deters its customers from calling with a long and arduous phone tree. Many customers prefer the digital forms of communication of course. They’d rather source the answer from a forum, from other users in the Twitter-sphere or via email.
But what if you just want to speak to a real person?
We think that a real people should be there to answer the phone. Not in a call center, but someone from the company who knows the product inside out. Someone with the knowledge to answer a question and the autonomy to solve a problem.
Granted, there is a difference between a social media company and a financial services company – one manages your money, which is hugely important; the other is a free service based on user-generated content. To an extent, I understand why these rapidly growing companies are taking customer service in this direction, but I hope it doesn’t become the norm.
After all, social media can be thanked for making big companies accountable, and many have improved their customer approach as a result. It would be a shame for tech companies to become the organizations they originally showed up.
Most startups are based on a mission to do things better. Let’s continue that tradition.