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Don't Do Social Customer Service

Ok, ok, I got you in with a dramatic title. Now I’m going to tell you that I’m just kidding, right?


I don’t think you should do social customer service. Or at least many of you.

31% of consumers say companies miss their expectations with service. That’s through their EXISTING service channels, not new ones.

If you’re not hitting customer expectations, why would you expand that failure to other channels?

"Well," you might say. "Twitter is supposed to be a powerful customer service channel."

The reason that social media is so popular for customer service is simple: customers know they can expect better, faster responses from social media teams. They probably already tried your existing channels and found them lacking.

Comcast Cares was hugely successful not because it was social media...it was hugely successful because it actually provided good support. Unlike the rest of Comcast.

Twitter is NOT a good channel for customer service. There are limited characters, you can’t always private message someone, you may not have CRM information, etc. If you had to choose one customer service platform, I can’t imagine you’d choose Twitter!

Yes, people are complaining about your brand on Twitter. It would be great to respond to them before that frustration goes viral. But do you know why they’re complaining? Probably because they were one of those 31% of consumers who felt you missed their expectations.

Yes, you should be where your customers are. But the first place many of them are is contacting you via your support email address and phone number. Do that right...then move over to Twitter.

Yes, I think social media is a wonderful and powerful tool. But remember that great service is about how you treat people, not what tool you use.

So before you dive into social media support, take a good look at your existing customer service channels. Are they performing well? Do you have good MPR (minutes per resolution), not just a good response time? Do the majority of surveyed customers say your team sufficiently assisted them? Are your support employees happy and empowered? If so, then congrats...and feel free to expand into social media!

Evan Hamilton is Head of Community at UserVoice, the San Francisco-based startup that empowers companies to help and understand their users, keep them happy with great support, and be even smarter about building better products. Evan leads efforts on UserConf and the UserCentered blog, amongst other things. In his spare time, Evan likes to argue about the future of community management and play americana music as Kicking Tuesday.

You can contact UserVoice at [email protected] or me at @evanhamilton

Evan Hamilton is Head of Community for UserVoice.