Just a hammer. Image via Wikipedia
Walking through midtown this morning, Jeff Pulver's 140 Characters Conference is still on my mind. I had many folks agree with me that just because Twitter is hot now doesn't mean it's the right tool, or even a good tool, for many businesses. Ditto for social media- you're not going to get anywhere just by betting that Twitter and Facebook will save the day when the public ignores your ads and hates your microsites. "Enter the conversation" the evangelists say. But what will you say?
Social media is great when it brings out the real people in an organization and puts them next to customers and prospects for a conversation.
Social media is not code for "people waiting for my brand to tell them to spam their friends."
Consumers aren't any more interested in spamming their friends with your message than they are in watching TV ads with the same tagline.
The quality of conversation is not a social media problem, it is a business problem. Putting a happy smiling "conversation" on a truly awful business situation won't resolve the business problem, and this fact transcends twitter or facebook or any tool du jour. Does your firm listen to its customers? Does it care about their experience with your product?
A webinar invite from Convergys detailed the following results from their research about communication service providers:
• More than 67% of subscribers value first call resolution and knowledgeable agents
• More than 41% of subscribers will stop doing business with a company without telling the company why – but they will inform their friends and neighbors
The customer service experience is a business problem that many telecommunications and cable companies struggle with- but putting your best social media people on reach out to the aggrieved minority who speak up will not fix the customer service experience that was broken in the first place!
So the question you should ask yourself is, do you want to hit the same old nail with a new hammer, or do you want to change who is swinging it and how it's swung? Gary Vaynerchuck's "scaling caring" idea is an interesting way of putting it, and gets at some part of the problem- if you cannot or will not change your level of caring for your customer, no amount of social media involvement will fix your company.
Check out how @zappos handles their customer service and brand presence on Twitter, and you'll find that behind the social media is a company that knows how to swing a hammer on behalf of their customers.