Lost in the Shuffle? Traditional Customer Service in a Social Media World

Over and over again, when someone talks about social media, most likely he or she is going to mention the fact that it allows consumers to become more engaged with a brand – it builds a connection. Yet, while social media allows for consumers to interact directly with a brand, and quickly in most cases, what does it mean for traditional customer service?

I admit; I cannot remember the last time I called an 800 number of a brand to voice a complaint. Instead, I take to social media. For example, this past week, I received a phishing email from Lucky Brand indicating that I had placed an order with them, which was not the case. I tried calling the company’s 800 number, but it was busy. So, instead I took to both Twitter and Facebook to try to figure things out. Unfortunately, the company did not respond to my Twitter post, but I found others who had been impacted. But the company did respond via Facebook. Also, it was on Facebook where I found that others experienced the issue. The brand did not respond until later in the afternoon. It amazed me that I was able to get a response via a social media site and not by picking up the phone. So does this mean that traditional customer service is a thing of the past?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, more and more people are going to social media sites for immediate responses to customer service. And, yes, brands interact with consumers, but there is still a place for traditional customer service in today’s “social” world.

Sometimes you just need to speak to a person to sort through issues. In addition, there have been times where I have been asked to call the 800 number via a Twitter post so more details could be given about that particular issue. A brand can really delve into a problem over the phone. Social media may not be the correct medium for that. My suggested approach: look to social media if you need a quick answer to a minor problem. Also, go there if you aren’t getting answers over the phone. But, if you are having a major issue, call the company. Conversation is the best way to communicate. Plus, there are times when things get lost in translation in a post.

This recent article from Mashable discusses the place of tradtional customer service in today’s social world. Also, it is critical to follow the 10 Commandments of Customer Service regardless of the medium. Is there anything missing?

Super Sunday: Twitter and its Social Media Strength

By now, we have all recovered from Super Bowl Sunday festivities, and we have gone about our normal daily routines. Well, unless you are still sulking in the Patriots loss and celebrating the Giants victory.

According to NBC News, this Super Bowl was the most watched event in American history, but the Super Bowl didn’t only set records on the airwaves, it also set them on Twitter. In fact, according to an article in the Washington Post, there were 12,233 tweets per second at the end of the game. This demonstrates one thing: the power of social media, and in particular, Twitter.

I knew this week’s blog post would have to center on the Super Bowl, but I wasn’t quite sure as to how. Would I focus on Madonna’s halftime performance, or would I focus on the fact that Peyton Manning was never shown during the telecast? Or could I talk about how Gieselle Bunchen’s comments about New England’s receivers went viral? The options were endless, but when I saw the statistic on how many tweets were sent, I knew I had my topic.

While many have questioned the power of Twitter (how can you fully express yourself in 140 characters?), the microblogging site is experiencing tremendous growth with more and more people flocking to it. One of the reasons to explain the site’s growth is word of mouth. Simply put, people are talking about the site and wanting to see what it has to offer. A study conducted by MIT found that early adopters of Twitter were young techies in cities such as Boston and San Francisco. When these individuals started to talk about the site, buzz grew and more and more people found the power that is Twitter.

One of the most powerful components of Twitter is that it allows individuals to engage with both individuals and brands. Twitter places a wide variety of information on a vast amount of topics at your fingertips. In fact, according to Twitter’s Adam Bain, 80% of Twitter users click on a link to find out more information. The other 20% either retweet or tweet. These statistics provide strong insight into what Twitter brings to the table for companies and individuals. Twitter affords people the opportunity to share information – articles, surveys, videos, pictures and more.

Twitter celebrated Super Sunday with a super strong showing, and this momentum should carry it through the kickoff to next football season and beyond. But, what do you think? Is Twitter going to maintain its strong position? Or, is it even the strongest social medium out there?

Questions Weighing on a PR Person’s Mind

As a PR pro, there are two questions that seem to constantly come up in conversations with clients as well as in the IMC program at WVU: how do you measure success, and what is the next big thing?

It has been argued time-and-time again that impressions and ad equivalencies are a thing of the past. Yes, it is finally time to say goodbye to the cost per column inch (I hear old school PR pros rejoicing throughout the country). Yet, as we say goodbye to one form of success measurement, we are about to welcome a new way to measure, especially in this emerging media world in which we live.

I found this recent blog post from measurement guru Katie Paine especially interesting. Paine details her 10 predictions for measurement in 2012. I agree with her on many points. For example, we will be competing for media coverage over the Olympics and the presidential elections. Note to self: start thinking of my media hooks right now for my clients.

I also concur that mobile will be even more predominant in our market and measurement will be a must. In fact, a recent study conducted by InMobi demonstrates that smartphone and tablet use will continue to grow in 2012 meaning that mobile needs to be on the radar screen of every marketing communications professional. And, as such, it will be critical to develop different ways to measure mobile success. I foresee us measuring success through not only engagement, but also through how people are reaching a site. For example, are people using a standard PC to reach your website, but are they using a smartphone to access it? If so, it is critical that your website has a mobile version. Too, make sure your site can easily be read on a tablet.  By determing the device on which your audience is reading your site, you will be better able to tailor not only your site, but other marketing outreach initiatives as well. 

One of the areas in which I don’t agree with Paine is that there will not be a new Twitter or Facebook. Yes, Twitter and Facebook have had explosive growth, but after reading this article in The Washington Post, I began to think whether or not is it possible for the next big thing in social media to happen this year. Has she heard of Pinterest?

As more and more people turn to other methods to search for news and information, could the next social media phenomenon appear this year? It could, and it may. In emerging media, the one thing I have learned is that you cannot make absolute statements because it is definitely a world of the unknown, and the next big thing can come to the forefront tomorrow.

What do you think?

Coffee, Shower, Emerging Media…Just A Part of the Daily Routine

The alarm goes off. I immediately turn over and grab for my smart phone. I check my email (both work and professional);  see if I missed any text messages while I was in dreamland; review my Twitter and Facebook feeds; jump to the local news site for major headlines and the weather; make a Words with Friends move; and maybe even read a few of my favorite blogs. 

It’s just another typical morning for me, and it is evident that emerging media is part of my daily routine. Some may say I’m addicted. I prefer to say that I like to be connected. I’m not alone in my need to immediately look to my social media sites in the morning.  In fact, according to a 2010 survey from Retrvo, nearly half of American adults check social networking sites before they are out of bed. In addition, 16% say this is how they get their daily news. Look at more fun facts from this survey, here.

Do you have the same morning routine as me? Do you think you might be addicted to social media? Look at this checklist to see if you exhibit the signs of a social media addict.

Now, all kidding aside, emerging media is a part of our daily lives, and this is what makes it so very important to us – whether you are constantly logging onto various websites or not. It is how we interact with friends (both new and old), how we get our news and how we expand our horizons. It is the new way to communicate, making it critical to both understand and embrace.

We live in a world that continues to change and evolve, which makes emerging media so compelling. Every day, it is different. What is new today, may not be new tomorrow. Remember MySpace? Remember at one time when a company having a blog was so very unique? Remember when you had to call a number to interact with the customer service department of a company?

Why all these questions? Because, the answers to them demonstrate how the media world in which we live has changed. Our world is content-driven – content can be developed quicker and distributed quicker. We live in a society that has emerged itself in media, making emerging media a critical component to our daily lives as marketers and citizens. Look at this speech from Michael Pranikoffs the director of emerging media for PRNewswire. Here he talks about how emerging media is a very much a part of our lives, even if we do not realize it.

Did anything in this video surprise you?