Yesterday, I wrote about real-time information and the death of news cycles. This of course creates considerable challenges for business, which typically is not yet architected for real-time communication (at least not in public).
Speed matters. Requiring someone to pull off to the side in your drive-thru lane like a vehicular leper because you didn’t have the foresight to cook some chicken strips during dinner rush has a deleterious impact on customer satisfaction.
Your speed in answering the social media telephone is no different. Considering that 70% of consumer complaints on Twitter go unanswered, you can probably assume that response at ANY point will win you some hearts and minds amongst your customers. And that’s probably true today. But it won’t be true for very long. You’ll need to get faster. Speed and brevity are the twin rails of technology and customer interaction.
And the responsiveness expectations your customers place upon you in social media will continue to heighten, as consumers will adopt the belief that companies can and should use social media the way they often do, in a continuous, hyper-aware, always-on, multi-tasking fashion.
This creates a problem even bigger than speed.
Shared Tools Equals Less Patience
Social media is unique in that businesses are using the exact same tools and playbook that customers are using in their own lives. This breaks down barriers and eliminates the shroud of mystery that business has used to its advantage for centuries. You know why customers still accept (albeit begrudgingly) waiting on hold for 25 minutes? Because they don’t run their own call center. If they did, they wouldn’t stand for it. They’d know that you’re understaffed to boost margin. They’d know how linear the relationship is between customer service expenditures and subsequent satisfaction. They’d be mad as hell, and they wouldn’t take it anymore.
The speed of social media isn’t inherently the challenge, nor the fact that it’s made customer service and crisis management a spectator sport. The real challenge is that we can’t fool customers any longer. They often know just as much about Twitter and Facebook and blogging and YouTube and Yelp and TripAdvisor and FourSquare and all the rest as we do. That’s never been the case before, and it makes it much harder for business to claim they need 4 hours to respond, when customers are responding to their friends using the exact same platforms in 15 seconds.