I was moderating a panel at the Corporate Social Media Summit in NYC yesterday, joined by representatives from Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, H&R Block and Radian6. One of the questions that came up during our discussion of “Using Social Media for Brand Preservation and Enhancement” was:
As consumers increasingly expect real-time online responsiveness from B2C brands, how is it possible to scale to meet that demand?
Sarah Carver of Radian6 tossed off what I thought was a fascinating concept to explore. I am paraphrasing liberally here, but Sarah suggested that the day may come when certain online Customer Service tasks are “automated,” allowing human agents to deal with the more complex issues that crop up.
At first, this concept got my dander up. Do we really want the whole “Press 0 for an Operator” paradigm that we all HATE when we use 800 #s replicated on our beautiful Social Web?
But on reflection, I think this might be fine for basic tasks, e.g., “Hey @ChickfilA, where can I get a chicken burger around here?” might get a geo-targeted and automated Siri-style response. I can even see something like, “Hey @AAA, my tire blew out, come help” and getting a DM from AAA to confirm your location and assure you “help is on the way.” But when I am pissed that my cable is out, or my PS3 hard-drive died (#firstworldproblems), I am only going to be more peeved to receive a bot response as I rant into the socialverse. It’s a tricky line to walk.
Marketers and Customer Service executives must be vigorously encouraged to remember that the original promise and JOY of social media was the humanization of brands. “Holy crap, @FrankatComcast just responded to my pissy tweet and they’re sending a guy over! w00t!”
Nobody wants to return to the days of automation for automation’s sake. Consumers want to feel empowered, not sidestepped. If the day comes when you need to “tweet 0 for an Operator,” I’ll be the first barbarian at the gate.
Disclosures: H&R Block, AAA and Radian6 are SHIFT clients.
Posted on: June 14, 2012 at 10:08 am By Todd Defren