As it appeared in the Daily Nation on May 10th 2016
The voice of the customer on social media continues to get louder. As a result, social media has become a powerful tool that customers and companies alike can use to their advantage. A few days ago, I waited at the airport for pick up for more than an hour and a half. There was no information from the ground staff on the reason for the delay but every so often I would get an automated text message showing a new guest number but no indication of new pick up time. After the long wait with no apology from the ground staff or the driver, I decided to tweet Super Shuttle all in effort to share with them some valuable feedback.
I was not too sure they would respond, after all this was my first interaction with the brand and I was in a foreign country. To my surprise they responded almost immediately via twitter and a case manager sent me an email indicating that as a result of the long wait, I would get a full refund. They did not ask for more details which means that the team was able to link my social media interaction with my booking. Like other social media users, I utilized the power of social media to give feedback. Unfortunately, the refund did not change my perception of the service provider. However, when the company showed up for pick up back to the airport two minutes earlier I knew my feedback may have been taken seriously.
Most social media users may at one time or the other have interacted with a brand as customers with varied experiences. Customer service via social media has moved away from nice to have to a must have with most business across the globe integrating it with the core customer management systems. Statistics show tremendous uptake of twitter and Facebook as preferred social media customer service channels way beyond the imagination of their founders. While many smart companies have chosen to keenly listen to their customers’ social voice and act, the not so smart companies continue to ignore their customers.
Two decades ago the saying that how calls are answered speaks volumes about customer service in our organizations made sense and saw the introduction of call centres. Today, we have moved away from call centres to contact centres and we will soon have social media centres. The mobile telephone and the internet have been at the centre of this revolution. Mobile telephones are no longer just calling devices, they have evolved to multi-channel contact devices and even transaction devices. One startling statistic by Forbes indicates that by 2020 75% of all transactions will be completed through the mobile phone. The new generation of consumers has grown up in the era of mobile phones, internet and social media. Social media has grown as a supreme customer service channel which makes most customer interactions public.
Time is ripe to propose a new saying “how social media interactions are managed speaks volumes about our customer focus.” This saying makes a lot more sense to the new generation of consumers and to social media users in general. Monitoring social sites, responding to complaints and following through on customer requests via social media can no longer be an option. It is four years since major brands in Kenya such as Safaricom started using social media as a customer service channel. The channel is on the road to maturity and the late adopters will need to play catch up.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on email@example.com/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy