Does Your Organization Have Multiple Personalities?

Whether you like it or not, your customer service is now part of your company’s public relations. In reality it has always been that way but now, with the variety of online tools that let individuals have a louder voice, many more people can hear about your customer service successes and failures.

Customer service is one of the many ways you can put social media tools to use – identifying customer issues early and resolving them to create happy, satisfied customers. Whether it’s through focused tools like Get Satisfaction or through a coordinated listening and engagement program, there are plenty of ways to go about it. On a daily basis we’re blown away by the power of tools like Radian6 for coordinating this kind of effort.

Respond to customers online and they can be blown away that you’re listening. Frankly, most people don’t yet expect it. We’ve seen from our own clients that the response you can get from effective online service is powerful.

What happens, though, when your offline customer service function doesn’t live up to the expectation for service standards you’ve set online? 

You end up with an organization with multiple personalities.

Online, your company is friendly, responsive, and goes beyond the minimum to set a gold-level standard. Offline, your call centre staff are assessed on turnaround time on calls, and are focused on getting you off the line as quickly as possible.

The person who gets prompt, friendly, personal service online one day and then the next day gets put on hold to a call centre in India for 90 minutes will have an even more negative perception of that phone experience due to that contrast. What’s more, they’re likely to continue to rely on your online service in future, by-passing the other options.

Is that the kind of consistency you aim for with your brand? I hope not.

What about the customers who experience this disconnect? As Todd Defren notes, the response is likely to be something along the lines of:

“Treat me like a STAR one day, and give me a nightmarish experience the next day, just because I’ve reached out via a different channel?  F* you!  I’m gonna tweet about this — you are a fraud!!”

If you’re starting to tune-in and listen to conversations about your company online, pay close attention to what people are saying. Are they consistently complaining about your offline customer service? If they are, while you stand to benefit from outreach through social media tools, you need to take a long, hard look at the rest of your customer service operation.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.