Recently Chris Crabtree explained that social media networks, such as Twitter, fail companies when it comes to customer service and engagement because they limit the amount of information that can be communicated from company to consumer. I respectfully disagree.

Expectations of Customer Engagement on Social Networks

The point of social media isn’t so that we can witness how a company resolves a customer complaint. Instead, social media helps us know if they are listening when we complain or compliment and act accordingly, to resolve or reward the issue. Social media is a touchpoint in the many interactions a company has with its customer. It is not meant to be the only point by which a company connects, interacts or otherwise engages with a customer. I would be disappointed by any company that solely uses Twitter or Facebook to engage with users.

Crabtree writes:

As useful as it can be to engage customers where they are (social networks), there are unfortunate limitations. Most social networks were not designed with customer engagement in mind.

Social networks were designed to engage everyone and no one, not just customers and the companies from which they buy, review or promote. Customer service has been a convenient by-product of social media. Companies have the privilege of listening in. What they decide to do with the information is what actually influences users and potential customers.

Good Customer Service Engages Everywhere

The times that I have Tweeted a company on Twitter may have been to get its attention about a query I submitted on its website or ask a simple question that didn’t warrant an official website contact form inquiry or phone call. In reply, I either get a simple answer (if there is one), a direct message or directed to another touch point -- which I may not have found if left to my own devices. Consequently, we know if a company fails to respond or otherwise recognize another user’s frustration -- from the user themselves.

I do agree that forums are a useful component to customer service engagement, but like social media, it is just one way for customers to find information. Forums, unfortunately, are often only as good as the customers engaging with it. If a company's website content were helpful, I wouldn't need to go to social media platforms to ask for help.

Conversely, I go to Twitter to get a company's attention, because often it's the easiest way, especially if I am contacting them from my mobile device, where I am less likely to gain access to their website, even if it is mobile-friendly. I don't intend for my entire interaction to live on Twitter. It's just a means to an end, in most cases.

Companies with good customer service will have good customer service regardless of whether they are on Twitter, have a Facebook page or moderate a user forum. They have it because it’s ingrained in the company culture.

Investing in customer service is not just about the bottom line, it’s about respect, integrity and commitment to meeting the needs of your audience. Social media, in all its various forms, provides generous opportunities to engage with the user in their native space about issues that are affecting them in real time.


Editor's Note: Follow all of our experts views on Web Engagement, including: