Have we, as consumers, gone from using social media as a void into which we can safely voice our frustration to one in which we, as consumers, expect results?
Whether Comcast is down or Delta somehow managed to screw up your flight, social media has become to go-to vehicle for publicly voicing our service grievances. The thing is, in 2013, it seems that more brands than ever are speaking back.
The Dawn of Social Customer Service
This wasn’t always the case. The Frank Eliason story is relatively well known – as a Director at Comcast he single-handedly took to customer complaints on Twitter before most people had even heard of the service. Being a Director, Frank had the power to get things done, a miracle considering Comcast’s perennially low customer service rankings. Frank was praised. Comcast’s brand got a little progressive shine.
Other brands caught on. Hotels. Airlines. Restaurants. The social media customer service use case grew with viral abandon. And, by and large, it was a good thing. Organizations could stop public disasters before they spread. Consumers could get actual help. For a large company, social customer service was a relatively low-cost tool that returned dividends.
The Post-Eliason Era
In the five years beyond Eliason, has the novelty worn off? Before Comcast, griping on social media was a cathartic release, an appeal to the masses that one was both unhappy and, by proxy, the same as everyone else. When I say my cable is out, that is something you have undoubtedly suffered. You can empathize and commiserate. We are that much closer. Because we didn’t expect Comcast to say “Sorry, let me fix that for you,” it was okay that they didn’t.
But today, we as a consumer base tend to get our “sorry.” We’ve grown used to brands apologizing and, on occasions, taking steps to right wrongs. Has this changed our void-shouting?
The Social Media Tipping Point
The first obvious sign that social customer service had changed was when people began to alter the format of gripes. What was once generic, “my cable is out…again” became specific, “Hey @comcastcares, my cable is out. Again!” Tones shifted, becoming darker. The pre-gripe search, where users search for or ask for a brand’s username, became a thing.
Which brings about the question, have we reached a tipping point? Are we, as consumers, so accustomed to brands catering to us on our social networks of choice that a brand failing to do so becomes a detriment to the brand?
Time will tell on that one, but I have a feeling that the answer is yes. What do you think? Is there any joy left in a surprise social interaction with a brand or is that interaction the new expectation?
Tags: Brand, Broadband, Business, Comcast, Communication design, Delta, Director, Marketing, NBC Universal, pre-gripe search, social media, social media customer service use case, social networks, Twitter