Socializing Customer Service

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By now you've probably heard how companies such as Comcast and Dell have been using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to build relationships with their audiences and mitigate service issues with their customers. Though their willingness to "join the conversation" is certainly appreciated and admirable, I question the scale of what one person behind a Twitter account for, say, General Motors or Ford can handle. That's not to say I don't appreciate the relationships I've forged with these brands in my online social life. Many agree that the mere presence of a company on Twitter is such a strong sign of goodwill that most are open to wipe the slate clean and give their relationships with the brands a fresh start (see the screen shot from Twitter as example).

In its current state, I think of Twitter as a fantastic platform to spread goodwill. But as a medium for customer service? Paint me skeptical. Until now.

You see, this last week I decided to install a video service that would allow me to chat across the web with other people using cameras. This service is called Tokbox and it's actually pretty fun. The company wrote a nice little application that I can embed into my Firefox toolbar that apparently is connected with Facebook. Well, for some reason I couldn't get it to work and decided to complain about it via Twitter, hoping someone would respond to my Tokbox-related questions.

Lo and behold, I received a response via Twitter from a service called Get Satisfaction informing me that my question was answered via their website. Get Satisfaction is a community-based customer-service aggregator for large and small brands alike, where they use the social web to uncover, respond to and alleviate concerns through conversations around their represented brands. Members of the community interact with employees of the companies to resolve issues with products and services. Think of it as a more specialized Yahoo Answers.

This novel approach to mitigate my issues was definitely appreciated, since the dialog between Tokbox and myself occurred within media I was comfortable with. Check it out when you have an opportunity.
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