I am a technology geek. I love social media and I’m always using it but here is the strange thing – I am 56 years of age, so I guess I am unusual, or that’s what my adult kids tell me! Why do I tell you this? When I started to look back on the evolution of Social Customer Care over the last five years the first thing that came to my mind is that most people would say ‘what is Social Customer Care’? I think the reality is it’s not seen as a ‘real’ channel or something serious yet and as a result it’s still being ignored by the vast majority of organizations today.

I spend my life talking with ‘C’ suite executives about how they can improve their Customer Experience but social customer care is never raised by them. When I talk about it they look at me as if to say ‘oh, you are one of the strange geeks that I now must humor’. The problem social customer care faces is most of the people that run the majority of organizations are people of my age group and they don’t use social anything! Too many of them still think it’s a fad that will go away. But we all know it won’t…

When I wrote my last book Customer Experience: Future Trends and Insights, Palgrave McMillian 2010, I made the observation that technology is not driving social media it is the fact that people are social; the technology is just enabling the natural human behavior. The understanding of human behaviour in most organizations is not very high, thus it is not understood, nor embraced and therefore again they don’t see the power of this.

In the last five years it has been mainly an uphill battle to show that social customer care is here to stay. It won’t go away and it is just going to get bigger. You can decide to be like King Kinuit and order the tide to stop rising, but it won’t. You have to embrace it.

The big issue with embracing it means losing control and people of my generation are scared of this. Only the other day I was listening to the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ song and it reminded me of how slowly United responded to this. I am sure that many ‘C’ levels execs were shocked by how quick this happened and if they were honest realized this would have happened to them as well.

I wrote a piece called, “The Latest Social Media Gaffes: What Were They Thinking?” discussing how social experience can go so wrong when people of my generation start to play with things they don’t understand. The CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary created a twitter storm in his sexist tweets and showing his naivety when it comes to this space. He did not even know what a hash tag was! This again just reinforces the CEO to run and hide and hope it goes away.

In my view we will quickly get to the point where people who have a high social influence will receive better customer service than those that don’t, as organizations realize that they can make a significant dent in the reputation to help promote them. I wrote about this, the fact that the more social influence equals a better customer experience. We are already seeing celebrities being paid for tweets, offering a better level of service to people with a high social influence is not new. Many organizations jump higher and faster if someone of influence wants them to do something. Social just increases the number of people that have this impact and through things like Klout see who has influence.

Social customer care has just about come of age but is still in its infancy. I look forward to seeing companies embrace this more as I for one think it’s a vital channel.

Colin Shaw - What is Social Customer Care?

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world.  He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.

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