Having a problem with Google? Need to change the name of your Facebook page? Trying to sort something out with your Twitter account? No worries, just pick up the phone and call. A nice, cheerful, friendly person at the other end of the line will be delighted to help.
Umm… Just kidding. Customer service, of course – at least in the traditional sense – really has never been on their radar.
Oh, they do have customer support of sorts, and if you are patient and persistent you can usually find what appears to be a live human at the other end of a tweet, post or discussion. But they really would prefer that you find a self-serve option, and figure things out for yourself. You’re certainly never going to find a telephone number.
But one has to wonder how long it will be before this starts to change. Companies in virtually every industry have accepted the fact that customer service, as part of the broader concept of customer experience, is the new battleground for creating growth and customer loyalty.
The social giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are now making concerted efforts to expand into each other’s turf. Like most tech-based companies, they have relied almost exclusively on innovation to move their businesses forward, but as they begin to compete more directly, that paradigm will inevitably have to change. It’s a safe bet that the first one who takes the step to becoming actively customer-focused is going to have a significant edge.
“But wait,” you may say, “these are services that are absolutely free for the people who use them. Is it reasonable to expect outstanding customer service on top of it?” Perhaps not, but as customer expectations continue to rise exponentially, it is simply a reality.
The big question is, which of the giants will be taking the first step?
Shaun Belding, CEO The Belding Group