Social Failing Customers? There's A (Whats)App For That

There is a massive brand image problem that runs through the heart of social media. Essentially, social is used by brands as a publishing tool. Sure, there are some smart brands that get the two-way dialogue piece and can strike up interesting conversations. But in the main, social media is a publishing tool to let people know when a new line is launched or prices have been slashed.

The difficulty is that consumers are using social as a customer services platform. You can't blame them. Invites to "like us" and "follow us" are all over just about every brand's web site and app pages. There are multiple invitations to not just blindly follow but to also "let us know how we did." Is it any surprise that many feeds are a marketing director's worst nightmare?

If you ever feel that you're having a bad day, checking out Interflora's accounts. The flower delivery service is constantly battered with complaints over flowers not arriving or being in a poor condition if they do. There are many brands like them, but I mention them because I have been one of the long list of complainers a couple of times. 

It comes as very little surprise, then, that research in Netimperative today shows that only just over one in three customer service enquiries are answered satisfactorily on Twitter and Facebook. Less than half of everyday questions posed by customers could be answered on Facebook and Twitter. 

It's not a surprise because, it may be controversial to point out, we all use social media as a broadcast tool. We all want "likes" for pictures of the kids and for people to enjoy the articles we have shared. Sure, with friends, you may want to chat about a memory, pass on a comment about how the kids are growing -- but essentially it's all about broadcasting.

Thus, no brand truly wants to hear how much they suck on their Facebook home page because it's pretty rare that someone will say thanks for something they expected to happen anyway after paying for the specified item service. Most comments are going to be from the disappointed, if you open up social as a commentating tool.

That's truly why I believe brands are launching chatbots and making themselves available over Messenger and WhatsApp. If you fancy getting in contact, the last thing brands want you to do is wash dirty linen in public. Get a message relayed over your chat platform of choice and the public doesn't have to hear about a missed delivery, cancelled flight, scratched vase or rude service. To be honest, it's where these conversations belong. The public does not want to listen in on moaning that can be summed up at the end of the process through rating the brand. 

Businesses rolling out Messenger chat are doing a great job of dressing this up as a customer benefit. Obviously it is, but behind the slick marketing and the "being there wherever our customers want us" piece, there is a brand praying that negative comments end up in private chats and not on public platforms.

So of course social media is failing in customer service. It's not really what it's there for. Two-way conversations are great until you they veer away from what you were hoping for. Messenger and WhatsApp are the obvious answers for brands that are willing to accept social is more about broadcasting than listening. 

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