In service support, changing the channel changes little

I'm all for improving the support channels, and social media can do that. But don't confuse that with any fundamental change in how we do - and ought to do - service support.

Stuart Rance said in a presentation

social media helps end users solve their own problems. Monitoring social media has become essential in following customer and industry sentiment and even potentially identifies opportunities to resolve customer issues that we don’t otherwise know about

He's quite right. That is the impact of social media on support. We can monitor the traffic and detect new problems, incidents, requests and feedback.

The issue arises when some pundits and vendors think that using this new channel means that everything is changed. It isn't.

IF AND ONLY IF you are in a consumer market with users outside your organisation and control, there is the issue of user communtiies supporting each other, and all the potential for errors, myths, and misinformation. That's a big issue to address by reaching out to those communities. That is not just an extreme example of a channel for detecting incidents and problems: we also need to monitor the uncontrolled resolutions to ensure they are not putting anyone (or our brand) at risk - there is a ton of crap advice out there.

But for the rest of us - i.e. most of us - that's not an issue. The biggest issue is looking good by responding to chatter, showing we are listening. It's one more channel for new tickets. That's all.

And it doesn't change anything important:

We must still have a ticket so that we don't lose anybody. That really pisses customers off.
The tickets ought to be in one central system else chaos reigns.
We must still capture a record of action (a) for an audit trail if these is a complaint (b) so we can learn.
We must capture that learning in such a way that (a) it is shared and (b) it is accessible to everyone including users themselves.
We must still have plan, policy, process, procedures, roles for how to deal with the tickets else there is no repeatability (inconsistent service to customers REALLY pisses them off), no transfer of knowledge and culture to new employees, and nothing to improve.
We must quality-assure and improve what we do.
We must still have statistics so we can know if we are improving or not.

i.e. nothing changes when you improve or change the channel. It's just a channel. All the hard work remains the same.

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