Social Customer Service and The Nile Perch

If you’ve been a frequent reader of Seth Godin’s blog for some time as I have, you get to a point when you finally appreciate the subtlety of Seth.  After reading enough of his stuff, you get the sense that he often has a personal experience or specific target about which he’s writing.  But his genius lies in the fact that he rarely takes the easy pot shot or calls out that target by name.  Instead, he focuses on the lesson, remaining broad and vague enough to allow you, the reader, to connect the dots to your own experiences, thus making an infinitely more valuable tool for driving change.

I had one of those moments this weekend, when Seth’s Beware the Nile Perch crossed my reading list directly after this story about twitter revolutionizing airline customer service, posted by James Sorensen in the #custserv daily

Twitter is revolutionizing airline customer service?  Isn’t this a bit of fools gold?  So, the airline’s ability to revolutionize its service delivery and radically alter the customer experience is based on a new tool?  A new channel?  Because some tech-savvy customer tweets the fact that they are angry, and now the airlines know its cool and hip to monitor twitter and respond, we now conclude that the entire industry is going to revolutionize its service delivery model?

In case you don’t click through to it, the gist of Seth’s post is that, like the Nile perch that is easy to catch and a potentially abundant food source, making it tempting to introduce it into waters all over the world, introduction of foreign species where they don’t belong can be devastating to the entire ecosystem.  Twitter and other social tools are the “bright shiny objects” that have the potential to mask the real issues with the airline service experience, garnering positive press like in the article above and allowing the industry to use words like “revolution”.  All this, while service continues to erode, the customer has never felt more abandoned and survey ratings show the airlines among the absolute worst performers in terms of customer service.

We’ve seen this scenario play out once before.  And while the final chapter isn’t written, the cable industry has experienced its own Nile Perch.  A small band of rebels led by a super human being Frank Eliason figured out how to exploit Twitter to address customer service issues for a small subset of cable customers, while gaining a tremendous amount of positive exposure for their employer.  But, what about the masses?  Those that don’t tweet?  Customer satisfaction ratings across the cable industry still scrape the bottom.

So, while its tempting to load up the covered wagon and join the rush to social customer service, it might turn out that this fool’s gold isn’t even real, but merely a mirage.

Comments

  1. Many companies are now turning to social media to improve relationships with customers by providing a better customer experience. We really can’t deny the fact that businesses are testing out Twitter and other social networking sites as part of their steps into the social media landscape.

  2. wow!

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