I’m pondering the difference between ‘customer service’ and ‘social engagement.’
When we think of the former, we think Marshall Fields and Nordstroms – very early 20th century — the granddaddies of a strong, retail service model where “the customer is always right.” When we think of the latter, we think decidedly 21st century – social media, social networking, crowd sourcing and the like.
A recent blog post by Duke Chung on Mashable suggests they may be the same thing, or at least a chicken and an egg. Chung posits that with the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed, and outlines the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through ‘customer service.’ Isn’t this the same thing as social engagement? He advises us to be: (1) fast; (2) visible; (3) consistent; (4) organized, and (5) human.
I’m thinking the human part is really the key to true social engagement. When organizations first embarked on social media, there was a tendency to be somewhat robotic and/or passive. A relatively static website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and maybe a blog. We more or less ignored our customers. When they commented, more often than not they received no response. By contrast, what makes Nordstroms stand head and shoulders above their competitors is the very human way they deal with consumers. Every one of their sales persons talks to each customer with an apparent depth of understanding and concern. It’s personal.
How do nonprofits get personal with customer service (ahem, social engagement)?
First, we need to shift our focus from (1) working in siloed departments (aka, marketing, public relations, development, volunteer services, alumni relations, programs) and (2) creating siloed social platforms (e.g., a Tweet from a volunteer coordinator here, a blog post from a program manager there) to transforming how we lead our organizations and communicate with our constituents from a holistic standpoint. We must consider our overall user. It’s not about us and our structures (or lack thereof).
Today’s dissatisfied customer is a networked customer. As Brian Solis notes :
Simply having the tools, and being connected, does not result in social engagement. Engagement requires a human touch that makes our constituents feel valued.