People seek the human touch in business every day, yet more and more companies that do service over the phone turn their people onto scripts, people in stores are less helpfuli, companies are less responsive as the true owners of the companies are so far removed from the service levels, they leave the work with the clients to people who are no more invested in their “job” than collecting their next pay cheque.

A dismal picture, and certainly not every experience is like this, however I have to ask myself: why is it that when I think about the most impressive service I have seen in the past few months, it is coming from companies that have oriented themselves towards Social Media?

1. Social Media requires high engagement and attention.

Companies that have committed themselves to this will naturally be more responsive, attentive and therefore will be living in a culture of providing excellent service.

2. Social media tools use public conversation forums.

The fact that everyone can see what you are doing and how you are responding to something is certainly creating a higher standard. Social media people know this naturally, they are confident in their behaviors and are trained to respond (or should be) so they can offer a high level of performance consistently. If not, the nature of social media allows for quick identification of less desirable behaviors and will therefore have to be corrected quickly. This makes for a superior customer service team in comparison to those who work on private networks because their behavior or approach is hidden behind the scenes it can take much longer to identify issues. There is no pressure from the general public on management to address these issues quickly. When you put your reputation on the line, you are going to make sure things are going well.

3. Social Media requires people who have the ability to stay current and adapt.

In order to do well in Social Media, you have to be dynamic, motivated, responsive to changes. Things change from one day to the next, software’s have issues which need to be identified and resolved, new media develops and you have to change with technology in order to deliver your service or products effectively over social media channels. Companies who live in this mindset, will require employees with these skills. These skills translate very well for strong service people.

4. Social media requires attention.

Today’s HR professionals know there is a growing epidemic among employees of “disengagement”. Disengagement costs employers 5 times more than absenteeism.

5. Social media is known for its ability to enable viral behavior.

IOld fashioned service standards have taught us that an unhappy customer can tell 10 others. When the world was smaller and businesses were more local, this could always be a guiding principle to keep your customers happy>; You didn’t want the whole village mad at you right? For a while now, as the world has grown larger businesses operating at local levels, not really using engaged communities as their client bases have taken chances. Why? The word of mouth never really gets back to the company, and people do not see the results of the bad word of mouth spreading – unless of course it gets to the media. The media however is not particularly concerned with local businesses, unless its a major news story. Your customer service representative not returning calls or being rude is not really newsworthy – but it is devastating to the business. Some businesses have grown lazy, their standards have dropped because no one is really listening when something goes wrong. The business is large enough not to be able to pinpoint the lower service levels , and service representatives are not held accountable.

In comparison, anyone using social media knows that bad “press” can go viral, and it doesn’t have to be a major “news” story, all it takes is one person to make a comment and have others join in. This kind of viral spread, which is a true reality for companies using social media actually ensures these companies pay special attention to how they are operating. Sentiment/emotion is easily measured on social media channels, and people are trained to be responsive and ensure public relations disaster do not occur online. The bar is raised for service.

6. Companies using Social media are listening to the public.

Companies who chose to operate in Social media are doing so because they are responding to the changes in the world. They are realizing that the world has become a smaller place, that everyone is accessible, that there is opportunity for growth.

This proactive behavior represents the mindset of ambitious companies. Ambitious companies will ensure that they are investing where they need to to advance. Since relationship management, customer engagement and community building are identified as key factors in success, these companies committed to growth and evolution will be found on Social Media. These are the companies that are also likely to consistently evolve and grow internally as they adapt to our changing environments.

You don’t need to be on social media to have these values and pay the necessary attention to succeed, however it has become evident to me that over the past couple of years, there seems to be a direct correlation between companies invested in providing outstanding service and those taking the risks and investing in using social media as an additional way to connect with clients, build relationships and ensure great service.

Social media mimics the cornerstones of excellent service, and honorable business practices: being reliable, being transparent, offering a quality product, being proud of your name (or company name), listening and being responsive. The behavior is human, the tool used to deliver this personal touch as companies grow is social media.

What are your experiences?

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