Why Social Media is more than mere Customer Service?

It can not be denied that social media has changed the way customer service works. If I began this post saying social media has made customer service real time, you’ll definitely close the window and move on. I also believe that the real time thing is far from true. Even call centres were real time, right?

In the call centre era, you dialed a number, and then pressed a few numbers and then got to speak to a customer service executive who began the conversation with “Hi, I am so and so, how may I help?”. At the end of the call, your problem remains unsolved and when you hang up, you are thinking that that this SoAndSo that you spoke to was an idiot!

In the Twitter era though, you follow a brand and listen to every word they say (well, almost). Every brand needs to put up a message at regular intervals and participate in conversations. Every brand has a ‘display picture’, a certain tone, a few repeated messages and everything else that is part of branding as of customer service.

I’m putting together a few of the brands that I interact with on Twitter and also tell you I think I’d like them talking about.

Flipkart

If you go through their conversations, all of them are crisp answers to customer queries. You ask them about books, cameras, CDs or even about your past orders, they are very willing to help and are extremely polite. All replies are quite conversational and to the point. There are rarely any smilies or retweets of praise. There is also some French (No. I don’t mean abuse).

ChennaiIPL

A very active and popular Twitter account, especially during the days that Chennai Super Kings have a match. On such days, they religiously update scores, encourage followers to cheer for CSK, retweet such fan cheers and beautifully handle wins and losses. On days when there is not a match, they wish teams that have a match, update a fan blog and just wish people good mornings!

Airtel

I don’t follow them or particularly talk to them, thankfully. But I hear a lot about them on my timeline. And if you see their profile, you’ll know that all they say is “please send us an email for quick action”. They take credit for resolutions and regret inconvenience if a customer is cribbing. In the end, it is all an email and not a tweet!

These are just quick examples of the handles I follow and hear from regularly. Each of them has an image. Flipkart, for me, is a brand that is smart, witty, slightly-high headed but highly competent, perhaps well read too! ChennaiIPL on the other hand is friendly, accommodative, fun, working doubly hard during the hours of the match, listening to people and has Murali Vijay as their profile background! *wink*

Airtel, most importantly, is a very very (un)popular brand on Twitter. If you were on Twitter, you’d think twice before opting for the brand. They seem very inefficient, a friend once told me they were liars, they are of no help and they do not use Twitter to its capacity!

SnapDeal, for instance, is a bit of a stalker. The news channels are all plugs to non-stories. Network18 has multiple handles and religiously retweet each other. ShaadiDotCom asks culturally sensitive questions. ICICI always asks for DMs. Docomo is mere damage control. If you look closer, the brand’s Twitter activity forms a brand image in the minds of the followers. In cases like Airtel and Docomo, it could be a matter of processes. But in a case like Flipkart, it could just be the genuinely intelligent person maintaining the Twitter handle.

Well, this is no news. So, what am I getting at?

P.S: The brands mentioned above aren’t the top brands or anything. They are just the brands that I most interact with or perhaps see the most on Twitter. If you know of brands and you have an image of them, use the comments section.

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