A Case for Building ...


The most visible intersection of social media and customer support has to be Twitter.

At any given time, you’ve got twitchy customers taking their complaints to the masses.

A quick look at the tweet stream from one of the whipping boys of social floggings, Comcast, brings us “deep” customer interactions such as:

Comcast Tweets

Just in case Comcast questioned the legitimacy of Liz’s complaint, she includes the supporting data (well done).

Marsha Collier, a customer support guru who knows her way around social media, notes that in situations like Comcast, the problem often lies with the limitations of their infrastucture to follow up and take action on customer service issues. “If you don’t have the technology or staff to back up your services, online outreach is a waste of time. It is merely an attempt at PR which will soon be called out.”

Having depended on United for overseas travel as well as studied the United brand, I’ve witnessed my share of behavior that defies logic (though I never experienced my guitar being turned into kindling). Still, those on the front line are dealing with stuff like customers who can’t believe  the airline has the audacity to sell all of their seats.


Even with such a zinger, Marsha points out that sometimes a sympathetic tweet in response diffuses the situation. “A nice touch would have been to contact the flight – which they can do – and offer the customers a free cocktail or snack for their troubles.”

I love this idea because social media becomes the door opener to a hand-crafted interaction with the customer and one with the potential to leave a positive impression.

I remember hearing Phil Bienert from AT&T talk at SoCon11 about creating a version of mission control with what sounded like more than 100 people tracking and responding in real time to any utterance of AT&T on Twitter. It all seemed so transactional with none of the human touch called out by Marsha.

More than transactions, social media should take its rightful place as part of the strategy in customer support.

Amazon apparently agrees given this recruitment ad for a social media leader focused on customer support:

  • Amazon Customer Service is looking for an experienced leader for our Social Support team. In this role you will develop our global social support strategy, vision and roadmap and work with marketing, public relations, design, engineering, and operational teams to launch new support offerings.

The position reports into the director of support services.

This is where things are headed in companies taking a progressive approach to communications.

Even in companies without the scale to dedicate social resources to customer support, it’s time for social media to get out of its silo.

That last phrase does sound kind of weird.

Note: The narrative portion of the Amazon job description is included in this post below.

Amazon Job

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