Social Media and Customer Experience

Many Social Media proponents, activists and analysts express strong believe that its advance creates revolutionary changes to role and importance of consumer voice in market dynamics.

So far it gave birth to hordes of consultants and marketing services that promote ideas of influencer chasing and reputation management monitoring technologies, however the “scream” of offerings seem to counteract the idea of increasing the volume of the voice of customer.

One example is a number of websites, offering depository of customer reviews about products and/or services, outnumber the customers who are willing and capable to contribute to these depositories. The end result seems to be counterproductive as consumers who look for such information are hassled to sites that have no content to offer.

Some companies spend substantial energy to explore and pursue some form of activity involving Social Media and there are very few, but loudly celebrated examples of those. However that doesn’t seem to change overall reputation of these companies. One of my favorite whipping “boys” – Comcast is still rated dismally for the delivery of their customers experience, despite heroic efforts of their Social Media team on Twitter and Facebook.  Here is another example, a darling of the Social Media mavens – LinkedIn. Based on Customer Service Scoreboard scores

LinkedIn is ranked #253 out of the 273 companies that have a CustomerServiceScoreboard.com rating with an overall score of 19.35 out of a possible 200. This score rates LinkedIn customer service and customer support as Terrible.

There 56 negative comments vs 1 positive one and most of them by paying subscribers, who cannot get their issues resolved. Ironically the 19.35 score is below the LinkedIn lowest monthly subscription fee of $24.95.

I know that 56 complains is a very small number considering millions of people who use the network, but I wonder what is a percentage of them who actually use it actively enough to care, and even more interesting is how many actually pay for it. I personally am one of them and my experience is one of neglect. I have an issue outstanding for almost two years without resolution. The issue resurface from time to time and causes me a lot of aggravation and waste of time. I finally decided to use LinkedIn Inmail to escalate the problem to the founder of the company, Reid Hoffman.

On 7/2/10 12:18 PM, Gregory Yankelovich wrote:
——————–
I am expending a valuable Inmail credit and hope that you will read it.

This is the 3rd time I am erroneously locked out of my ability to ask for Introduction. I am paying customer, but I cannot get resolution for almost 2 years. The 1st time I have experienced this problem, I reported it 10/27/2008 and I am having problems with it once again and it negatively impacts my efforts to bring my product to the market.

I rely heavily on my network to reach out to potential customers and partners. However every time I encounter this problem I have to wait for 2-3 days for your Customer Support to reset the system’s counters. 2-3 days are a long time to waste in the life of a startup. I understand the power of reputation more than most people and don’t want to scream #fail all over Twitter. Please help.

To Reid’s credit he responded

Gregory,
I am reading it; I’ll put your issue into the executive escalations. Since I don’t know what you’re doing that hits problems, I don’t know if we support what you’re doing or not. (For example, not saying that this is what you’re doing, but we have very clear messaging limits to prevent spam.)
Hope it all works out. (And, btw, you can write what you feel is right on twitter: I apologize for where we step when we’re wrong or slow.)
all the best,
Reid

However his response was the only one, I am still waiting for any contact from the Customer Support. I eventually did express my frustration on Twitter:

Wasted yet another day waiting for help from #LinkedIn technical support – still no love.

What is a reasonable response time for #customersupport? Does anyone else has #LinkedIn Introduction Withdrawal or is it just me?

and here the reaction I have received

@piplzchoice Do you have a free linkedin account? If so, be thankful you get to use linkedin at all. Just sayin.

I did not write this to whine about my “misfortunes”, but to explore what, if anything, is actually changing with advent of Social Media in respect to the treatment of the customers. Advertisers keep complaining how difficult it is to gain share of consumer attention, yet when a company like LinkedIn or Facebook, does manage to do it, and end up raising enormous amounts of capital based on that fact, our attention doesn’t seem to be that valuable anymore. Let’s face it, Social Media is nothing more than another communication channel, like a next generation of telephone, radio, TV and email. All of these improved our life experiences at some cost to our privacy or quality of life, but how we use these channels is the only thing that may influence how Market delivers our Customer Experiences.

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