I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook recently and I’ve got to admit I was a definite late comer. I use it to keep in touch with family and friends who are scattered around the globe. Sadly, the days of receiving a letter in the post have gone, and now we’re reduced to scanning status updates on people’s walls. But I digress…

Anyway, back to Facebook.

What I have been thinking about is the idea of companies talking about providing help ‘at source’, particularly with reference to Facebook. The idea is a very simple one. Wherever my customer is, that’s where I need to be to help them at their hour of greatest need: now.

So if I’m on Facebook and have a problem I don’t want to have to suddenly click off Facebook and go to a company’s web site, fill out an email form and wait for three days for a reply. What I want to happen is not only to ask a question or complain on Facebook, but also get a reply or at least an acknowledgement on Facebook as well. And hopefully I’ll get some kind of response in less than three days.

There are an increasing number of companies now providing options for people to ask questions or complain on their company pages. Many have created specific ‘support’ or ‘help’ tabs. Here you can usually find FAQs, live chat, or the option to ask a question or leave a comment. Others simply default to their wall or the discussion tab.

This got me thinking about the idea of ‘at source’ this morning. For me, ‘at source’ is not about going to a company’s page and asking them a question or complaining there; FAQs, in my mind, is a different proposition. In some respects this is only one step up from going to their web site and emailing them – same interaction just a different platform. The differences being I don’t have to leave Facebook and my question or complaint is published in a relatively more public space.

For me, ‘at source’ is about me posting a status update  that might be a complaint or question on my profile page. It’s not necessarily about going to a company’s page to do so. I’m aware, however, that this is potentially fraught with difficulty. Should a company cross over into ‘my space’?  What is the etiquette?

This notion of ‘place’ and ‘privacy’ as it pertains to customer service is an interesting one, particularly on Facebook, and one I will be looking at in more detail in 2011.

 

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