I’ve been spending a bit of time on Quora lately. I signed up to Quora when it was first launched, but largely ignored it as I felt the majority of questions were related to investing in tech start-ups. I decided to give it another go a few months before Christmas, and I’ve got to say I’m glad I did.

For the most part I have been following social customer care-related topics, and what has become apparent to me is how the interest in customer service is becoming more popular.

A search on ‘social media customer service’ brings back the following results amongst others:

The questions I was interested in were around the use of Quora as a customer service platform (I have provided the links to them above). My interest in the Quora questions were also linked to another question someone asked me recently:

More generally I am wondering whether there are now just too many competing platforms/channels (came across another at the weekend – Tumblr) and this could lead to overload as people try to master them all in the desperate attempt to make sure they aren’t ‘out of the loop’.

It’s a valid question and the constant proliferation of platforms and apps over the last 12 – 18 months has simply exacerbated the confusion people feel about entering the social customer space. Those companies who took their first few steps back in 2008 have established their presence and for them the discussion has moved on to more strategic issues around organisational structure.

For those companies still looking to take their first steps, don’t be daunted by the sheer volume of different platforms that currently exist and, don’t let the unique characteristics of these different platforms drive your strategy. And importantly, don’t let your lack of knowledge about social get in the way either. You may not get it, but your customers do. But this is a topic for another blog on another day.

Social customer care is about making choices. It is about understanding what your customers’ needs are and to what degree you are able to deliver on that. It is about understanding the different channels that exist, their unique characteristics, how they work with other channels, and how they will help you deliver your customer service proposition. It is about making informed decisions based on what you know. If you choose not to know, don’t lay the blame on social.

So whether it’s called Quora, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Posterous, Yammer, CoTweet, Flickr, Cofacio, AudioBoo, TagWhat, FourSquare or HootSuite don’t be daunted. Take your first small step to becoming informed today, because tomorrow your customer could be talking in a language you don’t understand.

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And what is that first small step?

Set up your Twitter account and do a search on something you’re interested in, your hobby, your next holiday, a film you want to see, a book you want to read. Or perhaps simply type in the name of the company you work for (or a competitor) and see what your or their customers are saying.

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