So your organisation wants to use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Yammer, Posterous, wikis, forums, communities as part of your customer service proposition or perhaps to only use those channels. You prepare a business case, because that’s what your organisation has always done. You secure the resource you require – 2 FTE, because from a practical point of view, one of your call centre agents might go on holiday. You create your Twitter account, because Twitter is what everyone starts with. You’ve decided to go for a dedicated social customer care Twitter account using the ‘@nameofcompany+cares’ approach. Because we all care for our customers. The social customer care Twitter team sits within your customer service department and is forging close ties with PR and marketing. You’ve even talked to compliance, and you’ve got a ‘firestorm’ strategy worked out. You’ve also put together your social media guidelines, and yes, you’ve had a look at IBM’s social media computing guidelines. You’ve even got a Twitter customer satisfaction survey in place which can be sent via Twitter. You’re all set to send your first Tweet.

But engaging with your customers and responding to their complaints and queries is actually the easy bit. Have you thought about what it means internally to –

  • work collaboratively
  • empower your call centre agents or employees to converse with your customers directly
  • act openly and transparently
  • accept mistakes will be made
  • make decisions more quickly
  • be on public display 24/7
  • not be in absolute control of your brand
  • be part of the audience and not the ringmaster

Social customer care is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+. But that’s the traditional way of looking at social as simply a set of tools.

The challenge is to move beyond this. To understand that social is a way of thinking, an approach, a philosophy, a way of working. It is a way of engaging with your customers. It is a way of speaking to them in a shared and common language.

Brian Solis talks about benevolence. How do you teach your employees – benevolence, empathy and openness? How do you account for benevolence, empathy and openness on your P&L? How do you measure the productivity of your employees in terms of benevolence, empathy and openness?

New currencies are emerging alongside existing ones. We may not fully understand them, we may not fully accept them, but they are no less valid. We may not get ‘social’ on a personal level, but that shouldn’t stop our organisations becoming more social, more in tune with our customers, more able to talk to them in their language. The time has come, in the words of The Cluetrain Manifesto, for organisations to ‘get down off that camel!’

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