I met up with Joshua March earlier today of Conversocial, who are doing some excellent things in the social media customer service space at the moment. Conversocial’s platform sets out to ‘manage customer service at scale in Facebook and Twitter’. They have identified a niche and are building up a solid and robust proposition. Meeting with Joshua today reminded me that I’ve not blogged for a few weeks, and that I had a number of half-written posts which I needed to finish. So keeping with the Facebook theme…
Over the last eight to twelve months or so the use of Facebook as a customer service platform has gained increasing popularity amongst organisations willing to expand their social customer care repertoire beyond Twitter.
There is no doubt that Facebook is becoming more and more embedded into the social landscape that many of us now increasingly inhabit. When I first noticed organisations, such as Thomas Cook, using Facebook for customer service I was somewhat perplexed: I couldn’t understand how it could be used or why someone would use it.
After deciding to spend a bit of time trying to understand this ‘F-space’ a bit more, I came to the realisation that Facebook was simply a platform that enabled people to ask a question, write a complaint or help someone else out. Since then, I have seen Facebook used for customer service in a number of different ways:
- Native functionality: Responding to complaints and questions posted to a company’s ‘Wall’
- Plug-in: Lithium allows their community platform to be directly plugged into Facebook (BT), while Get Satisfaction allows customers to ask a question, share an idea, report a problem or give praise (Thomas Cook). Requires that a specific tab is set up
- Info-tab: O2 adopts a slightly different approach and via their ‘O2 Gurus’ tab provides a number of short videos with handy tips and hints
- Interface: Providing a series of links back to the company’s FAQs or Help homepage from a customer support tab (Dell)
- Directory: List of relevant email addresses or phone numbers (Tesco) from a customer support tab
The purpose of this post is not to provide an analysis of these different approaches (I’ll leave that for an upcoming piece I’m writing looking at the use of Facebook as a customer service platform in more depth), but rather something that intrigued me following on from the recent announcements coming out of Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference. And that was the use of ‘verbs’ to describe someone’s activity. This is part of Facebook’s play for the ‘open graph’. Interestingly, and this is an aside, Lithium seems to overlook the power of the ‘open graph’ and the potential to exploit it, by not integrating its proposition into the Wall itself. Lithium’s approach creates another activity stream that itself needs to be resourced.
I like the idea of this ‘open graph’ and I like the idea of almost treating verbs as a hashtag or a trigger for an event or activity. But it made me think that in doing so, Facebook was also potentially rendering customer service itself to the level of a verb. Perhaps the verb becomes the service?
Resolve, fix, return, deliver, hate, solve, help, repair, complain, dislike, dissatisfied, fail…
In this way, the space (or disconnect) between the service required and the verb used to express it condenses; they become inextricably linked.
I’m not sure what the implications of this are yet, if anything, but it strikes me that words in the online/virtual space may well take on more meaning. In the same way, a QR code unlocks additional information about a product or service, so too the ‘verb’ within a Facebook context may unlock a further action or information, whether that is a resolution, a complaint or a question…