That’s kind of a scary question for many organizations. They talk about being socially transparent, dream of a lofty Klout score, and can only imagine the number of followers they’d attract. Then they imagine the horrible though of that hashtag trending because of some really bad situation – one for which they were caught totally unprepared. Then what?

We started pondering this question a while back and have finally started to put enough frame work around the issues that I thought I’d start what may become a series of blog posts. We’ve been watching some trends in the “socialization” of customer service and I’m starting to “see” what I think customer service organizations will look like in the next few years.

You can get some of our background information by visiting few of Michael’s posts and a few of our Association Night videos (fill in with copious links to SSU content) if you’re interested in the earlier work and thoughts which underlay this idea. (add links to: what is a tweetchat, the social association, etc.)

I believe over the next “bit” of time, we will experience less telephone and email traffic from a customer service perspective and more real-time chat and social network interaction with our “customers”. Some of it will be direct (where people actually bring a problem to us) but much of it will be indirect (someone leaves a problem comment or compliment somewhere on the ‘net). I don’t think this is a change in behavior as much as it is a change in communication style and technology evolution (people have always uses back channels to communicate – especially negative stuff).

There is lots of chatter on the ‘net these days about the “social organization”; techniques to encourage more social participation by your “customers”, ways to make your employees more “socially accessible”, increasing organization transparency through social engagement, etc.

In my mind – if we extended all of these techniques and objectives down the road a bit – don’t we ultimately reach the question “what if we used TweetChat for all of our customer interaction”?

Wouldn’t that be a “good” destination for a socially engaged, transparent, responsive organization – all of our customer service interactions right there – for all the world to see. If we weren’t responsive, they’d know, if we were rude, they’d know – that’s a lot of risk if you’re not confident.

Imagine what could happen if you actually embedded a TweetChat-like online chat on your website.

  1. You wouldn’t need to invest in some private label Online Chat tool for your site. Big savings and a reduced timeline to get it developed. The Twitter API makes this a very real possibility without a ton of effort. And the best part – Twitter is the infrastructure and responsible for the infrastructure – your support costs are almost $0.
  2. Your “branded” TweetChat could be used by your Members anytime to exchange ideas.Imagine the possibilities to innovate and drive your initiatives forward when groups of your Members choose to meet at 7:30 Tuesdays to discuss the “next big thing” for your industry. Think about the opportunities to attract non-members to the discussions – gain their thoughts and maybe draw them into your forward thinking organization.
  3. Your Member Services team would be naturally supporting your social media strategies just by interacting with the people in this channel. You’d reduce the additional overhead of needing to “make time” to train, or for them to open the networks to see if there was any activity, etc. It just happens.
  4. Transparency garners trust – you’d have that in spades!

This idea has been a pretty hot topic around our office – the team seems to like the idea and are bringing a lot of great considerations to the discussion. Stay tuned for some updates in this area as we continue to bake this into something more actionable.

What do you think your world would look like if all of the sudden your CSO (Chief Social Officer) decided you would use TweetChat for all of your Customer Service interactions?