Tipping Priority via Social Media; is this fair business practice?

Social media has made the most significant impact in my work environment, as it has paved a new road for people of all walks of life to bitch. Let me provide some background on what I do for a living. I lead a team responsible for client satisfaction for a government organization that provides a service to the public that is highly used on a daily basis. In providing this service we are highly concerned with customer service, but need to do this under constraints from government regulations that must be adhered to. In the past, handling complaints from the public followed a structured process based on `first come first serve`, received through our website, or by telephone, with a few clearly defined exceptions. Social media has quickly created a whirlwind in that structure that ultimately led to a change in how our complaints are handled. Thanks to YouTube, Pinterest and especially Twitter, we are a new addition to the communications branch and dedicated to decipher changing priorities based on how well a customer has used social media to formalize their complaint. And this is not a trend but becoming common practice in how customers complain. http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/may/21/customer-complaints-social-media-rise

Not to be misunderstood, I do enjoy my work, even if it is dealing with people`s complaints. What I dislike is being manipulated into taking one concern over the other simply because that concern reached out to a mass audience and a corporation must take reputational factors into consideration. It is survival of the savviest. Those most familiar with social media outlets routinely bump the queue to have their issue resolved first. The poor fool who has not tapped into Twitter, Facebook and or YouTube is left waiting for an acknowledgment of any kind to know his/her concern has been heard and will be addressed.

The biggest pain in my neck is Twitter. Not only is there a massive audience that has no reservations no providing their own opinion on a complaint but the issue is no longer a private one between the complainant and the organization. With Twitter the public plays a role in feeding into a complaint and giving it more emphasis, but in addition, stakeholders now can provide their two cents on what someone should have expected from our service. And most of the times these publicized expectations are incorrect. Twitter is like rapid fire, and keeps us on our toes to tame or put these fires out, professionally and courteously, attempting to resolve the issue in a private manner. Resolving complaints and ensuring the complainants are satisfied with the resolution to their concerns is now a continuously evolving challenge thanks to social media.

Should there be a process to avoid tipping the scale in favor of those who have used social media to make their concerns public? This raises the question of economic status and catering to those that can afford having the access to technology.  There is an existing “digital divide” between those who have access and and those less economically fortunate that do not have access to the internet and electronic devices used to participate in social media. http://www.digitalresponsibility.org/digital-divide-the-technology-gap-between-rich-and-poor/  Is it ethical to leave those that do not have access to the internet and data in limbo for a response? Accessiblity rights are in place for the disabled to access a variety of venues and participate in our communities. The right to education has included children of less economically fortunate families to receive basic education. Will our future include digital rights to include all members of our communities equal access to what is becoming a primary way of making your voice heard?

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5 thoughts on “Tipping Priority via Social Media; is this fair business practice?

  1. Very true! I also use Twitter for work and take in customer complaints through it. It can be frustrating to see them get better service than our older members who have not embraced the technology.

  2. I agree and use those tactics to my advantage when a corporation decides it wants to ignore people by doing business unethically. I agree people can go to far and have a hard time minding their own business. Your comment about putting out fires pretty much sums it up with regard to Twitter. Good luck….

  3. I believe the sayings “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and “the one who talks the loudest gets the most attention” are very apt descriptions of complaints on social media. Social media is essentially a bullhorn when it comes to customer care. I manage the social media channels for the company I work for and a large part of that is social care ie. handling all the complaints, issues and questions that are posted on Facebook and Twitter. We have set very short turnaround times for acknowledging and dealing with those complaints. Companies have to adapt to the ever-changing and evolving social landscape, as the public adopts new methods of communication. These methods are very public which heightened their need to be handled quickly and with priority. Even before social media this was the same – people who were able to get access to platforms with a larger and more public audience were dealt with more quickly (newspapers, television). Companies need to allocate separate resources for handling social media complaints due to their urgent and public nature, and have other resources that deal with traditional methods of complaints and questions.

  4. Social media has made it very easy for the dissatisfied customer to complain. The doors to venting/ranting/letting off steam are open 24/7 without any form of regulation. On top of this, add a lack of person-to-person contact and a maelstrom of dissatisfaction is easy. Gone are the days of polite discourse in this digital era. I often wonder if this is progress.

  5. Pingback: The internet – Essential service or equal right? – Algonquin College Social Media Certificate Program

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