Let me set the background here. I do Social Media Community Management for a national retailer, with over 1500 stores across Canada. Each store may vary in product assortment, pricing of course depending on location, hours of operation, delivery dates, and other factors. I have seen an increase in customers contacting us for information that is on our Corporate websites, or that will clearly differ from store to store, and it is not information that is expected to be at the Community Manager’s fingertips. I will research the answer after much back and forth with the customer to determine what exactly they’re looking for, which store they shop at, etc. but I do wonder what motivates them to have a back and forth conversation with a Community Manager about a store’s hours of operation for example rather than visit the Corporate website for that information. Is it just laziness?
- The Good Ole Days – when we were self-sufficient
Remember the old days when you wanted to know if your local baker could make a Frozen cake half chocolate half vanilla but replace Elsa’s face with your daughter’s, and by the way if I wanted to feed 150 people that cake what size would I need and what would be the cost, you’d actually pick up the phone (gasp), and call the baker, or even visit the baker to ask these questions? You’d never think of going to Facebook to ask these questions. What about if you wanted to know what time the drugstore closes you’d call them or even visit their website to see their hours? Or did your local grocer get that shipment of fresh peaches in – you’d call the store? Caveman days right? I remember in the not too long ago past we were more self sufficient when we wanted information, we did our own research. For the Community Manager to answer those questions, the Community Manager needs to probe the customer for more information, call the store, ask the same question, then relay the answer back to them. The Community Manager becomes the middleman, many times needing to go back and forth with the social media poster to ask for further clarification before calling the store to get the answer. When did the days of doing your own research disappear, and more importantly why?
2. The Current State – you do it for me
Customer: I wonder what time the store closes tonight? Goes on Twitter: @Company what time do you close tonight?
Community Manager: @Customer Happy to look into that for you, which location do you shop at? Or you may visit our website at email@example.com to search by your store.
Customer: @Company The one on Yonge Street
Community Manager: @Customer We have a couple on Yonge Street, which one……
This is a typical interaction between myself and a customer. Mind you, if the customer went to our Corporate website and selected the store, the information is right there. So why are they not doing that, and avoiding this back and forth? They clearly have internet as they are on Twitter. So what’s the reason?
My initial reaction is to say that it is a form of laziness where they won’t look up the information themselves, so I started to do some research to prove my theory. In one blog, the author states “social media provides immediate rewards with very little effort, making the brain rewire itself” (2017, January 15) Does Social Media Make People Lazy? Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2A1hEeq . That made me stop in my tracks, as the interaction in The Current State above is more common than an immediate reward with little effort. Indeed, the 30 seconds it takes to visit the Corporate website to get an answer is more immediate than the back and forth to get the necessary information to answer the question. So I felt that my theory could be wrong. Then I came across an article , where they said “Social media has made communicating with other people so easy that you now don’t actually need speak to anyone” Macale, S.(2011, August 15). 11 Ways Tech has Made Us Lazy. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2B3eSo2 and I started to think, is it that customers are looking for some sort of social interaction? Maybe they like the back and forth because of the human interaction.
4. Tech savvy, but lonely
My conclusion then is to believe that in this technology driven world of convenience, no-one wants to call or visit a store to get information, but on the other extreme people are lonely, and the cold way in which information is presented on websites is no longer sufficient, hence the middle ground of using technology to get information, but including that human social interaction as well. What do you think? Lazy? Or lonely?
Companies invest money to ensure that their Corporate websites have as much information as possible for their customers. So why do customers prefer to go to social media sites to engage with a human to get these answers? Are they too lazy to look the information up themselves? Or are they missing that human touch?
Has social media made us #Lazy or #Lonely when interacting with companies? What do you think?