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Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

There is a strong trend among corporations to use social media to turn nearly every one of their employees into customer service reps and evangelists.

Best Buy is an excellent example. It is using Twitter to answer technical queries and it even specifies a minimum of 250 Twitter followers for job applicants.

This is not good news for shy staff because their enthusiastic participation on Twitter of Facebook can be easily tracked and measured. Such metrics will surely be used in evaluating promotions and pay raises.

How far will it reach within an organization? That will be interesting to see.

Also, because of the blurring of personal and business lives, this means employees will be spamming their friends and family as they prove their worthiness to their bosses. This won’t make for happy staff but customers will certainly feel pampered.

Social media generated layoffs

Companies are also using social media to replace employees because of volunteers among their customers. Intuit is a good example of what could be termed “user generated layoffs.”

Here is a recent BusinessWeek article:

How Intuit Makes a Social Network Pay – BusinessWeek

For the company, this volunteer army means less need for paid technicians.

…Customers were not only asking technical questions, they were often outshining Intuit’s own tech support staff by answering 40% of the queries themselves.

…In early June the company said it is laying off 4% of its 8,000 employees. Executives say the job cuts didn’t stem directly from Live Community’s success, but Wilder points out that since Intuit’s community outreach began, “the number of calls to our customer service lines has been reduced. We don’t give out numbers, but there have been cost savings.”

This is great for Intuit but for how long? If its customers realize that their enthusiastic participation in answering questions results in job losses will they continue to be as enthusiastic?

Also, volunteers do it because they feel like it and then they generally move on to something else. Relying on a fly-by-night army of volunteers could become a problem.

This is the same difference as between bloggers and journalists. Bloggers have a day job and they don’t have to do it every day. Journalists do it every day.

Categories: General
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