A Greet or a Tweet – Social Media Gets Personal

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a big fan of personal communication and connections? In case I don’t say it enough, yes, I am. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the annual AEM Marketing Conference in Austin, and spent some great quality time with several colleagues. From catching up with a client and getting to know my current industry friends better, to meeting several new folks who I hope will become good friends, there was never a dull moment. Though we’re all able to stay in touch via email, LinkedIn and other forms of communication, nothing beats seeing these people face-to-face. And then of course, there were the seminars and speakers, which were all very good. I was able to take away something from each and every one. In fact, one presenter and one seminar managed to challenge my beliefs on personal communication, and had me thinking about the topic in a whole new way.

The seminar was on social media, which, as we all know, has emerged as an extremely valuable medium, not only for marketing, but communication as well. Companies are using everything from blogs to Twitter to better communicate with their audiences, and thus, taking customer service to a whole new level. Case in point: The speaker’s own personal experience with her bank. Long story short, her bank made an error, and when she called the branch office to have the error corrected, she was “greeted” by an automated phone system – not what you want to hear when you’re expecting to speak one-on-one with a live representative. Multiple menus and several minutes later, it appeared as though she made it through to the proper person – but instead, was sent straight to voicemail. Needless to say, she was frustrated. So she took a different approach and used the bank’s Twitter page to voice her complaint. Within two minutes, she had a response from a representative and the situation was handled right then and there – two minutes response time! Now how’s that for customer service! By the way, guess how long it took the bank representative to respond to the voicemail complaint? Two days! Not impressive.

This speaker made me realize just how valuable social media is as an opportunity to provide fast, personal and quality customer service, and a true connection with an audience. Sure, I always looked at it as a great way to reach an audience, get a conversation going and create a lukewarm connection, but I never would have gone so far as to call it “personal”. Now I admit, my thoughts are changing – but I’ve said it before and I’ll always say it again, nothing beats face-to-face! I will always be stubborn and stand firm on that one.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel social media has a place in creating truly personal connections, or do you still view it as impersonal and a far cry from face-to-face? One step further, has your company used social media as a way to provide a personal, quality customer experience?