Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

Summary: Google, Facebook and Twitter may face trouble ahead if they don't get closer to their customers. Do these Internet darlings need better customer service?

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Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo may face trouble ahead if they don't get closer to their customers.

That's the argument from BNET's Steve Tobak. He argues that the good times won't last for Internet darlings because although the enable collaboration they don't have any customer service worth anything.

Tobak writes:

You see, the customers of Internet companies like Google and Facebook are pretty much everybody. How would you like to be in charge of keeping customer service costs down at a company that swings its doors wide open to a pretty big chunk of planet Earth’s population? Talk about a tough job.

Look, this is a serious problem. If they don’t figure out a way to stay close to their customers, they won’t survive. I don’t care how many users they have or how big their brands are today.

Tobak's argument goes like this:

Tobak's argument is fun to ponder. And Google is nearing that too-big phase where it could stumble. What Tobak misses though is that consumer interaction happens in many forms. Facebook is forging a relationship with consumers via the social network, its mea culpa over privacy changes and enabling pictures of your weekend adventures. Twitter has a similar story.

The big question is whether these online relationships are enduring. Nothing makes me feel better about Amazon, Verizon or any other company then getting a real helpful human on the phone.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Enterprise Software, Google, Software

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14 comments
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  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    I agree i have an issue with my daughters fb account and could not find one phone number for facebook. My wife was extremely pissed about this. So i think Mr. Tobak arguement is extremely valid. I am going to show this article to my wife as well. She will get a kick out of it
    MLHACK
    • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

      @MLHACK
      Your biggest issue is your allowing your kid on facebook. The rule is no one under 13 but any kid living in a parents house should not be allowed on that site as thats just a bad parental choice.
      Fletchguy
      • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

        @Fletchguy

        First off she never said the age. Second off who are you to Judge. There are people in their 20's living in parents houses still are they not suppose to be on facebook?
        clarkjlynn
  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    Google, Facebook and Twitter have customers??? well Google has some customers for its Enterprise Applications. Otherwise, these companies have users, not customers.

    You are not paying for your GMail, Facebook or Twitter accounts, people enjoying stuff from Apple and Amazon are paying for those. No comparison.
    Raju Das
    • Customers or Users, what the heck is the difference?

      If a company's value is dependent upon it's customers and or users, then it had better start paying attention to that "customer base". A "free" service is not the way to judge the value of a customer base. If that customer brings any kind of value to the company, then that customer should expect the company to start paying attention to his or her needs or concerns. A company with a "free" service can lose it's value it the users or "customers" started leaving and doing something else or using a competing service. What has saved Facebook and Twitter up to now is that, the competition is squandering the opportunity to take advantage of the problems that those companies are having and not paying close attention to.
      adornoe
      • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

        @adornoe@...
        The difference is a customer is paying money for an item or service. A user pays nothing and gets to use something for free. As being free no promise of support or tech help has been made or insinuated as it is when its a customer paying. huge difference if you don't see that then can't help you. It's kind of like the lazy people who think they are entitled to free everything from the government.free health care, free transportation, free money, and free food. You are not entitled to it but can part take in it. People today have become very lazy and expect to do nothing but get everything. If google charged for their service yes they should have timely support help like apple has to do with its crap products. If I give you a used car then Im not responsible for its upkeep or telling you how to drive it.
        Fletchguy
      • Fletchguy: This is NOT about whether one is a paying "customer" or not...

        It's about treating "users" as "customers" when the service is dependent upon that "user" base to keep operating and to keep the service's value. <br><br>A service, free or not, has value when it has customers and/or users. A user gives value to a company, and a company with no "users" has no value. Facebook's value, as an example, is in keeping its customers/users happy. If the users become unhappy, like what happened with MySpace, then the company's value deteriorates. <br><br>The analogy with "free" government services holds no water because, those government services aren't free either. A user or customer is giving up his time and eyes and mind to give Facebook/Google/Twitter, some value. It's not money, but that "client" base can be, and is being monetized. Without the users, those corporations would be worthless. <br><br>When a customer makes a purchase via eBay or Amazon, they get in, make the purchase, and get out, while leaving some money behind.<br><br>When a user of Twitter/Facebook/Google uses any of those services, they tend to spend a lot more time using those services, and it's that time that gives value to those services. Facebook users get in, stay in for a while, get out, and leave their time as a "monetizable" asset. Google and Twitter and Facebook, might each be more valuable as corporations than eBay or Amazon, and it's not because people made "hard" purchases with their money. People don't make hard purchases at Facebook, but they add real value to the company.<br><br>That's why a "free" service needs to consider their "users" as paying customers. Without those eyes and minds and time, they become completely worthless.<br><br>A better and truer analogy would be radio and TV stations, where people receive those broadcasts for "free". If a radio or TV station did not care too much about their customers/users/listeners/watchers, and didn't offer something worthwhile to watch or listen to, then, those stations would lose their audience fairly quickly and they could eventually have to close down. The services are "free", but the listeners/viewers are the "customers" who give those stations any value from the fact that, the audience can be turned into consumers of "advertising" which can turn into sales for the advertisers.
        adornoe
      • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

        @adornoe@...
        So, if I understood it correctly, your point is that because users bring value to the company they are entitled to get some value back in the form of customer service.

        But they are already receiving value in the form of using the products for free. If that exchange is unffair for the users then they are free to look for another provider. It's not like they are chained to a contract, is it?
        Joaquim Amado Lopes
      • Joaquim: There is still no difference between a

        if the "free" user is the kind of client that a company depends on in order to gain any value for the enterprise.<br><br>While it's true that a person might be getting a service for free, and he/she can leave at any time without repercussions, it's still incumbent upon a company, that depends on that user/customer, to keep them happy. Happy will always mean the service which one expects, free or not. Once a client base realizes that the company is taking them for granted, then that client base will start leaving, decreasing the value of the company more and more as the number of users decline.<br><br>Like I mentioned earlier, it's the same with radio and TV stations, who depend upon the "free" customers at home to watch and listen to their programming. If the customers aren't given what they want, then the ratings will dwindle, along with the advertising. If Facebook's or Twitter's ratings, aka: the number of users, decline, then so will it's value and it's ability to monetize the network. <br><br>People don't have to use Facebook or Twitter, but, Facebook and Twitter need those users in order to maintain or gain value. And, customer service is a big way to keep the users happy.
        adornoe
      • It's the company's decision...

        @adornoe@...
        ... how much it is willing to give away for free.

        There is a huge difference between "what a company should do" and "what would be smart for a company to do", no matter what the *users* (not customers) think they are entitled to receive for *free*.
        Joaquim Amado Lopes
  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    Of course they are not close enough to their customers, they just pay more attention to theit war! http://bit.ly/hEBCDe
    sunnylove
  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    If we are lucky things like facebook, twitter, and foursquare will soon be gone as they are the most useless influence on weak minded people ever.
    Fletchguy
  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    @FletchGuy Awesome feedback and useful insight. I mean seriously it's about time people got off their happy-clappy, everything groovy, ritalin-induced train-wreck of a life and roll around in the misery and mire with you.

    Some exceprts from today's post on this one article:
    "...bad parental choice"
    "...lazy people...bad products.."
    "...weak minded people..."

    OMG you are like like like...the Dalai Lama of teh interweb @Fletchguy. Please enlighten us with yet more of your insightful, reasoned and inspiring missives oh bringer of knowledge!

    Hugs x
    ScottyHB
  • RE: Google, Facebook, Twitter: Not close enough to customers?

    Your post also applies to their B2B client relationships, which many people describe as ?frosty?. Relationships with B2B clients are extremely important; especially when marketing budgets are tight. Only important point...most of the world?s greatest B2B relationship sellers didn't graduate from schools like Stanford and demonstrate near perfect SAT scores. Perhaps these companies should consider this when they are trying to recruit B2B sales professionals.
    MikeNY