Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

Summary: 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.

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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 (a great bumper sticker :)

What happens to Intuit, and any other companies emulating its example, when its volunteer army doesn't show up for work?

Topics: Enterprise Software, Software, IT Employment, Social Enterprise

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10 comments
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  • Good grief

    Social media give me a break, so now they turn off the 1-800 numbers and tell you go to a web-site...

    I will NEVER do business with a company that does not have accountability and support.

    This is not the Soviet Union.
    Christian_<><
  • RE: Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

    Shouldn't Intuit have used this as an opportunity to make better use of the skills of these employees? Rather than having its staff answer the base questions that can be solved through consumer exchange, let them add real value by having them answer the harder, second level stuff, and engaging with the customer community in a more productive manner.

    If you think about it, these 320 people laid off can potentially ruin any good WOM in the online community. Employees are also consumers. A satisfied consumer will tell three others about a positive experience, a dissatisfied one will tell at least 10.
    @...
    • Good point

      The problem with public companies is that a lot of these types of
      measures are designed to curry favor with Wall Street rather than look at
      long term results.
      foremski
  • ClickaNerd | Lets Destabilize Intuit Work Force

    Brilliant!

    Lets destabilize the intuit technical support team by using free unaccountable wannabe technicians to do support on myspace and twitter.

    Let?s think about it? If Intuit techs see there jobs going away, will they promote this idea?

    NOT !!!

    Why not instead offer incentives and compensation packages to existing technicians for the extra efforts.

    It?s a proven science that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

    The cream will rise to the top and the SH?will sink as a natural event.

    Fire the losers and keep the winners.

    Simple!!!
    ClickaNerd2
  • The Geek Squad...what a joke.

    I can't tell you how many friends/customers computers I have had to resurrect, after the Geek Squad screwed them up. They are the most incompetent bunch of idiots I have every run accross.

    And as for Best Buy requiring(?) their applicants to have 250 "followers" for a person to get a job...if their techs are spending all day twittering, facebooking, or whatever other lame a$$ social networking they are participating in...just when the hell are these idiots actually FIXING computers?
    IT_Guy_z
  • What a mistake

    The best technicians generally are the worst at dealing with the carbon-based life forms.
    Too Old For IT
  • RE: Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

    I used to be one of those volunteers that would try to be helpful.
    Now I might think twice. But on the other hand the tech support
    people are probably in India anyway.
    mark16_15@...
  • RE: Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

    Social media has a role in communicating, but not "instead" of true customer service and support delivered by contact center agents.
    Bruce Dresser
  • Message has been deleted.

    hiteshthakur034
  • RE: Using social media to turn all staff into customer service reps

    Horrible Idea. Just another way to raise the bar so high as few will hit it, especially over the age of 30. But then again, how many Best Buy people you see over 30 that are not in Mgt? Around here it's quite limited.
    DAMANgoldberg