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Social Media Is Not a Magic Bullet

Strategy is king. Though the internet has revolutionized our mediums and given us new tools to work with, success is still largely dictated by strategies that have been effective for years past. Yes, the newcomers are innovators, but their success stands on the shoulders of history. What works now has worked before. When it comes to customer service, the model of the day is Zappos. Zappos has great customer service, but before Zappos there was Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, and many others. These companies were icons of customer service when new media meant colored television.

So, here's the thing: customer service is about treating people like people. That means good customer service was possible long before the internet. While our pictures of timely responses, courtesy, and going the extra mile may look different online than they did offline, these things are still the fundamentals of good service.

There is a movement building momentum in the marketing world. It's not a bad idea, but like all movements there are those pulling the bandwagon, and those who are merely riding along. The idea is that social media will humanize corporations.

Unprecedented possibilities will open before our eyes. Citizens will chat merrily with corporations on Twitter. Brands will integrate seamlessly into our daily lives on Facebook. Best of all, every mistake made by giant hungry monoliths will be made known to the masses, and the sheer power of the people (also known as bad PR, bad luck, a shitstorm, and every CEO's worst nightmare) will transform companies worldwide into loveable organizations run by real, genuine, and kind human beings instead of the evil prawns running them today.

Good customer service was possible before the internet, and bad customer service will be around long after. As long as companies believe a new medium, instead of a new strategy, is the answer to all their problems things will never change. Good customer service results from being committed to doing right by your customers, no matter the cost incurred. The medium is irrelevant.

Written by Chris Allison on August 19, 2009

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Chris Allison