Social Media and the Age of Instant Customer Service Gratification

By Mark Evans - Monday, April 30th, 2012 at 7:30 am  

twitter unitedWe live in a world of instant gratification. It means we want things now, and we have a growing lack of patience when our demands aren’t instantly fulfilled.

This new reality is being fuelled by social media, which has provided a global platform for consumers to put pressure on brands to provide them with not stellar customer service but almost instantaneous response.

While this is a great landscape for consumers looking for a way to publicize their problems, complaints or issues, it has also put tremendous pressure on brands to react in real-time, often without the luxury of being able to ascertain what is happening.

The question is whether instant gratification when it comes to customer services is a good thing for consumers or brands. Does it make sense for a brand to respond to a tweet within minutes or even hours after it’s posted? Should consumers realistically expect brands to respond right away, or should brand respond at all?

These are challenging questions because social media has obviously changed the consumer-brand dynamic. Before social media, a complaint by a consumer would get swallowed by a 1-800 number or email; today, a complaint is a public and transparent creative that has the potential to quickly spread.

In many respects, the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other. With social media, consumers now have the upper hand, while brands are scrambling to figure out the new customer service paradigm and the rules of engagement.

Is this a good or healthy situation?

My take is it’s not a long-term proposition because the expectations among consumers are sky-high, and there is too much pressure on brands to dance as fast as they can.

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