I blogged about this in October LINK and related this to why Social Media is not in the C Suite for big brands either LINK
This hasn’t changed. I see improvements on Facebook Pages in terms of how they are organized and used for customer service or to engage with customers. I see more use of Twitter by Brands. But the reach is small compared to what Brand Websites, Store Fronts, Customer Service Phone Banks can offer. I have no problem helping a small slice of customers this way, especially if it saves money. Toll Free phone lines cost money. But does paying someone to monitor Facebook or Twitter cost more than someone answering phones? My guess is maybe today. Maybe not tomorrow. It is possible to one day outsource Social Media Customer Service to a low labor cost English speaking country with proper training.
Recently Fortune Magazine did a really nice covert test to see if they could get help via Twitter, and compared the results to Phone and Website. Interestingly enough the Phone worked best for Zappos. Here is the study, all tests were with big businesses asking for help with common tasks for customer service
I think the big key is sometimes we need people and we need timely response. If we get someone on the phone it is immediate and timely. Even if we are on hold 20 mins. If something can be automated via a Website to where we have control that works best in my opinion all around. But not all customer service needs can be solved that way. I just can’t imagine helping 20,000 people a day on a Facebook Page or via Twitter, though maybe one day Technology will get creative and allow those or similar networks to be a Portal vs the host location, and then channel the persons needs electronically via proprietary networks to the right person.
I think Banksy foresaw the death of telephone customer service just a bit prematurely!