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Not Liking Professional Social Media

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summer-wine

It’s was a tough hard Saturday, enjoyable and painful, I ache, but good. That week was hectic and the demand relentless. I made good progress but more to do. As tough and demanding the weeks work had been that Saturday gardening core really wore me out. Nothing wrong with hard work!

I enjoyed every physical, therapeutic and deep thinking moment of it. And at the end of the day, sun setting, grass cut, patio jet washed and all things looking where they should be, I achieve a sense of “in control” which sometimes is difficult to realise in a work environment, not to mention home life.

With a glass of red, steak on the BBQ I had a chance to catch up on some Social Media on the iPad, the standard past-time activity in this day and age.

I do most Social Media places to a greater or lesser extent. Wish I had msocial_media_icons_largeore time on them especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Yah, yah I am on Facebook but that is more a family and friends sort of thing, content fleeting, often assuming and sometimes heartfelt. Funny assuming videos and pictures of pets – yawn – but yes share away, you don’t have log in!

But Facebook isn’t the source for my curious mind to obtain professional views of the state of business practice and opportunity, which is always of interest. I turn to LinkedIn for professional business like content. I’m aware that this will be governed by who I am contented with, the nature for their business, my profession, and the path by which our network contention were established along with the typical profiling analytics to ensure push content is identified, advertising targeting maximised, and as a user I am fully informed. Got to keep the shareholders happy.

Some great articles were to be found and some great comments and news as to who now works where, who connected to whom and what’s going on etc . . . and of course the plethora of job adverts accompanied by the relentless product news. Yes!

All that stuff is cool. But what’s this? A give away “prize competition”, “happy Friday cupcake” picture, a “lol”, “omg”, a caption quiz, a maths conundrum, and on and on . . . . Not what I was looking for, not what I was expecting and now a jungle of stuff that I have to navigate through to find the real voices that I was so looking forward to.

I guess I’m guilty of a “like” or two on these types of “fun” posts, but it dawned on me, what the heck, I want to distinguish between my professional working social network and my more private fun network. I’ll buy the Time newspaper to be more fully informed and the Daily Mail for a joke. I have a choice based upon the publications editorial practice and positioning. On Social Media, self-governed editorial practice rules. This could become a problem!

Is it inevitable that all Social Networks will merge? Is it that our lives will be unable to distinguish between work, play and family time and zones? Broadsheets v’s Tabloids! The tracking of our likes, responses and posts are all part of your social media history and build a picture of us as a person, a professional, our values, interests, views, beliefs, likes and dislikes.

I do think for LinkedIn members as a starting point your profile and activity history is a Linkedinfundamental part of a business transaction worth, a professional currency. Linkedin should be professional fun yes, engaging and assuming content yes, but ultimately business related . . .

So we should “Like”, we should “Comment” and we should “Share”. But I worry as to where this is going. So should I be worried? Am I over reacting?

Lime Comm Share

Help get me out of here I have my serious hat on!

Socially Face-to-Face – service through the whites of their eyes – the distance of the Internet

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SM ServiceIt’s really great this social media thing. It is such a great space for education and awareness. The sheer volume of posts, blogs, reports, info-graph and all things. All supported by the sheer weight of big data making sense of things we couldn’t prove before whilst at times tearing down our historic perceptions of our past reality. I love it. But it can become a paranoiac minefield of self-harming opinion. It is almost akin to “Death by PowerPoint”.

Death by PowerPoint a common fatality of many a great and important message. That said pictures paint a thousand words and ShowTime can be fun. Thinking back on the multitude of events I have attended, the presentations that resonated most have to be those that told a personal story. A story you could relate. Not the slide or statistic that you had to jot down. I guess it is dependent on all having a shared experience – speaking to the masses! Data would suggest this is more often the case than not in our modern overly monitored, categories and processed lives.

I attended an event on customer service back in 2011 that had a lot of case studies and statistics on where, why and how to manage and deliver it supported by copious amounts or diagrams/slides showing best practice, architecture, tools etc. All very useful, informative but I have to confess with a retention score of Zero in creating a call to action or influencing me past the next speaker.

Funny I am in the midst of setting out an initiative and find I am producing copious number of slides to help galvanise my thoughts! A tool or a communication medium? That’s another blog! Where’s my mind-map?

Returning to this event and one particular presentation, well more like story-time.  A futurologist (I kid you not) working at BT, a Dr Nicola Millard delivered such a poignant and relevant message of the future of service engagement that it basically put to shame 80% of the previous days speeches, industry advice and undermined most of the solutions presented and best practices pitched.

She explained that the rate of change and the speed of consumer opinion is overwhelming and unstoppable in this connected social mobile Smartphone App futurologist .  That the reality is that no matter how hard companies try to perfect engagement they can only do so retrospectively which is often too late, too behind the curve to satisfy and putting at risk customers retention or limit any damage to the brand.

What made Dr Millard presentation so impactful was her delivery of this dilemma and the fact that she reached out to the audience by using the whole stage and not standing behind a lectern or referred to slides as the main delivery.

You could see the whites of her eyes the passion in her beliefs. She instilled confidence and therefore commanded attention. She spoke directly and enthusiastically and put “us” in the story recalling our everyday activities in relation to the proposition of “how to control the un-controllable” which was overly oopinionated customers using smartphone/social app at the point of service delivery –  a queue that was way too long against the backdrop of unattended service booths. #poorservice

BA TweetAnd the picture she painted is one that I have experienced personally. In situations where I have required assistance from some large organisations I have used social media (mainly Twitter) to achieve success. In most cases this has worked far better than traditional channels (LG, British Airways to name a few good ones).

Her positioning of this dilemma still resonates with me.  I hear in so many conversations I experience in business to this day. The need to change, modernise, and deliver “world class” customer service and perform better.  A constant challenge and at times struggle for most organisations. “It’s all about the platform” cries out a stressed out management team; “If we had a single view of the customer with all channels captured and . . . . .”

So how does Social Media and customer service close the gap, crosses the divide between the post, the like, the comment and shows the whites of it eyes? It must give that personal touch, that empathy or a call to actions that changes the nature of the broadcast to really be a service offering.

Do I have the answer? I guess Social Media fundamentally promotes tailored service and breaking the call centre-all script. Why? Because the transparency and collaboration that can develop from a single post or a single tweet can be immense and lasts forever in the Social Cloud. The conversation can become global quickly so containment and direct help is imperative to rescue the experience to maintain reputation and relevance with a customer.  But it can’t be one of process as that is not a good experience and this is very public.

SM SPSince that event way back in 2011 I am seeing and experiencing companies taking Social Media so much more seriously, not for the “Likes” alone, but for supportive interactions and turning this into positive, global and fully transparent PR opportunity of what a great company does when it needs to support its customers.

Great service will always starts with a personal touch, an experience, a human touch at the end of the post or send button. So I wouldn’t bet on transformational cost savings in service delivery through the transition into Social Media Customer Service practice. After all it is just another channel to manage! A ferociously public one which will require the good old Service Agent to manage as much as any “one on one” experiences on traditional channels. The existing internal training, couching and product/service training and CRM practices as is standard in any good service organisation will still be demanded and expected by your customers. So don’t look to save using Social Media as a “cheaper channel”, but look to improve your return creating a Social Media Service experience that shows them the whites of your eye and gets the word out that your a great Brand to work with.