#1 Posted: 28 Oct 2011 11:21
Most people think that the use of Twitter and Facebook for customer service is about monitoring the comments that customers make about a company's products. If there are negative comments posted, the company responds. To take it a step further, some companies are being proactive and pushing content through social media channels. The content is focused on how to best use their products, information about updates and more. Well, this is just scratching the surface.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys, a division of Siemens. Vala understands social media better than most. We had an amazing discussion about how social media is impacting customer service. Companies are embracing this technology to enhance their customer service, for both external customers and internal customers. The big "aha" for me was that social media is no longer a communication tool just for people. Machines are communicating with other machines.
It's not a big deal that computers send messages to people. Traditionally it's been through email. It gets interesting when the delivery method is via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, etc. It gets even more interesting when the communication between two computers — that's machine to machine — uses Twitter and Facebook instead of typical hardwired or wireless technology.
Imagine one computer "talking" to another computer. The first computer detects a problem with the other computer and immediately Tweets an engineer to look into the problem. By the way, the remote computer and the server both have Twitter handles or Facebook usernames.
Imagine you are flying back from vacation. You land and you receive a Facebook message from the thermostat in your home. That's right, your thermostat sent you a message through your Facebook account, because thanks to GPS, the thermostat knows you are about 30 minutes away and wants to know what temperature you would like your home to be when you arrive.
Toyota has teamed up with Salesforce.com to create a private social network called Toyota Friend. The network will work through PC's, smart phones, iPads, etc. As an example, your car will send you a message via Facebook or Twitter to let you know when your tire pressure is low. It will even communicate with your dealer when the car needs maintenance. Of course the dealership will take advantage of this and contact the customer.
General Motor's OnStar has a system that emails the owner a monthly diagnostic checklist that covers hundreds of items such as tire pressure, fluid levels, brake pads, etc.
Vending machines are equipped with sensors to detect when the machines need to be refilled. Messages are sent to the local distributors or a warehouse informing them of the need to restock the machines — again using social media platforms.
As my new friend Vala Ashfar shared how companies are using social media in such non-traditional ways, I was truly amazed. This is just the beginning. And much of this is about improving customer service and enhancing the customer's experience!