Consultants' Corner

8 Symptoms of Insurers' Social Schizophrenia

Bruce Temkin
Insurance Experts' Forum, September 7, 2010

A few months ago, I tweeted about one of my posts post called XFINITY Is (Unfortunately) More Of The Same. Immediately afterwards, a nice woman from Comcast replied to my tweet and tried to change my opinion. This type of social media outreach is not unusual for Comcast, which has made a name for itself over the last few years with an active presence on Twitter.

Comcast, however, continues to receive less-than-stellar (I’m being nice) feedback on its customer service. The company managed to come in 125th and 126th out of 133 companies in Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index, and ended up in third place on MSN Money’s "2010 Customer Service Hall Of Shame."

So Comcast reaches out to strangers on Twitter, but doesn’t service customers very well when they contact Comcast. Something seems out of whack.

My take: Unfortunately, this type of behavior is becoming more common as the wave of social media excitement continues to crest. In order to better understand this disorder, I’ve given it a name: “Social Schizophrenia,” which I define as: providing levels of service in social media that differ significantly from service levels in other channels.

Does your company suffer from this ailment?

Answer the eight questions below to diagnose the symptoms. A single “yes” may indicate that your company has Social Schizophrenia.

1. Does your company have poor customer service ratings and aggressive goals for social media?

2. Does your company treat people with “influential” social media voices better than it treats other people, even good customers?

3. Has your company invested more in social media outreach than it has invested in improving its traditional service organization?

4. It is “cooler” in your company to be part of the social media team than it is to be a part of the customer service organization?

5. Are employees reaching out in social media more empowered to solve customer problems than other customer service agents?

6.Does your company’s social media team have more headcount than its voice of the customer team?

7. Does your company have separate organizations handling social media complaints than it does handling complaints that flow through other channels?

8. Is more than 20% of your company’s customer experience strategy focussed on social media?

Does this mean that companies should stay away from social media? No. But social media efforts can’t be used to mask poor service. If your company delivers poor or inconsistent experiences to customers, then fixing those problems should be the primary focus of your efforts. Eliminate poor experiences from happening; don’t chase down social media complaints after the fact.

If customers do run into problems, companies should take action when they complain directly to the company – embracing the five elements of my C.A.R.E.S. model for service recovery: communication, accountability, responsiveness, empathy, and solution. Once this is in place, companies can add social media outreach to the customers that fall through the cracks.

The bottom line: Use social media to augment, not avoid, the delivery of great service.

Bruce Temkin is customer experience transformist & managing partner at the Temkin Group.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Bruce using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at bruce@temkingroup.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (1)

Add AT&T to this list of Terrible Customer Care. Not only does their cell service stink but they do not provide customer care. No resolution to any problem, even when a supervisor promises to call back they never do!

Posted by: Rick B | September 10, 2010 12:05 PM

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