Social media has drastically changed the way we communicate and share information.
No longer do you have to wait several days to receive letters in the post; now you can send an email or log in to Facebook or Twitter and send messages instantly.
Long distance communication is as simple as popping next door. However in the wave of social media are traditional forms of communication being left behind before their time?
We don’t talk anymore
Over the last ten years the mobile phone has developed from simply a portable phone into a portable computer. You can text, take pictures and videos, email, play games, download apps and post your exact location on Facebook for the world to see.
But alongside all that technology hidden under a variety of names, a mobile phone or a smart phone is still a phone designed to allow you to make calls wherever you are, as long as there is signal.
Surely this means that a telephone conversation is still considered important.
However this doesn’t seem to be the belief of certain businesses, my case in point is ASOS.
Recently I had a situation where an exchanged item was being delivered to the wrong address and it was impossible to speak to anyone about this. Instead of providing a customer service number which would give me a thousand options before being able to speak to a human being, I only had the option of email or Twitter.
I decided email would be considerably easier to explain my situation as I wasn’t restricted in word length. However I was restricted in the choice of subject line for my problem. I selected the most appropriate header listed and explained my problem fully in the body of my email. I received a very prompt yet generic reply which did not answer my question and helped me in no way.
I then resorted to Twitter, again I got a quick response which resulted in a handful of tweets back and forth as I tried to explain my dilemma and ultimately I was advised to email customer services.
I received the same generic reply.
As day three of this frustration continued the people handling the twitter account finally gave me some useful advice and a correct reference to quote in the subject header of my email and my problem was resolved. This however could have all been sorted out through a short telephone call.
Bouquets and brickbats for ASOS
I praise ASOS as a company for their use of social media and their desire to communicate with their consumers; they were the subject of my university dissertation. Having monitored their customer service Twitter feed and measured their response times, social media had appeared to be a simple and effective way to manage traditional customer issues. However when faced with a unique problem their use of social media proved to be a hindrance.
Despite social media having a massive impact on how we communicate, it is definitely not time to retire the traditional methods. The telephone is still a vital part of communications and is not something to be written off yet.
Organisations looking to embrace social media need to remember that limiting the way consumers communicate with them may in turn limit the number of consumers who look to do so.