Spend five minutes talking to a teacher about problems facing today’s youth and it seems pretty certain that one of the items near the top of the list is an enormous sense of entitlement. I would argue that this actually extends beyond just the youth.
And while I love social media, I also feel like we might be letting it get the best of us and turn us into monsters sometimes.
A common practice that businesses are adopting these days involves using social for customer service. A pretty sizable part of that undertaking requires that they monitor their social channels for mentions of their brand and any issues that customers might be having.
Now, it used to be that “filing a complaint,” as it were, was something that involved a decent amount of time and consideration. You either had to write a letter, which meant that you had to actually think for a little bit about what you wanted to say, or you had to go to the trouble of looking up a phone number and calling. There’s also a chance that you met with management face-to-face. You had to be prepared for those meetings, too.
Thanks to social media, there’s almost no thought involved anymore. Anyone with a Twitter account and the right followers can single-handedly spark a social media crisis for any company who crosses them – legitimately or otherwise.
And therein lies the problem. Social media, with all of its wonders, has granted us instant access to brands. We don’t have to go through the trouble of looking up contact information, writing letters, or making phone calls. All we have to do is go to Twitter.
And in a social world that moves at break-neck speeds, we want things to move quickly.
So when the grocery store is crowded right before a storm and we send a tweet to the company complaining about it, we want them to answer us right away and assure us that they were in the wrong. After all, the customer is always right… right?
See, I just don’t know. I think it’s more like “The customer is usually right, but when social media is involved, sometimes the customer is kind of ridiculous.”
That’s not as neat and catchy a saying, though.
In other words, we’re becoming very high maintenance as customers go. There’s virtually no barrier to our complaints, and we seem to feel that everything should be tailored exactly to our personal needs. It’s a “drop everything and serve me” kind of mentality.
It’s… a very similar sense of entitlement to that which seems to be plaguing our youth.
So what should be done?
First, I know it’s good to respond to as many customer complaints and concerns via social media as possible, but pick and choose your battles. Having an employee swear at a customer is a problem. The fact that a customer was upset with the wallpaper or that the room temperature was too hot or too cold for their liking is not a pressing matter.
When you try too hard to make everyone happy, the result is that you crack down on your employees – regardless of how great of a job they’re already doing or how hard they’re already working to please customers. When you’re too hard on them, they feel like they can’t win, and they go elsewhere.
That leads to a whole set of problems on its own.
Also: again, pick your battles. You can’t win them all, so don’t bend over backwards to try. I’m not saying you have to turn into Ryanair and fight back. But when @PrincessGurrrrl (fictitious name, as far as I know, but my apologies if that’s your actual Twitter handle) goes into full-on rant mode about how she doesn’t like the way you wrap silverware in your restaurant, just let it go, regardless of how hard she tries to get a reaction out of you.
The less you acknowledge and therefore encourage this behavior, the faster it will go away.
Third: pay attention to how influential the user is. There’s so much talk these days about social influence. Is it important? Is it not important? Should we be identifying each other by Twitter handle and Klout score? And so on and so forth.
When it comes to deciding which social media complaints are worth your time to reach out directly, influence can play an important role.
For example, if someone is trashing your business but they only have seventeen followers, that’s not quite the same as having someone trash your business to 17,000 followers, many of whom will be just as well-connected and good at getting people’s attention.
It’s important to note that this should not be the only factor at play. But it can be an important one.
Social media has a definite tendency to bring out the crazy in people. They feel that just because it’s easy for them to contact you with their complaints, it should be equally as easy for you to fix it and get right back to them, thereby making their lives easier. It’s all about them.
But that’s a fine line to walk when social media allows them to be so abusive. When that becomes the case, should it really be all about them? Should we continue to encourage that sense of entitlement by constantly bending over backwards to acknowledge it? Interested to hear your thoughts.
photo credit: ce pro