Will Trolls and Haters Kill Social Customer Care?

This post summarizes a conversation I had with Constantin Basturea of the Social Selves blog.


Recently, the Twitter customer service account at Bank of America received bad press for confusing an Occupy Wall Street activist, who was protesting against the bank, as a customer in need of help. When other Twitter users poked fun at the curious response by the bank, the bank’s Twitter team continued the mistake and treated the additional tweeps as if they were also customers. Then, the negative reviews of BofA grew.

Many brands see something like this and wonder whether social customer care will eventually fade away, as trolls and people who hate brands overwhelm a brand’s ability to engage customers in constructive conversations.

We believe social customer care will only continue to grow, in spite of the reality that haters and trolls will likely never go away, for the following reasons:

1. Customers will continue to demand social customer service.

For the average customer, the convenience of solving a problem faster and with less hassle will be worth it. Instead of shrinking in the face of a few bad apples, customers using social media to solve service or product issues will learn to go around trolls and ‘haters’ – the same way they do for the rest of their Internet experience.

2. The value proposition for brands will grow over time.

As long as brands can offer better, faster, cheaper customer service via social channels, they should keep at it and learn to live with the trolls — just like call centers live with angry people on the phone, and, frankly, just like consumers live with inconsiderate marketers who waste our time with spam and junk mail.

The Future

Companies will always need to continually improve their customer care processes, including training for social customer service agents; but, realistically, customers will care more about receiving great service when they need it, than whether a Twitter account was successfully trolled by someone that the customer doesn’t even know.

Technology is making it better. Not perfect, but better. Text analytics solutions are very smart these days, and making it easier and faster to separate customers with legitimate requests from trolls.

But there will always be a gap between how we expect to be treated as customers, and how any company can do it at scale. And the struggle to care for customers while also caring for internal SLAs will always require diligence within the brand’s customer care teams. Each brand should uniquely determine their best balance between (1) efficiency, (2) quality, (3) brand personality, (4) regulatory compliance, (5) costs and (6) customer value.

After all, the hard is what makes it great. (A League of Their Own)

One Response to Will Trolls and Haters Kill Social Customer Care?

  1. pratima August 14, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    I do feel that there should be balance between efficiency, quality, brand personality, etc.