Social media has expanded or multiplied at what seems to be a faster rate than advances in computer hardware. Our phones, our games, our status, our photos, and our lives are shared with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people through new and innovative apps and processes on a daily basis. As a culture, the net generation is adopting and embracing this phenomenon but many of which do not understand the long term impact, be it negative or positive, that these social tools can bring. I would never call  myself a social entrepreneur but I began participating in social media both professionally and personally in order to learn from and understand how this technology could help others, add value for the organizations I support, and to begin building a brand for myself. This year, as I am witnessing and helping to adopt a more social culture, I feel we as employees or resources should extend further to our customers by utilizing social media in an attempt to provide support, build relationships, and publicly focus on customer quality and commitment.

As an application owner, I begged for this level of connectivity with my ‘customers’ (they were internal at the time) as it would have given me immediate insight into their questions, concerns, and problems.  Assuming they would use their social voices, connecting with and following these ‘customers’ using an internal or external tool would have greatly improved my visibility and would have allowed me to prioritize requests while delivering a personal and professional response. The non-technical side is in regard to relationships and quality. If you had a choice when you called, emailed, or IM‘d a support person, would you want them to have no idea who you are and what you are like as a person or would you want someone who is familiar with your role, even if you don’t know them personally, and that you see a face with their name, and have publicly viewable information in regard to their background, experience, and hobbies? My assumption is that the net generation and beyond wants the ladder of the two. Support is personal and now we have the right tools to make it personal in an innovative way.

If I can explain this concept properly to management, I would ask that we as a support team are allowed to optionally provide social channels of connectivity with our customers via an external service.  If you don’t want to share your social accounts or information, or if you don’t participate in online social media, then no problem. But for those that do and would like the ability to follow and connect with their customers, those customers need to know not only the names of those support resources, but how to connect with them online. The fastest way to show that you have and are willing to share a professional online presence is in your email signature. The second, build a LinkedIn account if you have not done so already and connect with or at least attempt to connect with every customer you support. Build your network, share your Tweets, your blogs, and your thoughts with these people. When customers connect and follow they will feel closer to you as an individual. In some cases you will notice that customers become more patient, respect and await for your response before escalating, and their loyalty to your organization and yourself increases. There are always exceptions to the rule and as I write this I’m assuming people act and behave as professionals and that they all have a common goal.