Let’s bring some reality to this social media game

What is one of the most tossed around hot phrases when it comes to social media?

Well of course it’s the customer is a part of the conversation and companies are listening to us. Ya. Okay.

Look if you’re a Robert Scoble they’re listening. If you’re a Chris Brogan they’re listening. If you’re Jeff Pulver, or Stowe Boyd or Michael Arrington you can be pretty sure they’re listening. And no doubt if you’re a mommy-blogger they’re listening.

You and me? Not so much.

I was reminded of this when I was reading a post by Tara Hunt today where she was talking about how when she had complained about service that she had gotten at her bank she got a phone call the next day from her ‘now’ personal service agent.

I was working away at my computer today when my phone rang. I picked it up to hear the friendly voice of a representative from CIBC, the bank I deal with in Canada. “How are you today, Miss Hunt? I’m calling to see if I can help you with the issue you were having with CIBC the other day.” I paused to wait for it, “You know, the one you posted about online?”

Bingo. CIBC is using some tracking software to pick up mentions on Twitter and the blogs (most likely will reply to this post, too) and then saw that I have over 30k followers and that particular rant started a rather large conversation. Because of this, my ‘issue’ was escalated to a personal service department where I now have a personal service agent who I may call at any point with issues. Awwww. Isn’t that nice?

No. It’s strategic. And it’s a lovely and nice way to try to silence me. Like attracting more bees with honey. Or being the sun in the parable about the wind and sun in competition to remove the coat from the man. And the gentleman I chatted with at CIBC was awesome and said he’d relay all of my suggestions to the proper decision makers and gave me his personal number and released some money from the hold, but I’m still not satisfied.

Because, well, I don’t take bribes (#12) even when they don’t look like one. I want change. I don’t want to see change for me, I want to see change for everyone. I want banks to stop experimenting with how far they can push us before we cry ‘uncle’ on their policies and start thinking about how they can help us achieve our dreams with customer-empowering policies.

Customer-empowering policies. Who the hell are we trying to kid here. Banks do not want customer-empowering policies. Just about any multi-national corporation worth t heir billion dollar bank accounts doesn’t want customer-empowering policies. They just want to peg us off one by one, get some good press, and then get on with business.

You see that is why big business actually does like social media because it makes it easier to find the big mouths who could cause them a lot of grief. Then once found they pat them on the head and tell them how sorry they are and that their opinion really does matter so here’s a few hundred extra air miles, or here’s a few months of comped hotel stays.

That’s the game folks. Placate the big mouths, make your company look like it gives a shit and puff up the egos of a few bloggers in the meantime. Everyone walks away the winner. Well almost everyone.

You and me?

We still get treated like shit from our banks, we still have to put up with half-assed service and because we don’t have the big name no-one really gives a shit. It’s just a case of go away you insignificant consumer.

We are just a necessary evil that big business has to put up with because we keep funneling money in their direction regardless of how we’re treated. They know it, we know it and no amount of social media is going to change that unless of course you are some ‘famous’ blogger slash social media giant.

Gee .. almost sounds like the real world huh.