It is clear that social media is becoming an extremely powerful collaboration and communication tool that has permeated all aspects of our lives. More than ever, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have turned traditional mediums of communication on their heads. With a little creativity, anyone can step up onto their own virtual soap box and capture the attention of the world. Whether it be producing the next viral Flash Mob on YouTube or leveraging Twitter to incite violent riots, the power of social media can be remarkable when used for good and equally dangerous when in the wrong hands.
Although businesses from the B2B world tend to be laggards in their adoption of social media, the power of these tools can no longer be avoided. Increasingly, today’s customers demand responses to their inquiries delivered in a “timely” manner and if possible through the familiar social platforms they embrace. So does it make sense for professional services firms to quickly jump on the social media band wagon to deliver the best quality experience to their customers? The answer to this question in the B2B world is not that simple. The reality is, for the professional services industry the uncensored nature of social media can have harmful implications on companies by potentially derailing projects that drive the business and in some cases hurting the organization as a whole.
Here are 5 ways social media can hurt your professional services organization:
- Lack of control in the flow of information – This is especially dangerous for services firms that deliver complex projects. The fact is, very few professional services projects will be delivered without any bumps in the road. This being the case, the ability for the delivery team to control the sharing of information with customers can be at risk if shared using social media tools. One wrong turn can result in sensitive data landing in the wrong hands and resulting in project derailment.
- Setting the wrong expectations – The instantaneous two-way dialogue of social media can lead to unrealistic demands in responding to customer needs. Services firms can fall short on delivering a positive customer experience. Over promising and under delivering can only hurt successful delivery of service projects.
- Messages may get lost in translation – The inherent informal style, along with the “noise factor” resulting in the sheer volume of information delivered by social media tools can bring misguided and lost messages to the end customer. This can be very dangerous for professional services customers where the delivery of professional and concise information can mean the difference between project success and project disaster.
- Losing touch with the customer – Although for professional services companies, social media can enhance the regular dialogue with the customer, by the same token the quality of the relationship can hurt. Nothing can replace a human voice over the phone or a face-to-face meeting to build a trusted connection with customers. More often than not, we see social media creating the illusion of strong networks and relationships.
- Putting your reputation at risk – The greatest asset of any professional services organizations is its people. Attracting customers and talent will be dependent on your reputation in the marketplace. Social media in the wrong hands can very quickly disseminate false and/or misguided information with a single click of a mouse. Businesses are not immune to the dangers of this medium, and minimizing risk needs to be carefully considered.
Although for today’s professional services organizations social media is risky business, the ability to effectively collaborate and communicate better with customers shouldn’t be avoided. Developing a collaboration strategy needs to be carefully examined and it’s the role of Professional Services Automation (PSA) solutions to provide the platform to address the collaboration needs of services firms. Where social media fits within PSA remains to be seen. As end-users test the waters of this new medium, services firms must be careful in their application. Like with any new technology, organizations need to be ready for their impact and incorporate them into their business when they are ready.
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 15 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.
To learn more about Upland Software’s Enterprise PSA offering PSA go to: uplandsoftware.com/psa