I have written, talked about and debated the role of social media and customer service; I have even presented at a conference on the topic but never found the need to use social media for customer service myself. For me at least, the telephone has always seemed much more convenient.

But in a recent article in Clickz that caught my eye, the author, quoting from a study, predicted that social media will be the primary mode of communication—surpassing even the phone—between business and customers. The study went on to say that inside of five years, social media will account for 60 percent of the interactions and customer care will easily represent the major part of this. This raises a concern of scalability: can social media scale to the volumes needed for the primary communication channel? Surely this is not even possible. I asked this question of Seth Brewer, director of social media at The Hartford, and his response was very simple: “It has to scale, like it or not. As customers use social media more and more for daily activities, they will see it as a place to ask questions.”

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