My experience with FaceBook seems to mean “business” as usual for FaceBook. A recent report on ABC 7 News shows FaceBook to be one of worst companies for customer service ranking them at the bottom along with MySpace. Consumer websites like Customer Service Scoreboard rank them as terrible.
Personal vs. Professional
Facebook tries to distinguish between personal and business use, but for many small business owners the distinction between our personal and professional lives are very blurry. We lean on personal friends and friends-of-friends for networking opportunities.
Once Facebook determined my activities to be too business-oriented, my account was personally disabled. I had 5000 friends and professional contacts, some of which are no longer accessible. I also was also no longer able to administer the “Fan Page” for my business once my personal page was disabled. I can’t help but notice that Facebook inextricably ties our “Fan Page” promotional pages to a personal account, seemingly validating the argument that a person’s personal and professional lives are often indistinguishable. Word of advice make sure you have administrators on your fan page or you’ll find yourself SOL…
POOR REFERRAL INTERFACE
The process of converting personal friends to fans is sometimes difficult as there is no specific tool for referring people to the fan page. Once a person’s personal profile has filled its maximum (5000) allotted friends, there is no mechanism to refer people requesting to be a friend to your fan page. I had maxed out my ability to add friends, yet there remained nearly 1800 people requesting to be my friend.
Therefore, in an effort to refer these people (who had solicited a friendship from me) to my fan page, I began writing them brief personal messages, explaining that my friendship “quota” was full and they should follow the company’s fan page. It appears now that this activated some arbitrary algorithm in Facebook’s code which irreversibly disabled my account. I still have not received a response from anyone at Facebook about how someone is supposed to “properly” notify friend-requesters about an alternate page.
Man vs. Machine
Perhaps the most aggravating reality in attempting to resolve this issue is that Facebook has made any human customer service interaction impossible. Phone number? Official Email address? Live Chat? Not available. Not available. And ironically not available.
In fact, there is no opportunity to receive a real human response to account issues. Facebook’s official position appears to be that it is a “platform” and is a service that can be used according to its ever evolving and often arbitrary rules. I suppose they have determined that their computers can distinguish between proper human friendship and that blurry line between friendly and business interaction.
The reality though is probably more closely related to the significant cost of employing a legitimate customer service labor force to confront and resolve real human issues taking place on its platform. Is it unreasonable to expect a company valued at nearly US$15 billion (and growing) not to accept some responsibility to its nearly 500 million worldwide customers/users? Is the internet’s position as a nearly free distribution a valid excuse for neglecting customers and users? Or is silicon valley’s antisocial nerd ethos winning a decades long battle against real human interaction?
Until the holy grail of nerd computing matures (artificial intelligence) to the point that computers can truly consider circumstance and human reason, I suggest we hold multi-billion dollar internet companies such as Facebook responsible for serving their customers/users.
Written By: Ann Lauren
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