In the past, marketing was a broadcast. Advertising space was bought and a message was provided to an audience of potential customers. A company would craft a message and display it in hopes of casting a wide net and making a sale. Bombardment was key. On the consumer side, potential and existing customers had very few choices in how to communicate with these companies.
A best case scenario could be that a customer was connected to a dedicated customer service representative in a company with very centralized organizational structure. Many companies have stringent corporate guidelines to maintain a brand’s image.
Often, this customer service representative had a script as to how to address a customer’s concerns. For example, If a customer complained about Situation A, a rep was to respond with Solution A as dictated by the script. If a customer complained about Situation B, they were met with Solution B. There was very little freedom on the part of the customer service rep to offer complete customer satisfaction, tailored to a customer's unique situation. Customer service reps did not really have a chance to get to know the customers they were helping and were unable to have conversations with them. This did little to help build rapport between a company’s service reps and customers.
With social media as an inbound marketing tool, much about this type of interaction has changed. There is now an emphasis on pleasing a customer in new and surprising ways. Social media allows a customer to begin a conversation with a company in order to praise or complain. Customer service reps who manage social media accounts can access information from a customer’s profile. They can get to know who they are speaking with through dialogue and can steer the conversation in a way that is helpful to the customer and at the same time humanizes the company. There is very little corporate scripting and interactions are becoming more genuine.