I read an interesting blog post by Sue Barret sparked by a Harvard Business Review article that argues that “customer delight” is less important than making life easier for your customers.

Hmmm. In so many ways – the two are one, right?

This got me thinking. If we are trying to create great customer experiences while ALSO trying to make life easier for customers to drive loyalty – isn’t there a dangerous possibility that adding social media as a channel could do neither of these things?

What I mean is that unless carefully plotted out – adding social communication channels to your customer facing initiatives can only add complexity and confusion – for both the customer and your employees. Jumping in to a social engagement strategy without first creating rigid and clear escalation rules, as well as creating a succinct but encompassing messaging platform (or at least an easily accessed central knowledge base) can lead to support issues falling into black holes, and lower level employees communicating incomplete or worse incorrect messages to potential and existing customers.

Look, it is difficult to solve customer issues on twitter and through facebook in any mass produced manner. That is why contact centers are an expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive aspect of many smaller and mid-sized businesses. And as I’ve noted in the past – social is not a band aid or a cheap/quick fix to an incomplete support and service initiative.

So, when you start to add social and create use cases around social media as it pertains to customer-facing scenarios, ask this question: “Will this make it easier for a customer to get what they need?”

If the answer is not a resounding “Yes!” in all cases, rethink that decision.