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⚫️🟡 The Doorman Fallacy: Where Automation-Obsessed Marketers Fail Customers

Customers should benefit from automation, but never feel like they're talking to it

Hey, welcome to Mind Your Marketing. The weekly newsletter that gives you actionable social media advice for your brand.

Today, I’m looking at the pitfalls of over-automating your social media marketing. Specifically, looking at the doorman fallacy and why we should value social media/community managers highly.

Enjoy below!

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During the 1980s consultants recommended luxury hotels save money and increase profits by firing their doorman.

They figured by installing automatic and revolving doors that hotel guests could let themselves into the buildings, ultimately absolving the need for a front doorman.

Seems rational, right?

However, this move didn’t increase hotel profits––it had the opposite effect.

This is called the doorman fallacy, where you narrow the function of a job down to one set of particular tasks and optimize for those alone.

Because in reality, doormen don’t just open and close hotel doors they:

  • Keep the front entrance clean

  • Greet guests upon arrival

  • Give guests directions

  • Remove friction upon arrival by pointing guests in the right direction

  • Discourage loitering and illegal behavior

  • Give the hotel a heightened sense of prestige/perceived value

All in all, the job is more variable than meets the eye and ultimately adds quite a bit to a hotel experience.

So, what does this have to do with social media marketing?

This fallacy is a caution against underestimating the roles of your community managers and customer service teams. In a time where automation and AI-driven solutions like chatbots are increasingly touted for their efficiency and cost-saving potential, the doorman fallacy reminds us of the inherent value of human touch. Community managers and customer service reps do much more than answer generic FAQs; they:

  • Build relationships with customers

  • Understand nuanced customer needs

  • Handle the grey area issues that require empathy

  • Foster a sense of community and belonging among users

Their ability to convey empathy, offer personalized responses, and quickly adapt to unpredictable situations is crucial in shaping brand perception and loyalty.

I know personally, I can’t stand ‘talking’ with AI chatbots and automated message systems on social media.

The race to automate every part of the customer journey has left potential buyers stranded without nuance and leaning toward any competitor with an outstretched human hand.

In the quest to be tech-forward, let’s not lose the human touch in the process.

So instead of racing toward the next innovation in the name of cost-cutting, let's look at why keeping the human element can be important to our social media.

Keeping it real with commenters

AI and automation tools cannot read between the lines on social media. So, if you have a brand post that's taking off and people use slang in the comments section, you will benefit from having a human respond to them.

Comments give you another opportunity to let you build your brand and deepen relationships with customers.

Handling nuanced customer issues in real-time

Look at how Delta Airlines handled a specific request from a customer below. They responded to the issue in a timely manner and helped the customer. Automation would have led to a generic response and the customer becoming more flustered before their wife set off for travel.

Community, Not a Cost Center

When you start to shift your mindset around community managers, you'll realize they are not a cost center but a real business generator for your brand. It's hard to quantify, but we've all had great and poor interactions with brands we remember. The positive interactions fuel positive word-of-mouth marketing and increase the lifetime value of customers.

This was originally posted on Cave's blog.

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