A lot of companies are enamored with social media and looking for new ways to interact with their customers. Comcast, for example, boasts about its Twitter presence. But what happens when you phone customer service? I shouldn’t have to call the CEO’s office in Philadelphia to get a service issue resolved.

Another case in point: Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield. It took me four minutes of voice mail hell to get through to a live person this morning–for a customer service call that lasted less than one minute. And half of that time was me pointing out politely to the rep. that their voice mail system is abysmal.

Customer service has to start with how customers connect to you. All the social media tools in the world are worthless if you neglect the basics.