The problem with big brands is that many times they tend to use the same customer service ‘approach’ across the board – a fatal mistake especially when we are talking about the internet. The rise of social media can prove fatal for companies that will not adapt according to the medium they are using – such as Twitter for example.
A few interesting insights into consumer behaviour:
INSIGHT #1 People like to complain online because it’s an effective way to quickly announce to many people why they are frustrated with a company. If they do it on Facebook all their friends will know about it and if one of them “LIKES” or shares their comment, then automatically their friends’ friends will know about it as well. The same goes for Twitter – the information would go out to almost anyone who is researching the company at the same time as well as anyone who did a general search afterwards.
INSIGHT#2 Customers want companies to answer questions through the channel that the conversation was initiated on, whether that be Twitter, email or phone. If someone tweets a company about a problem, replying with a phone number simply won’t do. If they wanted to call someone they would have done so in the first place and wouldn’t bother tweeting. The reason someone tweets is because they are looking for an immediate response and most probably have already tried the call center which left them frustrated.
INSIGHT #3 Social media is NOT a replacement for a call center but one service option amongst many for customers needing assistance.
INSIGHT#4 Twitter should be a tool to save the customer’s time, at his convenience, and not simply another step back to conventional customer service that suits big companies.
A week ago I was doing some research on Google Alerts to find out how to use alerts so companies can get notified in real time about mentions/articles/blogs that concern their brand. I used the name of a certain company with whom I had a very bad experience in the past which resulted in me unsubscribing from their services. I found a website devoted to issues customers had with this
Surprisingly I found an online board dedicated to users in the UK who have a complaint about the company (I will leave out their name but screenshots are available . By the time I wrote this blog post there were some 1668 complaints posted on their wall which included all of their products, from phone lines, to internet, to TV boxes etc.
I dug a bit deeper on the internet and found another blog post on a gaming web site explaining in detail by some sponsored gamers how the same company are lying about their double broadband speed in the UK presenting some very interesting technical details (links available).
I contacted this company and asked them if they are aware of those web sites hoping on their comments. As I chatted with them on Twitter I realised how this company is failing:
Problem 1: The site came into being because the telecommunication provider did not “listen” to all these people when they were complaining about their faulty product.
We exchanged a couple more tweets:
and concluded that:
Problem 2: The company is not able to identify or even understand the purpose of the web site. Those 1668 people who posted their complaints are not looking for solutions or support regarding the products, they are simply sharing their bad experiences and damaging the brand’s reputation at the same time. Customers felt that they are not appreciated or heard and that lead them to the decision to create that web log or to post their concerns.
I am not going to list what companies should do online in order to protect their reputation, brand name and loyalty as this is not my job or the intention of this blog post. The lesson to be learnt here is that if you leave your customers unsatisfied or do not train your customer service staff to the right level and educate them about how social media works, it will not go unnoticed.