Once upon a time, if you had a problem with the services offered by a company and you wished to complain, you had three options:
- Telephone them
- Write a stern letter
- Physically walk into their offices
We still have these options – sometimes. The problem is that all too often we can’t actually find out where or how to get in touch with them.
You look online, you find their website, you spend hours trying to find the “contact us” page, and when (if) you finally succeed, there is nothing of any use there! No physical address, no phone number, only a “fill in the contact form and somebody will be in touch“….
No, I know this isn’t always the case – but even those that do have a contact number you can’t be sure what country you are calling, nor how long you will spend listening to, “The caller knows you are waiting – your call is important to us, please hold the line…..”
And the physical address? A virtual office, based, no doubt, in “the cloud”.
So, if we can no longer send our stern letter, stamp our foot in the public foyer, or summon the patience of a saint whilst being cut off once again by a poorly paid member of the telephone customer service team, what can we do?
Customer Service and Social Media
We can, and we should, and indeed we do, take to Twitter.
The BBC published a great article entitled Why It Pays To Complain Via Twitter demonstrating how tweeting gets your gripes out there into the public domain. You know it’s coming now don’t you….but!
Airing your frustrations on Twitter will only illicit a customer service response that mirrors the overall customer service of the company in question. It is not a cure all answer to getting your grievances rectified.
Let me illustrate with real life examples….
As a company we had an issue with a laptopÂ – a top of the range laptop, used for work purposes and owned by a Director who has, er, mild OCD with his equipment and vehicles. The laptop broke – we are an IT support firm, we knew what was wrong. We began by emailing the company in question – when thisÂ elicited no response, we called – and got through to Egypt….after three weeks of nothing being done to help get the laptop repaired, and of being told it was our own fault and therefore we would have to pay (it was within warranty) I suggested taking to Twitter: “Do it!” was the response.
So I did. And guess what? The response on Twitter was as helpful as the email and phone calls were.
Now I’m not sure if you can clearly see the tweet that really threw me – it was sent at 10.35am and here are the key words in all their wonderful customer service glory:
FYI this Twitter account is only monitored during working hours……
Social media is still seen as “child’s play” as something you can get the intern or the new boy to do – but social media is an arena where your entire company culture and ethics are laid bare for the world to see.
We did eventually get our laptop repaired, but only after being put through to a manager in the UK via the phone – the Twitter account enabled us to share our problems with the world, but it didn’t help us to resolve them.
Flipping the coin and returning to my premise above that Twitter will only illicit a customer service response that mirrors the overall customer service of the company in question, are Brittany Ferries – this was a personal experience rather than a business one, but they had been so very helpful via email (responding within the hour, on a Sunday) that I took to Twitter to say thank you. They replied, at 8.46….pm.
Customer service and social media should go hand in hand – but if a company doesn’t hold much value in customer service in the first instance then taking to Twitter won’t help you much. And if your company is serious about offering top class customer service you need to be monitoring your social media channels before 10.35am and on weekends as well…..