Manage Customer’s Expectations In Social Channels — Save The Brand’s Ass

I am not a social media fan boy, but I recently had a customer service experience enabled by social media that gave me new found respect for the channel (as a customer service opportunity of untold magnitude).

More on my story in a minute, but first, let’s have a view from the mountaintop.

Open Forum points to a new study commissioned by Conversocial and conducted by New York University professor Liel Liebovitz.

The report argues that “businesses seem to be struggling to deal with the volume of communication on Facebook and Twitter; they aren’t equipped to deal with this new public forum and issues are slipping through the cracks.”

Confronted with unanswered complaints on a company’s social media site, 88 percent of customers said they’d be either somewhat less likely or far less likely to do business with the company in the future.

Other findings of the report: Half of consumers use social media to communicate with companies and more than three-quarters (78 percent) think social media platforms will either replace other forms of customer service entirely, or will become the most popular form.

Three in four believe in social media as a customer service channel, regardless of what brand managers, CMOs and others might think. I have to say, I am now one of the majority of believers, thanks to the commitment that AT&T Wireless has brought to bare.

After talking to three AT&T Wireless customer service reps on the phone last Friday, and getting nowhere at all regarding the problem — AT&T Wireless erroneously added a fourth line to my account, and then wouldn’t remove it or the charges associated with it without a contract buyout — I finally hung up in frustration and considered breaking all of the above contracts to go to another carrier. In short, I was extremely bent out of shape by my phone interactions, and by the issue itself.

I will admit, I sometimes bristle when I encounter complaints on Twitter about a bad flight, hotel or restaurant experience. I bristle because it’s a private matter and the there’s a desperateness to it all. And a threat. Yet, the need to be heard is real and so are the word-of-mouth networks many ordinary people have digitally constructed.

The other day I needed to be heard. I turned to Twitter, not to shame AT&T into action, rather to vent and to see if any action on my behalf was possible via this alternate route. It was that or go back into the retail location, recount the details once again and hope for the best.

Happily, as soon as the Social Media Team at AT&T Wireless took note of my situation, the whole tenor of the flare up changed. Now, I was in the hands of a proactive professional, able to think on his feet and empowered by his employer to solve problems. That didn’t change the fact that the problem existed in the first place, but it sure did put a different face on a company I was viewing as deaf, dumb and blind.

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About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.