Customer service – so much more than ‘just’ social media

An advert for EE popped into my Facebook feed the other day.

It annoyed me, because EE and I are in dispute.

And it got me thinking about the importance of customer service and consistency of brand, tone of voice and attitude each and every time it interacts with customers.

After upgrading to EE from Orange a few months back, my husband and I had weeks and weeks of problems, ranging from the wrong phones being delivered, broken phones, phone numbers not transferring across, then transferring across to the wrong phones… a long, boring and infuriating experience. I made many, many calls to their customer services, each time there was much tutting at their end (once even swearing) and blaming of the last person, new promises made that this new approach would fix the problem “within five working days” – inevitably that not being the case and the whole cycle repeating again… for weeks and weeks.

Even now, if my husband and I are in a room together, and somebody calls me, his phone will ring too, and vice versa. In fact my old phone, which the kids now use, will also ring if it’s not on aeroplane mode (which is usually is). But I’ve decided just to live with it, because I can’t face dealing with the company again and I’ve got no faith that they would be able to fix it, anyway.

After each of the calls I made to EE, they sent me an auto-text asking me to tell them how satisfied I was, from 1-10. After my final call, I decided to take their text survey. A lot of ‘0’s were involved. The final text asked me if I had anything else I wanted to add. I did. But they never tried to contact me to resolve the problem, and they never apologised.

I also went to the trouble of emailing EE, outlining the problems I’d had and how angry & frustrated I was. I never got a response.

The last time I spoke to a person at EE, it was because they billed me twice in error, and even though they said they had cancelled one of the bills, they took both amounts out of my account.  The man on the phone basically just laughed when  tried to explain how upset I was and said I could contact my bank and refuse the payment. I did that but I was concerned that this would register as an non payment, so asked the man in customer services to call me back when he had amended the records to show that the amount was no due. He promised to, but he never called me back.

During all this, I also tweeted my frustration with EE. A couple of days later I got a tweet back, offering to help. But the help amounted to nothing more than referring me back to customer services. Thanks.

So when the ad for EE popped up in my Facebook newsfeed the other day, I clicked on comments and saw a lot of other people sharing their own bad experiences with EE – so I gave into temptation and added my own. (Ooh, that felt good.)

A day or two later, I got a reply. “Sorry to hear that Gemma, if you’d like to PM us we can look into it for you”.

Sadly, this willingness to help is too little, too late. The damage is done and they will never get my custom again.

I believe that social media is a vital part of customer service for any organisation or brand. But if the experiences you have in every other dealing with a company are so negative, you could have the best social media team in the world and they couldn’t turn that around.

And far from creating brand advocates, if you’re not careful you’re creating the exact opposite – people who will go out of their way to warn friends and family not to use your company and who will delight in retelling negative stories. This is the ‘Trip Advisor generation’, after all.

So, good luck to EE’s social team. But no matter what they try to do to engage with customers online won’t be worth a carrot if the rest of the company isn’t trying to do the same.

 

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