Tag Archives: customer service

Let’s use social media for good, not evil

thank-you-card

Social media gets such a bad press at times.

It’s no wonder when there are so many trolls relishing in the ability to make nasty, vindictive comments; a seemingly uncontrollable rumour-mill in which the unwitting victims are guilty until proven innocent and a tendency for people to unleash their angry side if something irritates or inconveniences them.

Managing social media accounts for an organisation you see on a day to day basis the willingness of people to take to Twitter or Facebook and have a right good whinge. And I am the first to admit that I have done the same on occasion (EE will certainly have felt my wrath a couple of times…)

Some of those moans are rightly justified (workmen carrying out noisy, non-urgent works outside your house at 5am), others a little more pedantic (person held up for one minute while bins are emptied) But either way, complaining via social media is quick, easy and popular.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m an advocate of using social media to contact organisations and let them know what’s going wrong. But also what’s going right too – and that’s where I think we could all help to spread a little more ‘love’ on social media.

For example, today we took our kids to get shoes in Clarks. We were served by a very pleasant and professional lady called Lindsey. She took the time to remember the kids’ names, and was very thorough in making sure we got what we came for and that the shoes were a really good fit for them. We left thinking less about how much we’d just spent on shoes (clue: a small fortune, Clarks ain’t cheap), but more about the good customer experience we’d had.

Customer service is a major ‘thing’ of mine, and its sadly a much rarer breed than it should be.

So I took to twitter to give a little praise where praise was due:

praise-for-clarks-on-twitter

It really didn’t take me any time at all, hopefully the message does get passed back and that Clarks employee – a great company ambassador – will get to feel that the effort she goes to to give great customer service is valued and has been appreciated. She’ll feel good and I feel good, because I had good service and because I’ve given a little something back.

As somebody who manages accounts for an organisation, it is always lovely to get some positive feedback, especially when it relates to a specific service or individual. And it’s nice to be able to pass that feedback back to that person (and their manager).

It’s easy to take to Twitter or Facebook when you’re angry and dissatisfied. And that’s fine. But let’s also remember to do the same when things go right, it might just make the world a slightly happier place, even if only for a little while.

 

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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.

 

The true ‘value’ of social media marketing

I was reading this post by Neville Hobson: ‘Why the C-suite don’t ‘get’ social media marketing – and how to change that’ the other day and it got me thinking.

It’s quite amazing to me that some people don’t want to accept that social media has changed the world, like it or not. People’s expectations of how companies will communicate with them have changed. Many people I know would be reluctant to use the services of a company which doesn’t have a website – and I think that this will increasingly apply to companies who have no social media presence.

As Neville Hobson says in his post, the best way to get the ‘powers that be’ to understand the value of social media is to get them on there themselves. Let them see for themselves the professional value that being on Twitter or LinkedIn can provide – as a way of networking, information gathering, profile raising, building trust. Once they understand that social media is not all about Justin Bieber and pictures of what you had for dinner, you will have their interest. Once they see how the companies and individuals they admire are using social media, they’ll start to want that for themselves and their company too.

As communications people, we have a duty to help the less social media savvy members of our organisation understand the value of social media. We flag up complaints, possible issues or negative feedback that people post about our organisation on social media. But are we as good at showcasing the positive interactions? You can understand why somebody only seeing the negative side of the picture would wonder: “why are we doing this?”

In the world of Local Government comms, we know, that when we answer a person’s question quickly, efficiently, and actually get their problem sorted out, they’re usually pleased. They’re happy that, with one tweet, they’ve managed to get their bin emptied, flytipping removed, streetlight fixed, whatever. Even the most frequent posters of complaints or issues on to a council’s social media accounts are only looking to have those issues dealt with, and when they are, usually there’ll be a “thanks”. Actually what they’re doing is being an active, engaged citizen, who cares about the place they live and likes to know that they only have to post a quick comment on Facebook, or a tweet, and that information will be passed on and dealt with. That’s pretty brilliant in anyone’s book.

Local authorities are not so worried about monetary ROI as the CEOs in Neville Hobson’s post. But of course time is precious, and everyone in the organisation wants to be sure that effort and resources are not wasted on anything which doesn’t demonstrate a true “value” of some sort.

So it’s important that when good things happen on social media, we’re sharing that with the people at the top, as well the less positive things. If we can get more of those positive examples noticed, that slightly intangible “value” of social media will start to be recognised more. It is about conversations, building relationships, and expanding customer service online into the places where our residents already are.

I’m sure there are far fewer social media sceptics at the top of organisations than there used to be – and comms has a vital role to play in helping the uninitiated understand what they’re missing out on. As for reputational risk – the risk of not using social media far outweighs the risk of doing so – it’s what your customers and stakeholders now expect of you.

It will soon be impossible to ignore the expectations of social media – if it isn’t already.