The customer is always right.
This a phrase that anyone working in customer service should be fully familiar with. While frequently known, albeit infrequently implemented in the “real world,” the saying has taken on a new meaning with the dawn of a new era on the Internet.
Social media has give a voice to the masses; a refuge the customer dealing with bouts of anxiety due to lack of true service. That scares many companies, large and small, and for good reason. The public, and very likely their target audience, now has access to uncensored reviews, testimonials, and all of the “good, bad, and the ugly” about all sorts of products and services.
Recently, I’ve been shopping around for Internet connection services. Always one to be a picky shopper, I chatted with at least three members of Comcast’s online sales crew (based in the Philippines). Incidentally, I also received three different quotes and related information regarding service packages. I had also spoken with (on the phone) AT&T – both their technical support and their customer service department. The tech support was fantastic and solved the issue I was experiencing. Their customer service department, however, only led in two frustrated hang-ups, after being transferred around between four phone representatives – without even being notified of it beforehand.
Twitter became the place I turned to in the midst of my frustration with online and phone customer service/sales with both AT&T and Comcast. Being on the Pacific coast, I mentioned @attjason in my Tweets twice and even asked a friend to do so, which she also did twice. Between these four tweets mentioning the AT&T Twitter representative for the West Coast, one reply was received, one private message was sent, but nothing to really solve the problem. The other AT&T customer service folks on Twitter are @attcustomercare (Molly for the East Coast), @attjohnathon (Johnathon for the Central USA), @attnatasha (Natasha for the Central USA), and @attsusan (Susan for the East Coast), for which I have no personal experience in dealing with.
For Comcast, I had mentioned @comcastcares (operated by Frank Eliason) twice. I only received one reply from @comcastcares specifically, which had asked me to e-mail them … and I hate e-mailing. I did receive one response from @comcastmelissa, whom also inquired into how she could help.
By this point, I was really frustrated with trying out all different avenues of contact both companies to get service. Again, AT&T had great technical support (which I suspect is in Israel, based upon accent and the name of the young man that helped me), but just lost customer support on the phone. @Attjason did send me a DM (private message) apologizing for my poor experience and did offer to do what he could, which was considerate, as I’m admittedly not an easy customer to deal with (I expect working service, knowledgeable employees, and real discounts).
What I ended up doing was calling Comcast for once and for all. It didn’t work out with the first person I spoke to, but I needed service. So, I took a deep breath, called back, and got an undoubtedly American young man that was one smooth operator. Within 5 minutes I had an appointment for next day installation, no deposit necessary, exactly what I wanted and nothing else. Of course, the time slot for the appointment was coming to a close, so I was irritated. @Comcastbonnie was really a trooper in dealing with me and my tweets. She never lost her cool and quickly pinpointed the reason for the delay, solved it, and the Comcast technician arrived within about 20 minutes of her informing me that he was on his way. He was perfectly friendly, efficient, and, hey, my stuff is working so far. That’s always good.
I am still a customer of both companies, albeit for different services. The customer representatives on Twitter really have made a difference in my experience … I think I’ll contact them first the next time I want to order anything. Why are they different, and better, than the majority of the e-chat and phone reps? Because this stuff is public. If a customer is upset, they’re not afraid to let their friends/followers know about it – and oftentimes their followers will share their frustrations and retweet it.
While incidents of good customer service rarely make it on Twitter, and are even more sparsely re-tweeted, if a high standard is implemented and maintained, there will at least be a subliminal positive message floating around … and a positive corporate image never hurt anybody. Kudos to the companies savvy enough to put smart, efficient, and friendly customer support representatives on social networks.
- Social Support: Are Companies Teaching Customers To Yell At Their Friends? (web-strategist.com)
- Customer service in the age of the retweet (nevillehobson.com)
- Comcast joins the Conversation (movabletype.com)
- ComcastCares’s Eliason Shares Twitter Tips (blogs.wsj.com)
- Three Top Ways to Damage Your Brand With Social Media (socialmediatoday.com)