Tag: customer service

My Twitter hero

ChequeSeveral weeks ago, I deposited a cheque for £122 into my local bank account, but it was paid in as $122. Anyone familiar with the foreign exchange rate will know this left me out of pocket.

So the next day I went back to the bank, and I was lucky enough to speak to the original teller who had processed the cheque. He assured me that he would fix it, and he’d call me when he was done.

Several days went by… nothing.

So I phoned the bank and – big surprise – I was directed straight to voicemail. The machine invited me to leave a message with my phone number so they could call me back, so I obliged.

Several days went by… nothing.

Barnstorming

Soon after, I finally got around to reading 3 Examples of Stellar Social Media Customer Service. All 3 examples are certainly worthy of the write-up, but one concerned me nevertheless.

The article stated:

Jennifer Hellum's shattered tableOne customer, Jennifer Hellum, sought customer service after the glass top on her Pottery Barn table shattered in the extreme Arizona heat last summer. Calling the customer service line and the store where she bought the table didn’t get her anywhere. A few weeks later, she posted photos of the tabletop explosion on Pottery Barn’s Facebook fan page. Within 30 minutes she had a call from a customer relations representative who worked with her to find a new tabletop and reimbursed her for it.

WTF?!

Calling both the customer service line and the store where she bought the table didn’t get her anywhere, but complaining on Facebook did.

Kudos to Pottery Barn’s social media team, but shame on the brand overall.

Monkey see, monkey do

Given my problem with the bank, I decided to take a leaf out of Jennifer Hellum’s book. I looked up ANZ Bank on Twitter, but I couldn’t find it. So I googled “ANZ Twitter” and stumbled upon Did ANZ open a new branch and forget to staff it? – not a good omen!

The article states:

Last year ANZ established a dedicated Twitter account called @ANZ_Responds to communicate with customers. The account sat dormant for many months before being shut down earlier this year.

A spokesperson for ANZ says the account was set up as a trial. “However, we found that most of our customers were happier to discuss their banking needs with us directly, at a branch, on the phone, or online.”

ROTFL!

I did, however, find @anzmoneymanager on Twitter. While ANZ MoneyManager is the bank’s online budgeting tool – ie something completely unrelated – I thought I’d give it a go and ask them for help anyway.

Thankfully they said yes and a few DMs later all was fixed.

So again…

WTF?!

Star struck

Is this what customer service has come to?

Crap service face to face. Crap service on the phone. Stellar service on social media.

Twitter hero

That’s no way to run a business.

I could draw a parallel to e-learning and bang on about maintaining consistency over multiple modes of delivery, but I figure that’s a no brainer so I won’t waste your time.

I just hope our service providers figure it out.

In the meantime, I feel sorry for my Twitter hero. Guilty by association, @anzmoneymanager will no doubt be pestered by the bank’s aggrieved customers, despite those customers being happier to discuss their banking needs directly, at a branch, on the phone, or online.
 

Smash your wall

The recent historic events in Egypt remind me of the Peaceful Revolution in East Berlin in 1989.

In both cases I believe the protest movement was catalysed by the church, whether directly or indirectly.

While the imams in Egypt reportedly implored their faithful not to take to the streets, the pastor of Leipzig’s Church of St Nicholas actively encouraged non-violent uprising via weekly “Peace Prayers”.

Regardless, the amassing of the population in both countries proved the tipping point and the surging will of the people prevailed.

On 9 October 1989 protesters marched out of the Nikolaikirche and into the city.

For me, the sorry saga of West Berlin’s enclavement epitomises the flawed command-and-control mentality shared by the likes of President Mubarak.

It’s a mentality that refuses to acknowledge its own faults, despite the cold facts:

At least 136 Germans died trying to cross the wall from East to West.

0 died trying to cross from West to East.

What was the Politburo thinking? Was ideology driving them to hold firm? Was blissful ignorance shielding them from the plight of their own citizens? Was individual gain incentivising them to maintain the status quo?

The Berlin Wall November 28, 1975 looking southeast

Unfortunately a similar walled-in mentality is alive and well in the corporate sector.

How often do we see things being done that ignore or even work against the interests of the customer? Typically the root cause is a company-centric model that can’t be bothered inconveniencing itself on behalf of its own corporate values.

Of course, as dedicated professionals, we have to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

I’ve seen peers resist enterprise social media because they don’t like Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve seen peers pussyfoot over m-learning because it’s all too hard.

At the height of the virtual craze, I even heard someone declare without an ounce of doubt: “There’s no money in Second Life”. (Evidently Ailin Graef didn’t get that memo.)

My point is, it doesn’t so much matter what we want. What really matters is what our customers want.

To determine that we need to ask them. Then we need to respond in kind, regardless of our preferences and prejudices.

Sure, we can barricade ourselves behind a wall – but only for a little while. Eventually we must surf the wave that rolls over it, or get dunked.
 

Social media: Prevention is better than cure

My previous article Social media: It’s not about the technology! focused on the internal use of social media by employees to import and share knowledge inside the organisation.

This article shifts its focus to the external use of social media by employees to export knowledge outside of the organisation.

Traditionally this is called marketing, customer service or public relations. From a learning perspective, it might also be called educating your customers.

Close-up of a wolf's head.

The big bad wolf

I think it’s fair to say that some companies still have a phobia about social media. Their fears are eloquently illustrated by Mark Smiciklas who in turn was inspired by Social Media Today’s article The Top Six Reasons Companies are Still Scared of Social Media.

Only recently an acquaintance of mine asked me:

What if someone says something negative about the company?

If you are wondering the same thing, allow me to ask three questions of my own:

Does your company rely on the generosity of its former employees?
Does your company rely on the ethics of its competitors?
Does your company rely on the benevolence of the general public?

If you answered “no” to these questions, but you don’t participate in the social media space, then I’m sorry to say that you are fooling yourself.

A whole bunch of people probably are saying something negative about your company – you just don’t know about it!

A complaint is a gift

The best service providers around the world make it really easy for customers to lodge complaints.

Instead of viewing complaint management as a cost, they see it as a priceless opportunity to fix problems, retain existing customers, and even win over new ones.

It shows transparency, responsiveness and accountability.

Doing nothing is not an option

Remember when you were a kid and you thought that by covering your eyes, no one could see you?

That’s what your company is doing if it doesn’t participate in external social media. You can choose to hear no evil, see no evil, but it will still be seen and heard by everyone else.

Reclaim control over your own brand by joining the conversation. Have your say. Defend yourself. Counter disinformation. Be heard.

At the same time, embrace the opportunity to engage with your customers. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Invite their feedback. Fix their problems. Service their needs. Knock their socks off.

If you don’t, what’s the worst that could happen?

I’ll refer this question to United Airlines…

Yep, that little ditty has attracted over 8 million views so far.

But it’s not just the clever memes you should worry about. It’s also the long tail of boring, low profile gripes that fester unanswered.

I’ve changed my mind about a restaurant or an online shop plenty of times because of negative comments about them on the web.

Three things you can do

These days, you can’t ignore the phenomenon that is social media. It’s far too popular for that.

So why not use some brain power and leverage it to your advantage?

Here are three things you can do:

1. Scan the social media space and respond to gripes against your company.

Don’t fight your customers. Help them.

2. Go a step further and create an alternative channel in which your customers can voice a complaint.

If a particular demographic of your customer base is hooked on social media, why not provide a Twitter presence or a Facebook page or a discussion forum in which to attract, contain and manage the discourse?

Seriously: how many of your customers will go to the trouble of finding the phone number of your call centre, navigate through your infuriating IVR, wait on hold for 15 minutes while listening to your inane music (or worse, ads), then explain their problem umpteen times as they get flick passed around the office.

Have you called your own call centre lately?

3. When someone does complain, nip it in the bud by responding immediately and appropriately.

Fix the problem rather than try to wriggle out of it.

Never give anyone the moral authority to go all out with a “United Breaks Guitars” style of complaint. That behaviour indicates exasperation on the part of the customer, which means it’s your fault.

If, however, it does happen, then respond to it in the very same forum. IMHO, United’s final mistake in the whole sorry saga was to fail to post a comment on YouTube saying something to the effect of: we are seriously concerned about your allegation, it doesn’t reflect our corporate values, we are investigating it immediately, and can you please contact us via x so that we can get more details from you.

I’d rather 8 million people saw that.

The moral of the story

A wise and handsome man once said, “If a man punches you in the face, you may sue him in court; but you will still have a broken nose.”

Everyone knows prevention is better than cure.