Last week, I read an interesting story on SEOmoz (no really, it’s applicable to people who don’t even know what SEO means!) about getting better customer service through Twitter.
To summarize, Rebecca wanted to cancel a Comcast sports package. She was told by the customer service representative (CSR) that she couldn’t do so, even though the season had just started. She couldn’t even talk the CSR into a prorated refund. Frustrated, Rebecca used Twitter to vent her annoyance.
Less than 12 minutes later, a Comcast representative tweeted back to her. He asked about the problem and they discussed it. Meanwhile, some of her followers responded to her initial tweet or even “retweeted” it (to repost a tweet on your own twitter feed). She and the twittering Comcast CSR eventually solved the problem and she got her refund. Comcast was very smart to have people use Twitter to fix problems.
That really drove home to me the power of blogging and even twitter. Twitter is essentially a micro blog, where anyone can publish their thoughts in 140 characters or less. “I hate comcast.” takes only fifteen. In some ways it’s more egalitarian than blogs. You don’t need to pay a dime to set up an account and even attract a number of followers (sure, you can do that on a WordPress.com or Blogger blog too, but Twitter accounts have the advantage of looking about the same).
A recent commenter on one of my articles about Direct Buy (rather enthusiastically) explained that Direct Buy had apparently bought out a site on infomercial scams, just to quash negative publicity. Because that site was showing up #2 in searches for Direct Buy.
Whether or not it’s the case, it’s certainly believable.
All in all, this is pretty good news for us consumers. Sometimes CSRs are impossible to work with. Even calling back may not help and may just feel like a waste of your time. But in the ideal market, consumers have as much power as anyone. And the internet is a great tool for using that power.
So if you can’t get through to a CSR, why not write a blog post about your experience? Or some tweets? Smart companies care about their reputation and would much rather have a negative blog post amended to say “They helped me get everything fixed, awesome!” than have it showing up in potential customer’s Twitter accounts or ranking for a search term on Google.
Then there’s the old-fashioned method: write. A real ink-and-paper letter. Find information of someone important at the company–president, etc, and address it to them. Or find/figure out their e-mail address (look at any company e-mail addresses and figure out their method of handling names: j_smith, jsmith, smithjohn, etc.) and e-mail the letter. If you do have a blog/twitter account, mention that you plan to spread the word of how well or poorly they handled it, depending on the outcome.
As someone pointed out to Rebecca, ideally she’d have gotten everything solved during the first phone call. But since she didn’t, it’s still much better that things are solved now than if they weren’t.
There’s all kinds of power you have as a consumer, the key is using it.
Have I written a lot about Twitter lately? It’s not intentional.