Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

I recently had an experience where I was unable to get a poor customer service issue resolved using the customer service channels provided by the company with which I was dealing. I had contacted them repeatedly via their customer service email address, only to receive stock replies saying they were looking into my inquiry. Finally I received a different stock email reply: We’re sorry, it’s been more than 60 days since you placed your order, please call our customer service number.

So I called them. A massive automated phone tree led me to 15 minutes of the most horrid hold MUSAK I had ever been unfortunate enough to experience.

So, out of shear frustration I tweeted about it and used the name of the company in the tweet. The issue was resolved to my satisfaction in less than 15 minutes.

Really? If the only customer service they intended to provide was a response to angry tweets, they should just state that up front and save everyone a lot of grief.

A coworker stopped by my desk on Friday to say that she had just had a similar experience—hers was with a local affiliate of a national company. Even face-to-face visits with the business were unable to provide resolution, but she knew my story, so she opened a twitter account specifically to tweet about her dissatisfaction. The issue was resolved almost immediately.

Dear Business Owners,
Only providing customer service when someone tweets angrily about your company is NOT customer service.
Your customers

It seems as if everyone has jumped on the social media bandwagon, and it is powerful. The connections and networks can accomplish great things. Business owners who are not monitoring twitter, facebook, foursquare and pinterest are probably losing out. However, social media are for building relationships with your customers, not monitoring channels and shooting down problems when your systems don’t work—especially if you have no intention of taking corrective action to fix your existing systems.

Social media do not replace genuine customer service—caring about the quality of product you sell, the way you deliver it and the way your customer feels after having interacted with you and your company.

If you are relying on twitter to catch all the complaints, you are going to lose. Because there’s word of mouth, and people blog, and new social media platforms are emerging and dying almost daily.

One recent study indicated that preteens and teens are turning increasingly to texting and not Facebook and twitter because they don’t want to be where their parents are. The upcoming generations may actually be moving AWAY from social media. They’ll be texting all their friends about poor customer service, and you may not be privvy to that message.

Things are valued when they are rare. A service person who really does a job well, taking pride in the work and the product is rare. A business owner who wants customers to have the best possible experience at their establishment is rare. I know that when I find those kinds of businesses, those are the establishments that I patronize, where I spend my money. Often those are local businesses for whom social media will only be a small part of the consumer outreach.

A big business that can provide that kind of customer service? Practically extinct, I’m sad to say. But wow, what an advantage over the competition if somebody could pull it off. The social media universe would be a-buzz with the almost unbelievable, certainly unparalleled news of rapidly provided good customer service by a large corporation.

I know it’s something I would like to tweet.

© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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