Now You Can be the Squeaky Wheel, Thanks to Social Media

Twitter for customer service is the new black, ever since Frank Eliason (@FrankEliason) started tweeting as @comcastcares. That seems like ages ago.

There’s something empowering about screaming into the vastness of the intertubes and actually getting a response from a ginormous corporation.

Anyway, I’ve recently taken to social media to be the squeaky wheel, first with Expedia, then this week with Sprint.

I won’t flog the exact situations, but in both cases, I tried traditional methods first via the good old telephone machine. Not surprisingly, I got nowhere pleading my case over the phone, or rather, I got somewhere, but not to the right place.

Undeterred, I decided in both cases to air my displeasure over Twitter, perhaps not my best moments, but Twitter has always been a place for nerds to complain about, well, everything. We aim to keep it that way.

In both cases, I got pretty quick @ replies from official company accounts, and in both cases, this helped get my cases to people who were actually able to help. Sprint actually has a social media response team, which sounds pretty serious.

Anyway, as a consumer, I’m elated that my intertubes fixation actually helps me GSD.

Anyone have social media success stories to share?

Find the comments.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

7 comments

  1. In my view, a “company cares” Twitter account would enjoy its best success if it were backed up with a superior internal customer issue resolution system.

    Yet in your cases and others, the Twitter tactic seems to work when more traditional avenues don’t.

    My question is “why”?

    If it’s because the Twitter people are more knowledgeable about dispute resolution than traditional telephone operators, then why aren’t the traditional telephone operators more knowledgeable?

    If it’s because the companies place a higher priority on resolving “public” issues (tweets, blog posts, public complaints on websites, etc.), then why would anyone contact a company privately?

  2. I believe these accounts are backed by a good issue resolution system, but as I say, it’s a squeaky wheel problem. Plus, the social media side may have more power to address issues than the average call center supervisor.

    Twitter (and internets generally) provides an easy and wide audience, and if you hit a hot button issue, you could find a landslide of popular support, creating a veritable PR disaster.

    As of now, I think it’s the latter of your two ifs. There may be an air of overreacting to Twitter to control problems and appear responsive in the medium, and let’s be honest, if a company is investing in monitoring social media, the investors want real case studies to show ROI and customer satisfaction.

  3. …I have also experienced the opposite, where issues raised on eg twitter or Facebook towards “official” company accounts have been left unanswered. In these cases a phone call, or a mail through the contact page on their site, have provided answers fairly fast (after my failure to get answer through social media).

    The issue for me as consumer is that it’s getting harder to know which channel is most efficient to reach a specific company – I often end up submitting the same request through all available channels, not very efficient for me or them…

    Sure, companies are maturing. But slowly…

  4. Sure, depending on the size of the company, you might not get a reply. It helps to do some legwork first to see if they have active accounts. The type of company will also help you pick the right channel, social media, email, phone; I figured Expedia and Sprint, given their businesses, would be active.

    If I had a problem with a credit card company, I wouldn’t go to a social media expecting help.You’re right that finding the right channel is difficult. However, leaving a tweet dangling out there is easier than calling, navigating a phone tree, waiting on hold, and waiting to talk to a supervisor.

    FWIW I don’t think social media indicates that companies are maturing, depending on what you meant by that. I think they’re just protecting their public images and trying to take some shine off new tools and reach new customers. Nothing new about that really.

  5. Sure, depending on the size of the company, you might not get a reply. It helps to do some legwork first to see if they have active accounts. The type of company will also help you pick the right channel, social media, email, phone; I figured Expedia and Sprint, given their businesses, would be active.

    If I had a problem with a credit card company, I wouldn’t go to a social media expecting help.You’re right that finding the right channel is difficult. However, leaving a tweet dangling out there is easier than calling, navigating a phone tree, waiting on hold, and waiting to talk to a supervisor.

    FWIW I don’t think social media indicates that companies are maturing, depending on what you meant by that. I think they’re just protecting their public images and trying to take some shine off new tools and reach new customers. Nothing new about that really.

  6. PR is so malleable.  When the blackout hit San Diego, people were on twitter right away, trying to determine how far the outage spread.  All sdge did was give the most bland response.  Within the hour, there was more than a tweet a second, and they still were blandly content-free answering with the same canned tweet, retweeted over and over.

    After it was all over, local media was spouting stories about twitter was so great at saving people trapped in elevators and what-all.  No mention at all of the tsunami of tweet noise, no mention of the sporadic cell service. This prblog is such complete BS I’m seeing green spinny things.  Look at the twitter page they reference; people are just now getting emails sdge sent out last week!

    I guess that’s a success story, but not for me and 4 million other people.

  7. Yeah, they should just skip Twitter entirely. Utilities always take that approach to prevent panic or something. Wasted money pushing a canned “remain calm” message to Twitter. 

    I guess like a lot of things, your results may vary. It really depends on the company.

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