For this week’s Guest Blog, we are delighted to introduce Carolyn Blunt. Carolyn is the Managing Director of Real Results Training and co-author of ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’, How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation’ is published by Wiley and available now on Amazon.
For those of you who do not know me, I am passionate about Customer Service and especially the delivery of effective social customer service. My organisation, Real Results Training, works with many organisations to help them deliver outstanding customer service and in the past few years the rise of social customer service has created exciting (and scary!) opportunities to take customer service into the 21st Century. There is so much for an organisation to consider when planning and managing the customer experience and getting it right is critical for your corporate reputation.
In the following blog I wanted to raise a few debate points and highlight some examples of social service and where individual’s (Hasan Syed & Dave Carroll’s) actions impacted on a corporate brand and reputation (BA & United Airlines).
I have to say hats off to Hasan Syed; For having the impetus to be quick to use social media to further his lost luggage cause, but the real interesting twist was having the resources to further promote the message. For $1000 Hasan Syed promoted a tweet slamming BA’s customer service after they lost his father’s luggage and their slow response (over 7 hours) did not satisfy Syed. His tweet was seen by more than 77,000 people.
Unfortunately BA’s twitter account is not manned around the clock and a further delay ensued. This opens up the first debate point:
- Customer expectation is ever increasing as to the speed of response they demand when interacting with brands via social. Keep them waiting longer than 20 minutes for at least an acknowledgement and their frustration will rise. Whilst it still feels acceptable for retailers and smaller brands to tweet out the close of their support in the evenings (and in a lot of cases later than the 5pm cut off of BA) and the re-opening of their manned desks in the mornings, there is perhaps an argument for a big name like BA– who operate 24/7- to consider having a social customer service presence to match.
There are earlier instances of using Twitter to gain speedier responses; both United Airlines and Virgin have fallen victim when complaints, in the form of tweets, or video went viral before it could be resolved. In my forthcoming book ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Carroll who wiped $180m off the share price of United Airlines, with his ‘United Breaks Guitars’ music video trilogy on You Tube. He was only trying to recover $1200 dollars to cover the repair of his guitar after it was damaged by baggage handlers.
Brands often fail to identify an influencer effectively, which raises the second point of debate:
- Should brands be monitoring their influencers, VIPS and those with high klout, kred and other scores? I think so. If Stephen Fry tweets his dissatisfaction with your customer service most brands would pay attention (providing their service desk is manned at the time!) but the more ‘anonymous influencers’ are harder to spot. Their reach (popularity), resonance (frequency) and relevance (authority) all matter.
Training your social customer service agents to check out the customers follower numbers, how recently they tweeted, their interactions with their followers and the content they share is a savvy minute spent. However in the case of Hasan Syed this still might not have told them much. Syed may have only tweeted a few hundred times previously, but he had the unseen cash and motivation. Nothing can really measure and flag this accurately to social agents, and so it levels the playing field on social even further and challenges dangerous assumptions about ‘anonymous’ customers.Brands will never know who has cash at their disposal to escalate a tweet, certainly it is not always possible for everyone to do – but if you are angry enough and you have suffered a significant loss you may well now start to consider it.
Personally, I love this story, it’s yet another example of social media putting the control back into the customers’ hands. Like Dave Carroll and others, Syed has demanded a level of customer service that we all should be able to expect when paying for services. The days of thinking you own your own brand and set your own service levels are over. Your customers now do. It is time to sharpen your game to ensure you can deliver effective social customer service.
What do you think? Do you agree with Carolyn, or have any thoughts on the two points Carolyn has raised? We would welcome your thoughts and comments on Social Customer Service and Brand Reputation, please do post them here.