We all are customers to many many businesses. A lot of us use social media. Some of us use social media to talk about brands we use. Some brands are smart enough to listen to us and interact with us on social media. I have been interacting with the few brands on social media and my experience says what Rahim said hundreds of years ago – Social media is just a tool, the winner or looser are decided based on how they use the tool and not on what the tool can do or is meant to do. Here are some of my bitter sweet experiences with brands on how they respond to customers on social media:
They gave a me a best response on social media. I needed some information about one of their properties in Goa but could not reach the right person through their board lines. I tweeted to them asking only if someone can help. They asked for my number, as it is a brand that I trust, I shared my number on DM ( Direct Message). I immediately got a call from the property in question, the person took all my requirements and sent me the information on e-mail within a reasonable and promised timeframe. I was happy and said Jai Ho Social Media. But then I got about 4-5 different calls from Taj Hotels to respond to the same query. This was a hyper response. As a customer, so many calls were disturbing even though a but pampering. I also felt that all these people who called had no clue about the other people who were calling. So response was excellent, but did they go overboard – may be a bit.
I had a very mixed experience with the. When we relocated to Goa, their engineer did not turn up the whole day to set up our system in Goa. We kept calling, but no one responded. Finally the guy decided to come at 10 PM and at 10:30 Pm after fixing the system he demanded 700 Rs. When I confronted him and asked we are supposed to be Tata Sky through the recharge, he took out the connector and said – if you want your Tata Sky to work, you have to pay me Rs 700/- or ask the company to come and do it for you. We were too tired to argue, but next morning I tweeted about it and within few hours the guy came and returned the money. So far so good. I also had the issue with Tata Sky billing me twice for relocation and to sort that out no amount of tweeting / calling helped. They just chose to ignore where they owed me money. After a while I could not spend my energy on a small amount, but the experience left a bad taste. First part did not leave a bad taste as the company responded and corrected its mistake, but the second one did.
Airtel is a perfect example of how you should not be on social media. To every tweet they have a automated response. They try to solve your problem without knowing your number. In all probably the social media management is outsourced with the team managing social media having no control on the service execution. I understand that with their kind of customer base it is not easy to be on social media, but then they should not take complaints on social media and that it is a medium that they use only to promote themselves. Customers should go to traditional channels to get their problems sorted. True, customers would still crib and rant about their customer service on social media, but then this automated response service is not helping either. Their Facebook page was a bit better in response but am I happy with the solution – not really.
A Travel Company
A small experience based travel company replies to every #travel tweet of mine by saying that if I am travelling in India , I should try their experiences. During my last trip, I asked them to arrange a few experiences for me and they could not. Now after this, I still keep getting their automated tweets and it get more annoying with every tweet. Automation is social media is going to work only to an extent, the moment it starts annoying, people will cut you off.
My take on Managing Customers on Social Media
- Do not use automation to reach out to customers and definitely not to respond to them.
- Listen to your customer. Even if you don’t like their language or the content of what they say – it takes an effort on the part of the customer to speak and they usually speak only when they are troubled or happy. There is no better place than social media to listen to your customers.
- Promise what you can deliver 100% or be ready for a deficit in customer trust.
- Avoid outsourcing of social media, specially if you intend to service customers on social media. There are far too many decisions that one may have to take to respond to a customer and an outside agency may not be able to take it on your behalf. The would also try to present a picture rosier than it is – which does not help in the long run.
- Have tight integration between your social media and customer support to get out of your presence on social media.
Do you have any good or bad experiences to share of your interactions with brands on social media.