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October 25, 2010

Has Social Media improved Customer Service?

So a lot of the local companies have gone to Facebook and Twitter to extend customer engagement and support. The idea is to add more channels on top of the existing service infrastructures like business centers and 24/7 telephone support.

It’s also a good way to connect with loyal customers, build community and drive marketing efforts (and a lot of other things, depending on the company’s goals).

The thing is, adding social media to the mix isn’t a guarantee that you get better customer service either. Granted that having a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account allows for two additional channels of support, these channels do not necessarily mean you get better service.

A friend once told me “what good is a Twitter account if they don’t reply to your questions” or “a Facebook wall that is heavily moderated just to allow positive feedback while negative feedback are deleted?”.

I agree.

I think it all has to start offline — if a company has great 24/7 telephone support, the one that does not let you wait 30 minutes before the next customer service representative can get to you, sending a DM on Twitter would be the last thing a customer would ever do when they needed help.

If by visiting a service center and be able to have your problems fixed in 15 minutes, one would not need to post and excruciatingly explain a problem on a Facebook wall.

If we looked at it that way, then maybe we can also make the conclusion that the company that has the most active Facebook wall or the most number of followers on Twitter are the ones who fail miserably at providing the most basic support services. Why else would people resort to waiting for hours to get a reply on Twitter/FB when a 5 minute phone call would have solved a problem?

My personal experience has been a mix of both — if all I needed was information and it’s non-urgent, Twitter works best; but if I needed to get my internet fixed, I’d always make the call however long it will take for me to wait for an operator. And from experience, the phone calls still get things done faster than FB or Twitter. Besides, it’s very hard to limit your rant to only 140-characters.

How about you? Are the Twitter and Facebook accounts of your subscribed services been better than the usual channels?

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20 Responses to “Has Social Media improved Customer Service?”

  1. Andre Marcelo-Tanner
    Twitter: kzapkzap
    says:

    Some companies just dont understand the point of it all…

  2. Cliff Rosario
    Twitter: connect2cliff
    says:

    Talk2Globe in twitter has been pretty slow to reply at times or can be instantaneous other times. But regardless,the mode of communication nowadays are a plenty compared to waiting in queue over the phone or at their Globe Center.

  3. Manny
    Twitter: villaemmanuel
    says:

    Will use fb/twitter to post positive feedback, but will definitely call for complaints and those needing immediate action, making sure the call is recorded

  4. Secret says:

    I tweeted to Talk2Globe once to complain about Globe Tattoo compressing images on websites to very low quality. It replied asking me for my number and location as if it has something to do with the compression of images that their proxy servers are doing. So aside from very slow in responding, they don’t know much about their system to give customer support. On the other hand they can’t do anything with the ugly compression that their proxy servers are doing to web site images, so didn’t really expect to get a decent answer. Sure you can press CTRL+F5 to have the browser render the full version of the images, but with Smart/Smart Bro/Weroam you don’t have to do that.

  5. Jhay says:

    The Twitter and FB accounts of Globe were of use to me for just the first few months they were opened. After that, it was all utterly useless.

    I still prefer to calling the customer service hotline and berating, err…talking to an agent to get my problems fixed.

    Me thinks it’s just another PR stunt. Nakiki-uso lang ang mga ‘yan.

  6. Ethan says:

    I don’t know about any improvements, but social media has definitely empowered consumers to pressure companies to provide good customer service. Check the link for more http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/consumers-pay-more-for-great-experience-14657/

    The problem here in the PI is that most companies (most notably the large corporations) don’t really give a flying f**k about customer service, so having a Facebook or Twitter account only serves as their way of being “hip” and “cool.”

    On the flipside though, social media has been properly used by a handful of entities. Our power company here in Cebu, VECO, has been routinely posting schedules of power interruptions. Pretty convenient if you ask me.

  7. Wesley says:

    I agree, it’s all well and good if they have a strong social media prescence, but what matters most is if they actually give their customers a genuine brand satisfaction.

  8. kyflo
    Twitter: kyflo
    says:

    It is not always the same.
    Some are useless just like I tried to complain to CD-R King FB fanpage regarding their service and I am also asking them why do they continue importing DVB-T USB tuners even though they will not function in the Philippines, but they do not answer.

    Concern regarding DVB-T tuners :
    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=422990090248&topic=16917

    Concern regarding BAD SERVICE :
    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=422990090248&topic=14471

    The rest of the discussion board :
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/CD-R-King-Your-One-stop-Media-Provider/422990090248?v=app_2373072738

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  19. Wayne says:

    I am a Community Manager for a major global company, and I can well appreciate the comments made here – currently, many companies view social media in a similar way that companies often viewd corporate web sites back in the late 90s and the first few years of the 00s: they have the presence but they are eitehr not adequately monitoring it or they are using it as a marketing tool and ignoring support requests.

    It’s no good just being there, you have to be active, and responsive. Many European and US companies, Vodafone UK, Elisa Finland Oy and Barclays Bank being just three examples, offer better services through social media than through the traditional contact channels because they keep these services “in-house” and run them using real experts rather than outsourcing to the generic contact centre companies that run their voice and e-mail channels.

    Social media is a tough act to get right, and at the moment it is like the “Millenium Bug”, it’s hard to find the real knowledgable experts amongst large crowds of “consultants” who have jumped on the bandwagon seeing the potential to make money out of nervous companies, whilst they know relatively little offer poor advice for the fees that they charge.

    If your company is taking the social media route, take your time to make sure that you set it up right and be careful from whom you accept advice. The best companies to contact for information are those who have been around in social media and online support for a long time, avoid recent start-ups unless they have some damn good credentials.

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