How to use social media to save customers: a few examples

Are you saving customers with social media like The Hoff?

Does The Hoff save customers by using social media?

If you spend any time around social media, you’ll quickly realize that it is one of the easiest platforms to voice a complaint. Some companies ignore the negative sentiment that may pop up online, but others are finding masterful ways to spin a negative into a positive.

There are a few simple steps we can all take to try to handle issues and save customers online:

1. Accountability – step up and own the issue

As a customer and consumer, I don’t expect perfection. At the same time, there are certain situations where a problem can cripple a business. The absolute, worst thing that you can do is nothing. People have some level of forgiveness by nature, but ignoring, covering up, or lying about an issue only makes things worse. Check out this Google Search for “apple antenna lie” to see how not addressing the issue quickly can have a disastrous effect. Admit the fault, apologize for the inconvenience you caused (not “may have caused” because clearly there is an inconvenience) and follow through towards a resolution to try to make things right.

2. Escalate – get the right person talking

Not every issue requires the CEO having a press conference. However, sometimes the Assistant to the Assistant Manager may not be the person you want on the front-lines. Pull in a superior, explain the issue, and setup a conference call with folks that aren’t satisfied with the explanation offered.  In the examples that I’ll discuss later, in most cases… I was happy by the escalation alone and the end result was a bit irrelevant.

3. The Five Ps – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail with a friend, to what extent do you plan your trek? Do you just say “we’ll figure it out” or do you know where you’re sleeping every night? It never ceases to amaze me at the cases I hear of folks not prepared to handle a crisis. Pull in the appropriate parties, discuss previous examples – pros and cons, establish how to handle a worst case scenario, and have your infrastructure established.

I’ve had first-hand experiences with several companies that have knocked this out of the park and saved my business (I’ll also grade them for those of you that don’t read all the text).

GoDaddy – A

A crisis with your hosting company is never a fun experience. It is a great mixture of anger, frustration and disappointment – for you and maybe even for your readers. I ran into an issue with GoDaddy and they handled it smoothly. I even bought more domains by how they resolved the situation (thanks to The Office of the President). I’ve written about this before and you can check out the detailed blog post on how GoDaddy saved my business with social media.

Zagg – B+

My favorite pair of ear buds come from Zagg – they make incredible products. We had just launched Phonebooth Free at SXSW and rocked it. I boarded the flight to head home and my favorite buds shorted out.  I was one month out of warranty and reached out to their team on Twitter. After several emails and DMs, I ended up with a new pair of my favorite listening devices. Unfortunately, their customer support staff wasn’t really on the same page with the outstanding Twitter outreach. Altogether, great work and absolutely awesome products that I stand behind. The Twitter team followed up with me post-transaction to make sure I was still happy. :)

DirecTV – A+

I was a few hours away from completely cancelling my DirecTV service. I had a technician show up six hours late for a scheduled appointment, an incomplete upgrade installation that left me with no TV (oh noes!), mud tracked in the house, and the next available appointment was a month away. I was pretty furious and my switching cost was immediately down to zero. I had an unsatisfactory call with customer support and voiced my displeasure on Twitter. DirecTV’s team on Twitter reached out to me, escalated the issue, worked with the cancellation department I had called, and had The Office of the President call me.

I had told the cancellation department that if the issue wasn’t resolved the next day, that I would cancel (not being a jerk, but there were better alternatives than spending more time on the issue). On my way home from work, I received a call from The Office of the President telling me that someone should be at my house before I made it there.  When I arrived, an extremely helpful technician was already there working outside with his supervisor. They changed a ton of things that had been botched by the previous tech and convinced me that I had a single, isolated, bad experience.

I’m back in the extremely happy category with DirecTV and even a reference for other customers… if it wasn’t for their monitoring on Twitter and their outreach… I would be on U-Verse or just watching TV online. The fact that they followed through with other departments and had a qualified person reach out to me over the phone was awesome.

Beggars can’t be choosers

Too often, we only try to elevate the positive sentiment in social media… especially internally.  While this is definitely a good thing and helps with job security, neglecting negative sentiment and failing to try to understand it will doom you.  It can lead to product improvements, happier customers, and even save business… like in my case.


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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Chris!

    GoDaddy has its naysayers but I'm consistently impressed with their telephone customer service. I have a lot of domains and several hosting accounts with them, but I have to think they're losing money on my occasional long customer service calls. But there's never a sense that they're trying to get me off the phone ASAP.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the comment Karl.

    I definitely agree. Lots of folks hate GoDaddy, but they have always been really helpful to me as well. Their Twitter team did a heck of a job reaching out to get me an even more detailed explanation that the original rep offered.

    Reply
  3. I just spent 1 hour & 32 mins on the phone with DirecTv. I spoke to 4 departments (Customer Service, Retention, New Accounts, then ACE) trying to correct a “new account referral” which they never processed correctly. I've only been a customer for 3 days.

    I was finally credited for the referral, however they wouldn't do anything for my friend we outlined in the program.

    I couldn't me more unimpressed with them.

    How did you reach out to them on twitter? Did you begin with a direct message? Any tips on how to begin contact (for those of us who aren't twitter savvy?

    Very informative blog. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  4. David,

    DirecTV still follows me on Twitter and I just sent them a DM to see if they'd check out your comment and help out.

    Hopefully they'll chime in and reach out to you. :)

    Thanks for the comment and keep me posted. I'll try to help out if I can.

    Reply
  5. David – just talked with DirecTV on Twitter. Follow them and send them a DM, they'll help you out. Let me know your Twitter account so that I can tell them to be on the lookout for you.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. I'd also add Blog2Print – I made a request for an enhancement on the Facebook page to add the ability to incorporate your Twitter feed into the print blog books they make. Weeks later, I got a DM on Twitter from them saying they had just added that feature and remembered me asking about it. I was so impressed with the cross-media follow-up! I've referred their service many times before that, and even more since.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: The Top 10 Marketing Posts of 2010 | Marketing + Branding + Design by Chris Moody

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