Another photo from the Chihuly Garden & Glass Gallery in Seattle, Washington. One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was these bowls, only lit by bright white light, showed off Dale Chihuly’s imagination and talent with coloured glass.
Many times these last couple of days, I’ve seen people scream out into the Twittersphere, begging for customer service, expecting to get their problems solved, when help is just a phone call away.
Twitter isn’t always going to help you.
Sure, the best companies may recognize that twitter is a quick-response option to small customer service requests, though I usually only seen these type of responses: “Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or Email customer service for quicker response.” Which is great, you’ve gotten a response, but you still have work to do. What would have happened if you would have done one of those things in the first place? Quicker Service.
What You See Is All There Is.
The other day, a friend sent me this string of twitter responses from a Portland Bar/Restaurant. The customer was unhappy they were not moved to a different table in the establishment and took to twitter to explain their beleaguered plight. What they didn’t do is look back through the establishment’s tweet-stream. I did, I went back 4 pages of tweets, which is Twitter time could be four minutes or four months. What I noticed was the establishment’s stream was a real live person, responding to complaints; some reasonable and some not and the responses were, at most, in the tone of “stop bothering me.” Which, we would all say is horrible customer service, but, it’s consistent. And, when you’re consistent, it is what it is. Looking back over the numerous pages of tweets, they never once tried to quiet the customer, they never tried to solve the issue, they just explained their reasons and moved on.
Just Because You Want Help On Twitter Doesn’t Mean You’re Going To Get It.
In customer service land we want to meet the customer wherever they reside. In my experience; however, 140 characters is rarely enough to solve the problem. Which means you need three or four messages to convey one quick answer. That’s not efficient, nor timely. Twitter isn’t staffed 24-7 and if you expect it to be, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Twitter isn’t always the best way to get results, sometimes, it’s only a way to feel more frustrated.
So many articles tell companies they must be on twitter to provide service. Yet, the better way to provide customer service would be to empower the front-line staff with the abilities and tools necessary to make decisions which affect the customer.
The back-and-forth banter on Twitter means that someone may still miss your company’s response and think you’re not providing service. And sometimes, there’s no action which will please the customer, so you’ll end up in a reoccurring quagmire of apologies until the person tires out.
In my experience, there are far more effective means of getting great customer service: Pick up the phone. Email the Customer Service Help Team. Contact someone in Management. Write a letter. Write a blog. Then, after you’ve exhausted all other options, then find their Twitter or Facebook streams, see if they respond there, if so, reach out, direct them to your previous efforts and then expect service. Otherwise, you might just be spinning your mouse wheel.
Wow. We’ve all had experiences with a utility that makes us cringe. None have made me cringe more than the cable company. It’s a service many of us can’t really live without, yet, there’s no competition in that space. So, we’re forced to endure the worst of the worst when it comes to Customer Service. I’m certain my experience isn’t unique, just multiplied.
I moved across town recently, during this move I switched my internet service from Comcast to Centurylink (whom I’ve blogged about before because of their fantastic customer service at every turn,) and downgraded to the most basic of cable service. I knew this would mean that I would lose my @comcast email addresses, which also served as my log in to pay my bill. Easy enough. At the direction of the service agent who helped me transition my service, I changed my log in information to reflect my new email address and log in so I could have access once my email addresses terminated. Easy. …Or so I thought.
First Fail: Fast-Forward: Chatting For Service
I went to log in last week and found that I couldn’t sign it. It said: “No account found.” So I used the “lost password” link, as you’re supposed to, and found my email was not in the system. Hmmm.
So I used the “Chat with a customer service specialist” option. After verifying my existence, the customer service representative had me try to sign in, (I’ve done that.) Try the lost password link (I’ve done that.) and then try the register a new log in link (I hadn’t tried that.) When I attempted to register a new account I received an “Account already registered to ID: ” error. Once I relayed that error to the customer service representative, the agent typed: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do with that error, you’re going to have to call customer service: 1-800-XFINITY” and then the chat window terminated. (Wait, wasn’t I just talking to Customer Service?)
Second Fail: Calling Customer Service: Picking The Phone
So, after fuming about being terminated from “Customer Service” Chat. I stepped back into my issue and called Customer Service. After navigating their phone tree… I finally got to a live body, who said their name so fast I couldn’t write it down (I usually take note of a customer service representative’s name so I can thank them later,) and I then launched into my issue. After confirming my identity and my account (name is Nicholas Church,) he continued to address me as “ma’am.” Nothing gets under my collar quicker as being called ma’am on the phone. After the 3rd time, I corrected him, his reply:
…”I’m Sorry Ma’am.”
“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!” I was fuming. I relayed my issue again, that I couldn’t pay my bill, and after another 3 “ma’am”s, I paid my bill, after confirming I wouldn’t be charged the fee for paying on the phone (I sincerely hate paying fees for paying bills, I think it’s the stupidest business decision) and hung up the phone while still fuming and took to Twitter, what seemed to be the last bastion of respectable customer service.
Third Fail: Twitter – 140 Characters of Service
Now, in the last couple of years, Comcast has been known for their Twitter customer service (@Comcastcares) – If you had an issue, you could reach out to them and see second-tier resolution. Not exactly first-call, but your problem would be solved. So I reached out. Explained the issue, my steps to resolution, omitting my frustration with being called “ma’am” since it wasn’t relevant to the discussion. I went through all the testing steps they suggested, (Same ones as above) and then was told that an internet specialist would follow up with me later. I waited 4 days, spanning a weekend, with no response. On the fifth day, I followed up with the Twitter Service Rep who was handling my issue. He had no recollection of my previous issue, I had to remind him of the situation, and I was told, again, there would be an internet service representative calling. The next day, now a week later, I received a call from the internet support rep, re-explained my issue and after three separate calls, finally was able to log into my Comcast account.
Where I noticed I have a pending charge for paying on the phone. That will be another call, for another day.
If you’re looking for a great way to fail at customer service, the above experience is a textbook example of how to do it in three separate modes of communication.
Failing at customer service, Xfinity’s triple play.
Heh. I’ve been on twitter three years as of today. Lucky me? In that time, I’ve “tweeted” 81,566 times, an average of 27,188 per year, 75 per day, or 3 per hour… If you follow me, you’ll know that it seems far greater than that. In those three years, beginning from #Seriously to today, I’ve met some great people, had access to some of the greatest conversations and made some lasting friendships. Feel Free to Follow me: @Schnik
Be interesting, be enthusiastic … and don’t talk too much. – Norman Vincent Peale
Lets be honest. I don’t put a whole lot of thought into my blog. I don’t have an editorial strategy of what I’m going to post. I do, however, put a lot of “me” into this space. The sub-theme, “Heaping Scoops Of My Brain,” isn’t just clever witticism, This space is really all about what I’m thinking at the moment.
I don’t have a tag cloud enabled on my blog for a reason. I don’t think it adds anything to your experience here. However, I was going through some of the features on the back-end of wp.com and I found it has a tag cloud of your commonly used tags and such. These are mine. As I approach the end of the year, and my 200th(!!) blog post, I was going to do some reflection to what I’ve learned in my time here. Prepare yourself. 🙂
I have never thought of myself as a motivator or as inspirational. I have always just thought myself as a storyteller, someone you can relate to and someone you’d like to call a friend.
Again, thanks for sticking around with me. I hope it gets better from here. (If you want to see the posts which are related to the above tags. Click on them, it should take you there.) Going through them, I learned a lot about my writing style and how it’s changed since I began this thing.
There, I’ve said it. I love the instant-communicative nature of webchat. I love that I can pose a question to a news anchor, while they’re on air, and they’ll respond to me during the commercial, or sometimes, when they’re not on camera. That’s instant power. There’s something about that connection that just brings so much value, it says, “you’re important.”
So many brands, companies, and celebrities are on Twitter nowadays, I connect with very few of them. Often, this is how my interaction works with brands:
@Brandx: “We’re hard at work creating new and exciting things for you”
@Schnik: @Brandx Ooh! That sounds exciting, I can’t wait to try them out.
@Brandx: Wait until you’ve seen what we’re doing!
@Schnik: @Brandx How about a sneak preview?
You’ve lost me. I’m no longer following you, I may still use your product, but I’m not going to promote it. As a business, that’s a missed opportunity for you.
All it takes, one little thing, is for you to engage me. Just say “Hi.” In the above scenario, it could have been “Hey Schnik, we’re so hard at work, that we haven’t been able to take any pictures. Thanks for the interest.”
I would have been pacified and still intrigued. What I’m really saying is this, we all know that Twitter is a tool for communicating, but if you’re not responding to your customers, especially when they’re reaching out to you, you’re telling them they are not important to you. And at best, they won’t speak about your company, but at worst, they’ll go to your competitor, who does respond.
The real title of this post is: “Relationships in the age of social media.”
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. I’ve seen some relationships flourish and flounder from my front row seat on Facebook and Twitter. To get the full perspective we should back up a bit. In the 50’s, you went “steady” or you wore their “pin.” In the 60’s you avoided labels, you were just “groovy.” In the 70’s, you we’re their “Cool Cat.” In the 80’s relationships were “Totally bitchin'” and in the 90’s, there were all sorts of labels to define what your relationship was, and a couple of really awesome breakup songs.
Then came Myspace, Facebook and Twitter.
Having recently entered a relationship, I was excited to update my Facebook status. To what, though? The two of us had to have a discussion to what this really meant. Not only were we in a relationship, but how public did we want this to really be? Declaring a relationship has now been given this extra punctuation mark of Facebook. What that means to each relationship is different for everyone. Is it a Period? Is it a question mark, “it’s complicated?” Or is it an exclamation(!!) point?
After you negotiate what and if you’re going to change your status to something, then you have to ask the question if you want to attach the name to it. It’s not if you’re comfortable or not, it’s if you can handle the attention. I tend to live my life in the wide open. I share a lot with you people, all 50 regular readers, but I have 900+ friends on Facebook. Half of those Facebook friends, I’m sure, never see me on their walls, they would never know that I’m in a relationship, or that I’m pretty happy, or that I post a quote of the day, every day. What happens when the person you’re dating isn’t as public, isn’t as comfortable with the media-glare? Relationships are hard enough without the added eyes.
Interesting enough, that’s not the end of it. I’ve never been a fan of public displays of affection, (PDAs,) although, I think there’s some appropriateness of sharing your relationship on these networks. A great example, I ran across the other day: In the above example you’ll note that there’s a hint of playful, some serious whimsy, and even if you didn’t know them, and I do, you’d think, “that’s sweet, and kind.” It’s not forced.
Too many times, I have seen relationships where the people involved are repeatedly publicly posting how happy their significant other has made them, how truly wonderful they are, how special they feel, how blessed they feel.
The single me would roll my eyes, choke down the bile accumulating in my throat, and move on. The me who is currently in a new relationship, wonders: “Are you telling me, or trying to convince me?”
You know how great a relationship is from the outside on how very little you see being thrust in your face. A good relationship makes you think, as an outsider, “Aw, that’s cute,” not, “Oh god, really?”
Others will celebrate your relationship because they see from your conversation how much you respect and adore each other, not because you have to tell them everyday how amazing they are. PDA’s on social media are even more obtrusive. It’s worse than your neighbors at your local bistro swapping their gum without using their hands.
Just something to think about when you’re talking to your significant other in public forums. Is it something that if you saw from the other side of the table, would your response be: “UGH!” or “AWW!”
In case you’re wondering, I love you all and I think you’re fantastic and I want to celebrate your relationships, but I just don’t want to gag on them.