The New @CustomerService Line

Uncategorized Posted Dec 3, 2012 by chenpr

Imagine a line of people waiting at the customer service desk at, say, Target. You’d imagine that most of them have some sort of complaint or return, as people rarely wait in line at customer service to tell someone how happy they are with the laundry detergent they bought.

This long line of complaining customers may be a headache to the employees behind the desk, but it’s their job to tick through each complaint one-by-one until the line is gone or the day is over. It’s all very routine. But you know what would shake up this routine? You know what would give everyone in the store a headache, all the way up to the store manager?

If every single customer waiting in that line had a megaphone.

A consumer with a Twitter account (or a blog) is essentially a customer with a giant megaphone that has exceptional, global range. And businesses have caught on.

It is no longer just the most social media-savvy businesses that have shifted their customer service strategy over to these platforms. At this point it is almost an expectation of customers that tweeting a complaint warrants a fast response—as if they were waiting in line at the customer service desk.

Some companies that were pioneers of social media-based customer service continue to find ways to reach out to their customers online. For example, I write a blog full of silly, meaningless content that is mostly to entertain friends and family. I have made no effort to enhance my SEO, my name is not attached to the blog, and its following is by no means large or far-reaching. In a post I wrote a few weeks ago, I complained about the set-up of Comcast Wi-Fi. The complaint was made for no other purpose than to complain—I expected nothing, asked for nothing, and suggested no alternative solutions. Yet, 1 day after posting, I received this comment:

ComcastCares1 November 1, 2012 4:41 PM

I apologize for the frustrations we caused. I work for Comcast and I’d like to help. You may contact me if you’re interested in my help.

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations

I did an internet search of Mark Casem, as well as “Comcast Cares,” convinced that this was some sort of prank, or at the very least an automated service. However, what I found is that Mark Casem is real, and Comcast Cares is actually quite active—and has been since 2008. (See this GeekWire article that praises their initiative.)

While different companies may take varied approaches as to how they respond—from a simple apology, to an offer to help resolve the issue, to free product (free cheese to go with the whine, so to speak)—what is becoming clear is that there is increasing expectation for a response.

Has your company taken to Twitter and other social media outlets to address customer complaints or concerns? What have you found to be successful strategies when addressing customers via these outlets?