When you have a product or service that is not working, who do you call? Of course, you call Customer Service. If you still get no help, you find a better way to be heard.
Social media has given people (individuals, businesses and brands) wonderful opportunities to communicate easily and quickly with each other. It has turned customer service from merely being an entity of support to being an enhanced extension of the marketing campaign of businesses today. One essential thing that social media and customer service have always had in common is the idea that their success is all about relationships. Companies can build relationships with their customers through their customer service departments using social media to gather invaluable feedback from the people who use their products and services. They can then take that feedback to improve and enhance their offerings quickly and efficiently. In the end, everyone is happy.
Customer Service is no longer enough
Traditional Customer Service departments that function only with people (with no technology behind them) are no longer enough to keep the customers happy all of the time. Engaging customers has risen to such a high level that the human part of the formula, although essential, must be accompanied by a powerful tool that can offer the help that customers need when the people in Customer Service departments fail to give satisfaction.
Many of the larger companies today, such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and Dell, are paying close attention to what is being communicated about them through social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. You, as a customer, should take advantage of this to try to resolve your issues with customer service in a quicker and more efficient way.
I had the following experience recently:
I have been a customer of Web.com since the nineties. My dynamic website and blog rely on a database that they are hosting and maintaining. Every few months, my database became unavailable for a few hours and sometimes, even for an entire day. In the last month, this became a daily occurrence, to the point that my website and blog were completely unavailable. Considering that we post blog articles three times a week and get approximately 6,000 unique visitors a month, having a database that is unavailable is a serious interruption of service that also caused us to lose potential clients.
For the last month, I was contacting Web.com technical support a few times a week for this issue (and opened several tickets). Each time, I got a different person from overseas (mostly from India). They told me that they were aware of the issue and that it would be resolved within 24 hours. Usually, the next day I would receive an Email telling me that the ticket has been resolved and closed. In reality, nothing has been fixed and the unavailability of my database and blog were becoming more and more frequent.
The first few times, the foreign technical support person told me, “I am sorry.” In subsequent calls, they told me, “I am very sorry.” Later on, they told me, “I am really, really sorry.” Being sorry doesn’t resolve business issues. After a month of going through their “really, really sorry” excuses, I insisted on speaking with a supervisor and was told that I would be transferred to the supervisor when, in reality, they hung up on me. I called again and this time I insisted on being transferred to a technical support person in the United States.
They hung up on me again! I called again and again, each time asking to speak with a person in the United States. I was finally connected to technical support in Florida. This time, I explained the situation to the technical support person and threatened that I would publically post my experience on every possible channel on the Internet. The technical support person had another person join our call and promised that they would switch me to another database server and that the move would resolve my issue. The next day, I received an Email that stated that the ticket had been resolved and closed while in reality, my website was completely down and there were no signs that they had actually moved the database.
Now was the time to make good on my promise to broadcast my experience over the Internet. First, I went to the Web.com Facebook page and I posted a message “Web.com Customer Service is terrible.” I followed that message with an excerpt from their Email that stated that they had escalated my case and that it would be resolved shortly. I then posted a statement that they didn’t resolve anything. Within a few minutes of my posting on the Web.com Facebook page, they replied to me, asking for my domain and saying that they would escalate the case. Hours went by and still nothing happened.
Next, I went on LinkedIn and searched for executives working at Web.com. I sent a LinkedIn InMail to Web.com’s VP of Technology, asking for his help. He responded to me, telling me that he would forward my case to the appropriate team. Within less than an hour, I received a call from Web.com’s Executive Response Team Escalation (White Glove support). They told me that they would start to work on my case right away. The next day, they called me and told me that this time they would move me to another database server for real. The person worked with me through a few subsequent phone calls to verify that my data were properly backed up and reconfigured for the new server. After several more hours, I was finally on a stable database.
The Customer Service issues that you face as a business owner are no different now than they ever were; however, the big difference is that now you have powerful technological tools that can help you, as the customer, to get what you need in a timely and efficient manner, whereas, you had no recourse but to wait patiently before the advent of social media. Businesses need to listen to what their customers want and how they want to express what they want. Customers must always be made to feel as though they are the ones who matter the most.
- When you sense that the Customer Support person on the other end is offshore, you should insist on being transferred to a US-based Customer Support person.
- If you don’t receive a response, use social media channels to broadcast your support issue and thus, accelerate the resolution.
- Again, if you don’t receive a response, use social networking, such as LinkedIn, to reach the executives in the company with which you have the issue.
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About the Author.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).