The Angry Mob Takes To Twitter And Leaves Loyal To Your Brand
I don’t call customer service anymore. I used to be a big proponent of calling customer service. I was a representative in a DIRECTV call center and am confident that you can find resolve by finding the right department to speak to and raising your concern there. I don’t call anymore though. I use Twitter.
I won’t share all the details of my customer service experience on Twitter but I will say that my success rate of resolution is 100 percent. Some of my friends and coworkers have identified it a passive-agressive temper tantrum or even social-media terroristic warfare where the company finally gives in. I’m here to justify my actions (although I used to believe my friends).
I’ll provide a hypothetical example of my typical twitter complaint. Any correlation to actual events in my life are of course purely coincidental. A customer makes a reservation for a hotel room for his family on a long weekend. They plan to drive six hours one-way and stay for three nights. The hotel has a 12p checkout and a 3p check-in. The family arrives at 5:10p, parks and walks in to check in. The plan was to check in, freshen up from the long drive and go out for dinner. Check-in goes smoothly, the rate is as booked and everything seems in order. When it comes time to receive the keys the staff member radios if room 120 or 304 is ready. Neither room is ready. The family is then asked to wait, ten to fifteen minutes, until the room is cleaned. It isn’t as if the family arrived at 3:10, it’s been hours since the official check-in. There was a reservation in place. They knew to expect the family, but a room wasn’t ready.
At that point the family tweets @HypotheticalSuites asking why customers have to wait when the reservation was really for two hours earlier. HypotheticalSuites immediately responds and asks to take the conversation to DM (a direct messages between two users that is not publicly visible). The family sends over confirmation numbers, additional details and embellishes the complaint (after all, if the conversation is private now they should REALLY know how you feel). HypotheticalSuites replies that they called the front desk, spoke to the individual and explained that it needed to be resolved. The family is provided keys to room 120, an upgraded two-bedroom suite (a one-bedroom suite was booked). The family takes their bags to their room and leaves for dinner. The result of the tweet was nothing. Well almost nothing.Did the hotel do anything differently?
No, they cleaned room 120 as fast as possible. The hotel had planned to check the family into room 120 before they arrived. It’s likely that the hotel had several same day one-bedroom bookings and only had two-bedroom units left. They upgraded the family based on when they booked, the fact that they had a reservation, a rate, or loyalty status. The upgrading of the suite wasn’t because of the delay, it was because that’s all they had.Did the family really get resolution?
Not really. They vented their concern to the free world and got some acknowledgement. However, they still waited 41 minutes in the lobby for a hotel room, which they would have done anyway.Is the customer happy?
Yes. They think their complaint made a difference. Unless they heard the room number that they were asked to clean they think they got an upgrade.Did it cost HypotheticalSuites anything?
Nope, not a dime. I suppose you could argue that the social media representatives salary is tied to this complaint but not this one specifically. Maximum we’re talking about 41 minutes of work on her part. Again, the suite upgrade wasn’t an upgrade, it was what was available.If there was no change or resulting effects, why should customers bother?
Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. Venting is cathartic. People feel better if they yell at a customer service representative and the result is something more than, “I’m sorry, I understand your concern, but that’s not something I can authorize.” But that’s the problem with the phone. In the end, people don’t feel good when they yell at people on the phone. From then on, when they hear HypotheticalSuite they think about yelling at someone. This is the beauty of Twitter.
140 characters or less can lead to a result. No one feels emotion when they thumb-drum their complaints into an iPhone. They aren’t yelling at anyone. At the end of the day you look back and think, “I had a problem. I didn’t go through an automated menu, wait on hold or talk to someone who isn’t even in the same country. In 140 characters I got my problem fixed. The company made a mistake, but it was so easy to get it fixed. I like HypotheticalSuites”If there was no change or resulting effects, why should companies bother?
For the most part people call customer service because there was a miscommunication or an employee wasn’t sensitive to the customers’ needs. In the example the entire Twitter situation would have been avoided had the desk agent said, “I apologize but it looks like we don’t have a room quite ready for you at this time. As a result I’ve upgraded you to a two-bedroom suite (not really, but the customer feels good about that). It may take anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on where housekeeping is in the process. If you’d like you can wait. If you would prefer not to wait you could go run any errands or grab a bite to eat and I’ll give you a call when the room is ready. Could I recommend a restaurant for you?”
The problem is not all front desk agents have the mindset to handle the situation in such a manner. Maybe she’s had a rough day, or something is going on in her life that’s troubling her. The point is the tweet got corporate to give her a call, most likely notify her supervisor, and up-train her on how to better handle the situation.
Taking the problem to Twitter keeps customers. Generally, it can be resolved simply. I won’t say that it is cheaper for the company than a call center; I know of some very costly Twitter resolutions that would have not had resolution over the phone. Even though some of the situations will be costly, it’s the right thing to do. The customer will recognize that, return with their business, and likely respond just as publicly as they complained. @HypotheticalSuites did what was right and fixed me up nice. I’ll be returning. #didtherightthing