Posted on : 20-07-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Customer Service
Tags: Customer Service, Jeff Jarvis
Most of my readers know of Jeff Jarvis but for those that do not, he is author (latest is “What Would Google Do“), journalist, and a Customer evangelist (at least based on his Dell Hell example). You can learn more about Jeff on Wikipedia. I tend to agree with Jeff Jarvis on many things, and this will be another point that he and I will agree. Yesterday on Twitter Jeff shared an experience he was having with his local cable provider (not Comcast!). He followed it up with a post on his Buzz Machine blog. During his experience with the cable company call center, a representative responded â€œI dont see you listed as a VIP. Now I am not going to say something like companies do not have VIP Customer lists, because most I have ever worked for did. When I worked for Vanguard investments I was a supervisor in their Voyager service, which was for household with $250,000 to $1 million invested (those levels may have changed today). Since starting my work helping people in social media, someone inevitably steps in and says “you only helped them because they are an influencer.” Even within Jeff’s comments Cody Brown stated the following:
“If I did this on my twitter, I dont think I would have gotten any response from Verizon or Comcast.
A big problem with going after corporate customer service with Twitter is that if you dont have the follower count, it often goes no where.
Its nepotism when you get better service because you are friends with the VP but what is it when you get better service for having 20K twitter followers?”
Well Cody, my belief is you are just as much an influencer as Jeff Jarvis, and so is every Customer a company interacts with. I responded to Jeff, not because he is a VIP Customer, in fact he is not a Customer of Comcast at all. I responded because he directed a comment specifically to me, and it is only polite to respond.
Social media is making the world a smaller place and it is also providing a lot more control to Customers. People are sharing their experiences to their new world within places like Facebook and Twitter. Customers have always communicated bad experiences to others, but the scale is shifting. The rule of thumb used to be a Customer with a bad experience will tell 10 others, but as Pete Blackshaw points out in the title of his book “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000,” the scale is getting much larger for everyone. This is a new world order and the Customer is gaining the upper hand.
Now think of it from your own perspective, what happens when you have a bad experience? You tell as many as you can. How many of us are influenced about a product by reading a review on Amazon.com? I know I have been. Today there are many influential websites serving Customers, such as the Consumerist, Planet Feedback, Get Satisfaction and many more. Any person can influence things like search results or the perception of the brand. You can even look at your Facebook page as having dramatic influence. Updating your status goes out to all your friends, then others start to comment on it opening it up the influence to their friends and so on.
This is why, in this new world, companies are going to have to improve the Customer experience through all communication channels. If they do not, they may not have Jeff Jarvis going on a rampage, but it could be someone as simple as “John Smith.” The person who brings it to light on the internet may not even be the Customer at all. Instead “John Smith” may share his story and a friend decides to tell so many others.
I have reviewed numerous software for managing social media and discussions on the web. A feature I always see is “influencer” ratings or rankings. I believe any company that focuses on the highest rankings is really going the wrong direction. They are usually working from a PR or marketing perspective and not really striving to listen or help their Customers. I am not going to say I have not helped people that would be ranked as “influencers,” because I have. I strive to help all Customers in the same manner. If you have not seen the ABC story, check out the video on this link. One of my favorite stories was when I help Michael Arrington, many said it was because of who he was, but within the comments there were comments like these:
Siobhan said “Actually, they monitor a lot of blogging tools and sites. I have a friend who uses LiveJournal who got an email within about 24 hours of complaining about her Comcast service from a legitimate customer service rep, and they sent a tech out to help within a day. So theyre doing it whether youre Michael Arrington or the average Joe on the street.”
Even Michael added a comment “based on twitter messages Im receiving, they are monitoring services in general, not specific influencers. http://twitter.com/angelcitybl…../784144918“
Since the Michael Arrington story, I am sure many others will recognize that my team and I strive to assist everyone to the best of our ability. Some will say that service is not the same through other communications channels with my company, but I will let everyone know that we are working hard to change that. In fact the cool part about our efforts is we can learn so much that can then be utilized in other communications channels. It took us time to get to the level we are at, and it will take time to show these improvements. I look forward to getting to that point.
I think all of this is why Forrester’s Dr. Natalie Petouhoff wrote a post that I will be discussing later this week about Customer Service leading the way for companies in social media. Check it out.
I will end this note with a tweet I sent to Jeff Jarvis last night: