Posts Tagged: comcast

Are You Putting In As Much As You’re Taking Out?

The internet’s megaphone is becoming the number one way to indicate brand DISsatisfaction online.

It’s fast, easy, efficient and above all – effective.

This is doubly true if the brand is monitoring their keywords across platforms.

Twitter, especially, has become the darling platform of the disgruntled customer.

Tweets like this are not uncommon:

RT @tpurves: Swearing at brands on twitter really is the new and awesome ‘nuclear option’ for receiving full-on customer support.Fri Jul 23 16:42:17 via Tweetie for Mac

I agree that online soapboxes are effective, but don’t see a lot of give and take in this equation – mostly just take. As evidenced by big brands like Comcast, the problems don’t always get solved, even when you scream into a megaphone about how unhappy you are with the issue, brand or service. This is most often a disconnect between the infrastructure offline and the brand online. Customer service reps can bust their hump for you all day long, but if the brand can’t sustain quality in what you’ve purchased, you are still going to be unhappy. This creates an exponential problem for their brand perception, yes, but it also creates a morale issue for their employees.

I recommend keeping in mind how hard their community managers are working to respond to you online, and how hard the technicians and reps who follow up offline are working to resolve your issue. Even if your problem isn’t fixed, if the company has specific reps that are trying hard on your behalf – say a specific thank you to them by name on the same megaphone where you first complained.

Take Fairpoint. I was having huge issues with their FIOS service being slow, their web site being atrocious to navigate (and liking IE6-7 best – who designs for that anymore??) and their hold times being excessive as it when I sent this tweet:

Going to have to carve out time to call @myfairpoint again this week. At $90/mo for FIOS this all crash/all lag thing is making me Not HappyMon Jul 12 13:06:33 via Seesmic

But I made sure to send an immediate thank you to their in-person tech, and one to their online reps, because they are working hard to solve my problem – it’s not their fault Fairpoint is ill equipped to handle FIOS in this region, or that Verizon left them holding the bag on some terrible infrastructure.

Woot! RT @leslie: Woot! Super nice Glen from @myfairpoint has me all fixed. Problem was PS3/router set up. Happy to be back at full speed.Fri Jul 16 15:13:37 via HootSuite

Solving that simple problem made my life easier, plain and simple. Is the overall issue completely fixed? Not really, but they are continuing to work on it for me, and I appreciate that. Other companies I’ve had good results from, and loudly thanked for it, online include Verizon Wireless, HTC, Comcast and PSNH.

What other ways can you give back as much as you take, and help someone do their job better and happier in the process?

Why Twitter Isn’t Your Holy Grail

I adore Twitter. I spend a great of time on Twitter. I have made lasting, valuable connections on Twitter. I’m one of the biggest Twitter cheerleaders you will hear (heck, I just wrote a book about Twitter with Laura Fitton and Michael Gruen called Twitter for Dummies). So why, then, do I not automatically include it in every client strategy, or promote it as “the answer” to all business issues? Because it isn’t.

Twitter is a valuable piece in your social media puzzle, but it is only a segment of your larger plan. (You do have a larger plan, don’t you? If not, go back to the drawing board until you do.) What’s more, it is a segment that can fail on occasion, in spite of your best efforts to use it wisely and well. In fact, there are some companies out there who are using Twitter well, and in innovative ways, but still failing at their overall business model.

Today’s case in point is Comcast. The formerly beleaguered telecommunications company found that Twitter was an effective customer service channel when they started an account called @ComcastCares. People flocked to it for “real time” customer service support and the more personal feeling you get from quick response to your issues, because you knew it was manned by a real person (Frank) – it gave Comcast a human face. I adore the folks that man the various Comcast accounts (ComcastBill, ComcastGeorge, ComcastBonnie, and so on). They listen, they monitor, they respond.

In spite of all the inroads the Comcast reps have made by using Twitter as a channel to improve Comcast’s image and provide better support, in the end they are fighting against their own company’s continuing inability to provide good service offline. Customers use the phrase “it’s Comcastic” sarcastically when something isn’t working for a reason (“What happened?” “Oh, my car stopped working for no reason – it’s Comcastic!”). Comcast has an infrastructure that, in many parts of the country, is woefully inadequate and fails repeatedly. This is not the representatives’ fault, but it affects their jobs online. Too often, I’m sure, they get customers like myself who are forced to use Comcast for lack of any other option, which would be fine if it worked, but who are then faced with problem after problem, outage after outage, service call after service call.

If you are going to open your customer service channel (or any other business channel or feedback channel) to the public, your company needs to back the people manning the account(s) up. Comcast proves that if you can’t put your money where your mouth is, your work toward brand perception improvement or better customer care can still be damaged, even when people interacting with your company on that platform appreciate what you’re trying to do. There comes a time when being responded to and told it will be fixed for the umpteenth time just isn’t enough. Customers love the human contact, sure, but at the end of the day they want results, and not to have to come to your brand representative with the same problem over and over.

The moral of this anecdotal analogy is simple. Any social media campaign needs not only more than one facet online, but a strong backbone at the company level offline. Make sure your company is ready to stand tall under the strain of more attention, and ready to truly fix the underlying main issues or problems, not just what’s on the surface. If you aren’t ready to make real changes if needed, then you may want to rethink your engagement strategy until you are.