The Tweet Service Experience
This blog is about travel, rewards programs and deals. Given the scope of that subject content, I deal with a lot of companies. I also travel a lot, participate in a lot of programs and study and maximize the rules. Whenever you are dealing with those types of things, there will always be a need to have contact with customer service.
You are probably thinking that I am talking about complaining or pointing out issues, but that isn’t the case most of the time. Sometimes I just need clarification on something, sometimes I need my frequent flyer number changed and others I simply don’t want to go through the hassle of calling in.
The Phone Experience
Think about the customer service experience of calling in. First you have to navigate a menu. Then you have to explain the situation to a human being who may or may not understand and may or may not care. It is such a crapshoot. Will you get the help you need in an efficient and timely manner?
That previous statement sort of reminds me of Dell. Earlier this year I was trying to buy a specific product online, but I was getting an error. I called in and kept getting transferred around the office. I think they were having fun transferring me to their neighbor who in turn did the same. It was frustrating, but I really wanted that product. So what did I do? I went on chat.
Cheaper & More Effective
The truth is that chat and Twitter are much more efficient and cost effective ways to help a customer. In the Dell example, it took the chat agent awhile to figure out the issue and help, but I was free to do other things without being stuck to a phone. I also was able to write out the issue completely so that it was easily understood.
Of course I have run into this across dozens of companies. If you have an issue, the phone customer service agents may not be willing or may not be able to help, but the social media team jumps in and goes above and beyond. In one way it is frustrating that the same level of service doesn’t exist across all platforms, but that is life. The savvy consumer gets better service because they know how to get it.
A Couple of Recent Experiences
Soon I will be writing a post about my switch from T-Mobile to AT&T. Previously I wrote about the killer deal they were offering and why I was contemplating the switch. Well, I eventually pulled the trigger. When I did, one thing after the other went wrong and my wife even had a phone agent delete her order. It was a mess. Then I got on Twitter and the supervisor there is still personally dealing with some of the issues. He took control of the situation proactively and even gave me his cell number so he could text updates instead of calling!
On the other side of that situation was T-Mobile. We had 4 lines on our old plan but never used one of them so we ported only 3 numbers to AT&T. When I logged into my account after the port, it said the account was closed. Great! Then I got a bill for $105. Apparently the unused line was still open. So my wife called T-Mobile and was told the lowest they will go is $50. I went on Twitter and explained things and without hesitation the entire amount was waived since we had never even turned on a phone with that sim. My wife spent 30 minutes on the phone. I took less than 5 to send a tweet and a follow up message with the information they were requesting.
Adjusting Your Behaviors
There are literally dozens of examples in my life where Twitter customer service teams made things easier. Whether it was adding my Hyatt number to a Hotel Tonight reservation in Hawaii last week or asking Alaska about their free elite gift earlier this year. Twitter isn’t just for complaining. It is often the most friendly and efficient way to interact with a company. In some ways dealing with the social media team prevents customer service issues!
Companies may empower their Twitter teams because social media is a public forum or they might do it because it costs less than a call center and thus more can be done with less. I suspect it is a combination of both. Either way, companies have evolved and the typical level of customer service gained from a social media exchange (especially Twitter) is far superior to what you get by calling in. For that reason I have switched almost all contact with companies to online media whenever possible!