In June of this year I declared (okay, I suggested) that “People Have the Power” was the social media anthem.
“… to wrestle the world from fools” (Patti Smith)
This past week, I experienced the power of social media – on the flip side – as a customer. Here is the scoop …
Like many, I hit a high frustration level with my cable provider. My ire started a few weeks back when the Philadelphia Phillies were in the playoffs and I could not watch them on TV because of a dispute between Fox Networks and the cable company. (Fox programming was pulled.) Then, in an unrelated event, I ordered DVR. The cable company was great with the sell, poor with the follow up service – even to the extent of messing up my bill.
I called customer service and despite having a very pleasant customer rep, they were inept at resolving issues. After getting absolutely nowhere, I took the issue to social channels. Here is my telling tale …
That evening on November 2nd out of pure frustration, I tweeted “Cable Company is the absolute worst. Can not believe what I just went through. The worst.”
I was actually surprised I did not get a response because when I tweeted about my displeasure of having Fox programming dropped a couple weeks back, I got an almost immediate tweet reply from the cable company pointing me to an article stating that Fox refused to go to arbitration on the matter.
So the next morning (11/3) I tweeted “Anyone know how to get Cable Company issues resolved? Wait on phone, answer questions, pass the call, disconnect. Help.”
Later that afternoon, I get an email … “I work in Cable Company’s PR department and saw on Twitter that you are having some issues. What’s going? I’d love try to help.”
Could it be? Finally help on the way? So I responded to my PR friend thanking her for the follow up and I highlighted a handful of my issues for her. I told her nothing was accomplished with “customer service” and asked her what the next steps were. The saga continues as the cable company works to get my settop box picked up and correct the erroneous billing. Not efficient, but at least they are working on it now.
Yes, there are a number of other well documented cases of the customer taking their issues to social channels: a) almost 10M views of a mistreated United Airlines customer that had his guitar broken by baggage handlers ; b) the story of Air Canada fixing a young boy’s wheelchair after a viral outrage – these are just two examples. Granted, my story did not get the mass of attention. But it did get the right attention from the cable company. The sad part is that customer service was completely non-responsive, but Cable Company’s PR person recognized the potential ramifications and looked to take some control.
(I would also note that I have used social media to publicly state “kudos” to companies that have demonstrated exceptional customer care.)
Now if you think about my experience, there are two perspectives you should consider. One as the customer and one as the brand delivering a product, service, or content to a target audience.
From a customer perspective, know it is YOU that sets brand reputation. While companies like to set their brand position, the power of the people is the one that defines the brand reputation. Use your power appropriate. Reward brands that deliver true value to you. Socialize their excellence. Don’t just be a whiner. If you have a gripe, take action only when warranted. People have a tendency to vocalize negative situations and not concentrate on positive scenarios and outcomes. Show some resistance and balance in your life and in your use of social channels directed at brand reputation.
From a brand company perspective, it is pretty simple. Be aware of the customer perspective as I just mentioned. Their new found power that social media makes possible, and your need and obligation to deliver true value. Your success is no longer defined by sales alone, but rather every element of the customers’ experiences. With this in mind, I have two points of guidance for brand companies:
1) To all those who are afraid to get active in social media for fear of someone else controlling brand – it is happening anyway. Get involved and influence your brand reputation.
2) Don’t think social media. Think of EVERYTHING related to the customer experience. If you follow this golden rule your batting average of success will be quite high.
Got a story to share on the power of people due to the social space? Have a perspective you’d like to share? Chime in.
Make It Happen!