For service-driven industries, social media are a godsend. Or not.

by dawnsmms13

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Before the advent of Facebook as a forum, customer service complaints were dealt with on a one-on-one – private – basis. Having an issue with your Verizon device or service? The “private” options are to go to a Verizon store with the complaint, phone and speak to a representative, contact a representative through online chat, or send an email. Lots of choices, and any one of them should work.

But for one Verizon customer, who contacted tech support and went to two stores regarding a problem with his phone, the conventional avenues broke down. Mr. Fraire felt disrespected and got angry, and posted to the company’s Facebook page following a post by another dissatisfied customer. What began as a problem with a phone became a bigger problem with customer service.

That single post generated 29 replies, many of them similarly critical of Verizon’s customer service. Some suggested alternate carriers. And it took almost two full days before Verizon responded to the post, taking the conversation offline. Was the customer’s issue resolved? We don’t know, as there was no follow-up post by either the customer or Verizon.

Do companies deal with customer service differently in social media? Clearly, they should. Facebook pages are like the water cooler in the workroom: People gather around and talk about what’s on their minds in an informal, open way. It’s up to the boss – the owner of the page – to recognize a problem, decide if it’s legitimate, and do something before it escalates.

In this case, Verizon compounded the problems experienced by one individual by not responding promptly, and not posting afterwards to say that the issue had been addressed (which makes me think it wasn’t). This failure in customer service simply underscored the customer’s original complaint . . . in front of an audience.

Of course, that negative experience could have been turned into positive relationship building if Verizon had handled the issue properly.  But they didn’t. A definite misstep, especially for a company in the business of communication.

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