Given the number of queries I’m getting and the way the comments have made me think, here’s a crisp summary of what happened and some valid lessons on social media engagement, for organizations. My earlier post was done as a customer annoyed with poor service; this one, however, stems from my professional role…as someone who works with clients, on dealing with such issues.
- Blue Dart was slated to deliver a courier from Standard Chartered Bank on Dec. 26th.
- They sent me a text message at 9:30pm on that day that they ‘tried to deliver it, but I was unavailable’.
- I was at home the whole day on Dec. 26th! And, that text message riled me, to put it mildly.
- I tweeted about it, the same night.
- An employee of a sister concern of Blue Dart happened to see my tweet (I do not know if that person follows my tweets or got my tweet via the brand mention – if its the latter…hats off!) and responded.
- I got a text message from that person on 28th morning that the issue has been escalated internally and that I’d most likely get my courier delivered the same day
- I got the courier delivered on 28th morning
- I was terribly upset on Saturday when I saw the text message. The first thing I tried was trying to contact Blue Dart via the official channels, but it was too late on a Saturday night. And on Sunday, they offer no support. So I tweeted and blogged about it. Customers are bound to use this option more often than not, in the future. More so, when they are not satisfied with your organization’s prescribed customer service outlets. Be ready to first know that someone is saying something about your brand. And be ready respond in a timely manner as well. In our social media PR parlance, we call these ‘listening’ and ‘reactive engagement’, respectively. Delay will only make things worse. Not responding at all may make it seem like the customer’s version is right, even if it isn’t!
- The response I got was from someone unknown to me – it was written straight-to-the-point, without bothering overtly about the harsh tone of my tweet. But it was effective the way it communicated 3 things – (1) they’re sorry, (2) how can they help? (3) operational details – my shipment number/ name! It helps if you’re able to remove the emotion from such whines, when they happen online. Go about it like it is your business (it indeed is!) and customers are bound to appreciate your focus on solving problems, regardless of how annoyed they are. The point is…problems are bound to happen; how you solve it is as important as the effort you put into not repeating them.
- That professional and matter-of-fact tone completely put me at ease. I was surprised too, but the fact that somebody listened to me on a Saturday night was assuaging enough. This sort of ambient, all-pervading social awareness is what organizations should strive for. It is difficult, given the numbers and multiple time zones, but a formal process to make this happen can solve many issues by simply being there to respond, even nominally. The tone is ‘we care’ – that is a great start…the rest will automatically follow. Merely having this outsourced may not work in isolation – see next point for more!
- My opinion changed and my stance softened considerably, particularly when I came to know that the concerned person was from a sister concern – I really admire the kind of people the larger organization has! As a customer-serving organization, your employees are your best assets…for everything, not just sales or profits, but also for customer support, service, PR, brand image and so on! This person opened a channel of communication when the official channel was unavailable. Such quick thinking can easily douse many online PR disasters.
- I’m just one single customer and this blog is being read by a few thousands – my tweets are in no way viral. But, a connection was made based on the urgency of the issue. Serving star online influencers alone may not always be the right way – no doubt, your organization could quickly win much brownie points given the viral’ity of a star influencer mentioning you, but consider a future scenario where a prospective customer is searching for your organization’s services – this negative mention from a seemingly lesser influencer is bound to crop up – add another negative comment to it and it may well spread, not instantly, but over a period of time.Think about it this way – you upset one customer and he puts up a notice outside his home about the poor quality of your organization’s service. His house may not be located in the most crowded part of town, but there indeed are people walking past that house everyday.
- The text message on Monday indicated closure. It was followed by a few calls explaining their stand, by which time I was happy to just get my courier. I was willing to give the benefit of doubt to Blue Dart based on the kind of interactions I’ve been having. Had I got the first official response from the company on Monday – a full day after I got the text message, my stand would have been far more acrimonious. That intermediate communication really helped tone things down. This is just a small issue with courier delivery – think about how it could help a far more serious service lapse!
Have you had a similar experience where your online whining helped you get the attention of a brand? How did your reaction change after the brand communicated with you based on your online rant? Do share.