The Social Customer Is Always Right

Originally published on the David All Group’s social marketing blog
By K. Daniel Glover

One evening last month, we started getting robocall after robocall from our insurance company on our home telephone. I tolerated a few of those interruptions from Allstate before I decided to take action. But what could I possibly do to halt recorded phone calls?

Then it hit me: Tweet!

So I did. I sent a couple of pointed but friendly tweets to @Allstatenews, specifically calling out Guy Hill, the executive vice president whose recorded voice kept disturbing our family time, and I included a link to Hill’s bio so the Twitter manager would know he was a real Allstate person.

Allstate promptly replied and the robocalls stopped. Even better, Hill sent me (and other customers) an apologetic note by snail mail a few days later and included a $25 gift card. “This is not typical of how Allstate operates, and we are taking the necessary steps to help ensure mistakes like this will not happen in the future,” the letter said.

My experience proves that the cardinal rule of commerce — the customer is always right — has never been more true than in today’s social media era.

It also illustrates why I rarely bother lodging customer-service complaints by telephone. Why endure that grief, which often yields no satisfaction, when I can spur a major corporation into action by tweeting 140 characters or by posting an embarrassing photo to Facebook?

When I recently purchased Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups only to discover a mess of misshapen, discolored, chunky and foul-tasting treats, I snapped a photo and posted it to the Reese’s page. The company responded within minutes and told me how to submit a complaint. A few days later, I received a coupon as reimbursement for my purchase.

But the biggest bonus I ever reaped by taking a complaint online came courtesy of Comcast, a company with a storied reputation for bad customer service.

Ironically, I never expected to get any satisfaction for saying “Bye-Bye Comcast” on my personal blog. I intended the post as my very public breakup with the company. But by then, Comcast had begun resurrecting its customer-service image through social media (see our “Essential Guide to Twitter” for a case study). I was stunned when a local Comcast manager responded to my blog post by calling me himself.

Although reluctant to give Comcast another chance, I ultimately did when the company beat the special offer from Verizon that had enticed me to dump Comcast. We saved nearly $200 over a year’s time, and we still have Comcast as a cable, phone and Internet provider — all because the company heard and heeded my rant via social media.

So the next time you have a bad consumer experience, forget the telephone. Tweet directly at the company. Post your complaint to the brand’s Facebook wall so your fellow customers can see it — and see how the company responds.

Social customers are always right because by taking their gripes public, they shape brand images, for better or worse.

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