When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel

 In social business, social media

Last week I chaired the mashup event “The social Customer and Social Loyalty” where we were fortunate to have both Warren Buckley, Managing Director, Customer Services for BT, and Amanda Brown, Head of PR from First Direct presenting.

Both BT and First Direct have been active in social media for customer service for some time, and the words of wisdom offered by Warren and Amanda were timely.

During the session, I  gave the example of how I had become a Vodafone UK advocate as a result of some outreach by the VF crew back in 2009.

I’ve been a strong supporter of Vodafone over the years. I’ve had the same Vodafone UK number from before I moved to the UK from Australia in 2005 and have been a happy post-pay customer for the last 6 years.

Recently I ported over another number to my Vodafone account, and started to receive all sorts of VF UK promotional texts.

I tweeted @vodafoneUK that I wanted these to stop, and was sent the standard “oh dear, please send us the details by clicking this link and including WRT135 in the subject line” tweet.

Look at the @vodafoneUK Tweets and you will see many like this

What Vodafone UK did here is break the chain – they moved me from my preferred channel (Twitter) onto THEIR preferred channel (website/email).

EACH and EVERY time I follow this inane process (fill in the form from the link in the tweet “with WRT135 in the subject line”), the @vodafoneUK people tweet me back saying:

  1. They can’t see my email response and I need to send it again

  2. They can’t “verify me” even though they ask you all sorts of details for the WRT135 email as per below

In order to stop the promotional texts, and after contacting Vodafone I received several phone calls, the last one confirming they were able to “verify me” and that the promotional texts would stop in “7 – 10 days”.

That was back in May.  On Sunday, I received another spammy Vodafone promotional text – presented below.

They are still coming at the rate of 1 every week or so.

I don’t want these texts. Vodafone agreed they would stop in May and they’re still coming in July.

However, I can’t be bothered tweeting @vodafoneUK about this because

  1. I will be sent the standard “click here and add WRT 135 to the subject line” tweet

  2. They will then claim to have not received my message and ask me to send it again

  3. I’ll have to prove who I am even though they call me on the number in their database in response to a tweet from @andrewgrill

  4. The texts will keep coming regardless of what they say (proof in point above)

  5. Vodafone want me to communicate via THEIR preferred channel and not mine.

 

One of the key learnings from Warren Buckley’s talk at the mashup event was that you need to service the customer via the same channel they came in on – not send them off to YOUR preferred channel as Vodafone want to do here.

The last time I had this issue with Vodafone, I ended up using my informal channels and contacting the head of Vodafone customer care directly – who managed to fix the problem.

So Vodafone Twitter team, so as to not look silly, please read this post carefully, then call me to say I’ll never receive another promotional text again – you have my number.

Oh and I assume you have my Twitter name in your CRM against my numbers. You have permission from me to store this detail in your CRM, in fact I demand that you do so I don’t have to go through groundhog day each time I want your spammy texts to stop.

NOTE: if the Vodafone Twitter team are reading this, my terms and conditions have changed for service providers.

You now can no longer request me to fill out a form or send an email from a customer service request initiated on Twitter. Same reasoning I suppose as you deciding it’s ok to put up your prices for business customers by £1 a month while already locked into a fixed term contract. Please tweet me or call me only.

 

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Futurist Keynote Speaker and former IBM Global Managing Partner, Andrew is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption and emerging technologies. He is a multiple TEDx & International Keynote Speaker. Watch his speaking showreel here, enquire about availability & fees here or listen to his latest Podcast - "The Practical Futurist Podcast" on your favourite app.

Showing 32 comments
  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/PlyBeho3

  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/t73teQqn @tweetsbyarob

  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/PlyBeho3

  • Very important for customer service: when servicing your customers via #socialmedia, respect their preferred channel: http://t.co/re7ObDKG

  • That is what i call a bad example of customer service! Thanks @AndrewGrill for reporting it http://t.co/SYNBd3WE

  • RT @AndrewGrill looking at you @vodafoneuk > Service customers using same social channel http://t.co/WzbrCS8z < & please no WRT135 reply!

  • (@inyk) (@inyk)

    RT @AndrewGrill: I’m looking at you @vodafoneuk > Service customers using the same social channel http://t.co/di3tbBnP < and please no WRT135 reply!

  • When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/1XJWnd9Z

  • simonjgray

    Is this really a problem of shifting the customer from the customer’s preferred channel to the supplier’s preferred channel, or is it actually a problem of the supplier’s preferred channel being broken.
     
    If a customer service transaction can be easily completed via Twitter (or whatever channel the customer is using) then that’s great, but I don’t think it’s any ‘customer service failure’ or ‘these idiots simply don’t get social media’ or whatever if the supplier signposts the customer to the better channel on which to more effectively complete the transaction.

  • qguk

    I believe it’s not really easy to address some issues via Twitter, especially since DM are only working if there is reciprocity in the relationship.
     
    Then, companies like VF have processes that are sometimes too rigid for their social media guys to go off road. Lastly, I agreee with simonjgray, the real problem is not the fact you have been sent to a form, it’s the fact the form was not working.

  • LaurieHurley

    I disagree with Simon. If a company uses Twitter, they should respond to a client complaint via Twitter. What great PR for them to publicly engage in good customer service.  I am sorry you are getting the major runaround. Terrible service, regardless of what social media outlets they prefer -you are the customer!

  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/PlyBeho3

  • AndrewGrill

     @LaurieHurley When companies say they are open for business on social media, they pay the “Twitter Tax”.
     
    “When you promote your online social monitoring you’re agreeing to pay the tax for the failures of your company’s operators to do their jobs.”  More at http://lc.tl/tax 

  • qguk

     @LaurieHurley customer or not, some issues just can’t be solved on Twitter. If you call up your plumber because you have a leak, will you be angry at him because he doesn’t solve your problem over the phone?

  • Clement B (@qguk)

    I just left a comment in “When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel” http://t.co/gm9Vpkn6

  • AndrewGrill

     @qguk  @LaurieHurley I’d actually just like an answer from Vodafone! Two days since I tweeted them, posted this (which they viewed Monday morning according to my web stats) and a DM to the head of their department and zero response.
     
    I don’t care how they contact me – I just want them to stop their spammy texts that they have been sending for months and promised to stop 2 months ago – and did not.
     
    A bit like a plumber not calling me back or never turning up when they say they would.

  • RT @Rach_Tran: London Calling – When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel: http://t.co/Ha6c1zFM via @AndrewGrill

  • AndrewGrill

     @qguk  @LaurieHurley update – now involved via DM with the @vodafoneuk department head – why do I have to always involve my informal channels when the official ones should just work??
     

  • simonjgray

     @LaurieHurley yes – and it is responding to the client  and publicly engaging in good customer service to redirect the customer to the appropriate webform on which the supplier can capture all the details they need in order to fully service the client.
     
    taking andrew’s specific case here – let’s, for the purposes of the discussion, assume that vodaphone in order to turn off the texts *need* the following pieces of information from him – his phone number, his full name, his postcode, and the actual details of the request / complaint he’s making. (i’ll overlook the fact that, certainly, three also now ask for pin numbers when you phone up to get them to do something related to your account) *clearly* it is not unreasonable for vodaphone to – via twitter – redirect him to a webform for him to give them those details than it is for him to give them those details in a twitter message. if vodaphone were to make alterations to his account without any proper verification (because after all anybody on twitter could send them a message claiming to be him), he’d soon be writing blog posts complaining about this, too.
     
    where a customer service transaction *can* be easily carried out in a quick exchange of a couple of twitter messages, then it’s of course grand when it happens, but i am concerned at the unreasonable expectations which certain quarters of the developing socialmediarati are putting on service providers to respond ‘how high?’ to the demand to jump; at the end of the day, the whole channel shift agenda is about reducing costs, which are then passed on to the customer. if we expect companies to actually spend *more* money in order to reproduce the systems and processes which online processes are supposed to reduce (such as expecting the twitter operatives to manually copy information into a crm system), then ultimately the customers lose in increased prices.

  • VodafoneUK

    Hi Andrew,
     
    Thanks very much for your post.
     
    I can understand your frustration; Twitter is a fantastic tool which we use to speak to thousands of customers every month, in fact over 120,000 since we first opened the account.
     
    I’d love us to be able to resolve all queries directly via Twitter, but there are data protection laws which we and all other companies must adhere to. For this reason, we have to confirm your account details for each new contact, and we have to collect this from you via a secure method- our email contact form.
     
    We do this to protect our customers. We can’t accept a Twitter username as a verification of somebody’s identity, and even if we did store your Twitter username on your account, there’d be no way for us to search for it. I guess that’s a view into the future of how social traditional CRM systems will become, but for now it’s not possible.
     
    I’m really sorry that we don’t meet your expectations in this sense, but we have to find the right compromise between keeping interactions as social as possible, and protecting our customers’ private information. 
     
    Regarding your query, I’m getting this double checked for you now. Sorry that you’ve received another message. If we need to discuss your account though, we’ll have to do it via email or phone.
    On the topic of the contact form, on occasions we do have to ask for emails to be sent again, but generally once you’ve sent your details, we won’t ask again until you ask another question at a later date. I’m sorry you had to do this repeatedly.
     
    Thanks,
     
    Tom Rushton
    Community Manager
    Vodafone UK

  • AndrewGrill

     @VodafoneUK Tom, great that you’ve joined the conversation.
     
    I totally get the data protection issues – I don’t want you discussing my account with others either.
     
    The issue is – I DO use YOUR preferred channel (the WRT135 email) and 100% of the time I do this, after no response for days I go back on twitter and am told that you never received my email.
     
    Then with more probing (and after I have sent a 2nd one) you do find it – so wasting my time.
     
    The real issue here is that your team promised the texts would stop, and they did not. I am glad that you are fixing this and I will report back to the London Calling  community when this has been resolved.
     
    Also, why has it taken 48 hours for @vodafoneuk to join the conversation? Again I had to follow up with more tweets and now hundreds have read that you’re just joining in.
     
    If you had responded on Monday morning then all they would be reading is how fast you jumped in and resolved this.
     
    You’re paying the twitter tax (http://lc.tl/tax) – not because of your twitter team (who are awesome) instead because your internal processes are broken (WRT135 emails being lost etc, requests not being actioned regarding promotional spam texts).
     
    Twitter is great – it just exposes how broken existing processes at large companies are (and VF is not alone!)
     
    Appreciate your response here and hope we can stop the VF promotional spam texts soon.
     

  • Good Point – When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel // http://t.co/D5HpusVs

  • there’s a bit of a debate about doing customer services via twitter going on at http://t.co/7am3F6ZI if you’re in to in that sort of thing

  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/PlyBeho3

  • VodafoneUK

     @AndrewGrill  @vodafoneuk Just a quick update, I now understand that the texts you received aren’t technically promotional/spam. They relate to an allowance of music tracks you get free as a special offer. The only way for us to stop them is to remove the offer, which we can do if you like.
     
    Re: the email form, points noted, I’ll feed back the issues as we always do.
     
    Thanks,
     
    Tom

  • AndrewGrill

     @VodafoneUK Tom, please delete all intro offers
     
    – iPhone tethering
    – 3 months free data
    – VF Music
     
    please leave passport on the account

  • Livefyre

    @VodafoneUK We’re looking into the matter, could you email us at support@livefyre.com so we can update you further? cc @AndrewGrill

  • traceybrown74

    RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/GSW5g0fS

  • RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/GSW5g0fS

  • When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel~by @AndrewGrill http://t.co/VP5RAYLO

  • AndrewGrill

    RT @kohlben: When servicing your customers via social media, respect their preferred channel http://t.co/GSW5g0fS

  • AndrewGrill

    @VodafoneUK We’re looking into the matter, could you email us at support@livefyre.com so we can update you further? cc @AndrewGrill

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