Do your digital marketing efforts have customer service at their core?

28 Apr

By Dee Jardine

I’m not going to name names, but recently I’ve had a major frustration with a service provider and their online activity.  There are a few companies that rile me on occasion, but none quiet like this one.

Things go wrong occasionally, I can appreciate that.  Technology, unforeseeable circumstances and basic human error affect the best of companies, but it’s how you handle these slip-ups that really matter to your customers.  The service provider in question irritated me as they refuse to acknowledge their Twitter account as a valid place for customers to complain.  They handle these complaints in the most outdated manner, avoiding giving customers real information and providing no solution for the customer.

Communicate

Social media platforms are there to interact with your customers. Use these platforms to your advantage to generate meaningful conversation and to genuinely respond to individual complaints.  Too often companies see their Facebook and Twitter pages as an extension of their website,  a place to showcase a portfolio and broadcast information about their services.  While these platforms are a great place to display promotions and provide information, they serve your customer as a place where they can publicly review you while seeking feedback to issues they have incurred.

If you respond to complaints in a way that shows you genuinely understand your customer’s frustration and provide them open, honest information about what went wrong they are more likely to sympathize with your error and use your service again.

I recently posted a complaint regarding my laptop purchase to an online retailer’s Twitter which they outright ignored (rude).  However my “favourite” service provider did respond, only to inform me that they do not respond to social media complaints and refered me to a form on their website to relay the same details over again.

Time is off the essence

To make matters more infuriating this service provider then sent me an automatic response email to state that they could take up to 14 working days to respond!  14 working days, around 3 weeks?! I’ve worked in retail and seen how panicky customers get it you cannot solve their problem in a matter of minutes. Since when was taking 14 working days to respond acceptable, I mean we are talking about email here, it’s not as if they have to factor in time in the postal service.

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Fortunately, they didn’t take their full 14 working days, they responded just shy of two weeks later. While they did apologise and give a lengthy explanation regarding what had went wrong with their systems on the day, it was clearly a generic email they had come up with for the incident, as it didn’t not answer my query about also being charged twice on the day to then avail of another service ran by the same provider.  So I will have to email them again for clarification on this issue and perhaps wait another couple of weeks.

Their response also directed me to another form to fill out and post to them regarding my complaint, in order to lodge the complaint formally (excuse me for thinking I’d already done that by filling out the form on their website.)

Provide a solution

The basics of dealing with a complaint online or in person are to apologise, reassure and provide a solution.  From the responses I received online it would appear that this service provider has no real intention of solving their customer’s complaints.  Just like they couldn’t on the day of the incident, when they couldn’t provide an alternative service free of charge considering I had already paid for the service they could not deliver.  Instead I paid twice the money for the service I did not want, at a time I didn’t want, after a whole lot of stress and inconvenience.  It seems to me that this provider has such a formal procedure, because they want to make it as inconvenient for customers as possible to complain and get a refund.

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