The following scenario is one that most people can relate to all too well – a boy takes a girl out on a date to a local restaurant. Everything is picture-perfect that night, with the exception of the less-than-ideal service. Although the boy made a reservation in advance, the wait time is still unbelievably lengthy. The waiters and waitresses are unable to handle the large volume of customers at one time, so the impatient diners are forced to continue waiting. By the end of the night, the boy and the girl leave the restaurant angry and disappointed by their dining experience since their planned evening together was derailed by poor customer service. In this type of situation, what should the boy and the girl do with their valid complaints? What is the best way for them to share their feelings and receive a response from the business? Should they call a customer service line, or should they immediately report to their thoughts to the restaurant’s official Facebook page? Should they reach out to the business via Twitter and tweet about their unsatisfying experience? In addition to the variety of available options, another vital question is probed; that is, who will respond to their complaints?
Personally, I hate to call customer service telephone numbers, so I typically go online to file complaints. When it happens, I don’t expect that I’ll receive any direct response from the business or company, but I know that at the least people who visit the social media page and care about the brand will notice my commentary and keep my opinion in mind when it boils down to endorsing or patronizing that particular brand in the future. When I was thinking about getting the iPhone 5 and switching from AT&T to Verizon, I spent some time looking through each brand’s specific Facebook fan page. I noticed that Verizon hasn’t been very active in talking or engaging with its fans. However, Verizon has a pretty positive and responsive fan base. If there are some comments and questions on its Facebook page, Verizon’s fans and users are very willing to respond to concerns immediately. Therefore, people who leave a comment or question won’t feel that his or her opinion isn’t valued. Fans and users will become the brand’s customer service representatives (although not officially) since they are often online and they know the brand well.
Here are some funny responses from Verizon users describing their perception of the brand:
I think what happened on Verizon’s social media page is interesting. There is another brand that has proactive fans and positive commentary – Apple. Apple fans are proud of themselves for being faithful and loyal to the brand. Although Apple products are popular, it’s undeniable that some Apple products have their own flaws. Judging from the following comments, it seems like Tim Norvell wanted to get an iPhone 5 even if there are some extremely negative comments about the phone:
I think this phenomenon will become more and more common, which means that each brand will need to employ more community managers to monitor and engage in two-way conversations online. Once there are more employees regulating social media accounts, the conversation pace will be fast. Of course, a brand can choose to lay back and simply observe the dialogue taking place between its current consumers, which is exactly the approach that Verizon and Apple have implemented in the past. However, if that particular strategy is executed as a long-term communication plan, I think that it will be difficult for most brands to establish a strong fan base, and ultimately retain the reputation of an exceptional customer service brand through the eyes’ of its stakeholders.
After carefully studying Verizon and Apple’s respective approaches and trends within the social media sphere, I don’t believe that every brand should be required to be active online users. However, a corporate brand does need to ensure that the two-way exchange of conversation between itself and its customers is continuous and timely.
Do you think that if a brand is not active on social media, it’s comparable to contacting a company customer service line that no one answers?