This article was authored by Grace In Mono, and was originally posted on telecomasia.net.
Unless you live under a rock or in North Korea, you should know that social is the way to go.
Social media – blogging, online social networking, and micro-blogging – have become so pervasive that it is almost unthinkable for a business entity – at least those who want to remain relevant – not to use them.
In telecom, social media have transformed not only business models but the very concept of customer service. Never before have consumers been given the power and ability to inquire, give feedback, complain, demand, or throw a fit with the whole of cyberspace as audience.
But are telcos using Facebook and Twitter in a way that improves customer experience? Or are they using social media only because they have to? My Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline are a rich source of anecdotes telling me that it’s more the latter than the former.
I have read a variety of posts ranging from simple complaints (“My internet is slow today.”), to clarificatory (“Is there a way to fix this?”), to violent (“Magsara na lang kayo!”). That last quote in Filipino roughly translates to “just close shop!”, which doesn’t quite capture how an irate, desperate customer truly feels once all civility and options have been exhausted.
I, too, have seen how ridiculous telcos can get on social media.
One time, I ranted on Twitter about being unable to get a call through a telco’s hotline to claim an iPhone 4 which was my loyalty reward. In response, I received an auto tweet from that telco selling me their iPhone 5 bundle.
Another time, I was chatting with a friend about the growing general dissatisfaction of customers with telcos. “I have completely lost faith in (insert telco name),” my friend expressed. Suddenly, a telco’s online customer care specialist butted in on the thread and asked: “How could I be of service to you today?☺ That question was obviously disconnected to the conversation and adding a smiley did not cheer us up. Not one bit.
So how can telcos use social media to improve customer service?
Balance marketing with customer care. Social media can and should benefit both you and your customer. While it is okay to sell a new product or launch a service on social media, it is not okay to flood a customer’s Twitter timeline or Facebook newsfeed with marketing and PR materials every minute of every day. Why not post reminders about the numbers or email a subscriber can contact when having problems with a device, service, or billing? How about tweeting a notice related to changes in policy or procedures that might affect the quality of a service or a particular customer segment? Remember, telcos, you are there to help (too).
Share information that customers can use to make the right decisions. These customers can be a student-on-a-budget deciding to get an unlimited data service or a non-techie mom who wants to terminate an on-demand text alert on her mobile phone. Whatever it is, make the information relevant.
Give specific answers to specific questions. This entails a deeper level of interaction with customers online. Tweeting like a bot or offering a vague response that is out of context does not do anything other than annoy. If answers are too long or detail too technical, offering to call or to talk in private would be much appreciated.
Social media is all about personalization. Similar to the offline setting, knowing the context or a customer’s situation is important before one can contribute anything of value to the conversation. Selling a product to someone who’s swearing off the same is a huge, laughable #FAIL.
Telcos beware. Hell hath no fury like a customer scorned on social media. Rethink your social media strategy and make it work for customers. Or before you know it, you are already in an unflattering meme.