I live in a building on the verge of the “high rise” title complete with 3 levels of underground parking that, like with most lots, was designed for capacity leaving usability as a distant afterthought. So, it’s not uncommon for cars to come to an abrupt halt as residents navigate around blind corners, entrance ramps and oddly placed walls. Generally these encounters are accompanied by a look of frustration if not accusation; there is an unspoken war of who was right in their turn and who over-cut it from which we are all stuck in deadlock. Continue reading
This week Charter Cable announced that they were shutting down their social support team [through social ironically enough], Umatter2Charter, a group that went out responding to both direct questions and those found in mentions around Twitter and Facebook. It’s simply an unbelievable move but then again, Charter was [and this is amazing to say] fairly unique to have a team in the first place. And that just doesn’t make sense.
But let’s back up for a second and consider just what social support really is: customers out in the universe are asking for help, venting about a frustration, sharing their confusion and for the first time ever we can hear them before they come to us and step in before they walk away. Even for those who do reach out directly it’s on a medium where replies have to be short and can be fielded dozens at a time… No matter how you slice things it’s an obvious win as a business.
On the flip side, the stakes of social couldn’t be higher. In just one extra character or a slightly modified message a question becomes a public review / rant / critique shared with the world and saved practically forever. Not to mention that the same message is sign of a customer on the fence, made out to the world, and just begging for someone else to step in and give them a reason to jump.
But somehow it’s as if there’s still this belief that not participating means the conversation can’t happen, that the customer will just shift over to a preferred channel, that social isn’t for support.
Sure it wasn’t so long ago that social support was hardly common, where a post out was an unexpected surprise to the customer but those days are behind us. There’s even numbers showing that, not just do customers want a reply, nearly half expect it under an hour and while that’s still far more lenient than the phone, the gap is closing and fast. People will talk about you and they expect you to respond.
And yet somehow we’re still seeing this as a debate? Like we need to prove the ROI of all of social media before it becomes a fact or something.
Forget social for sales, forget engaging for prospects and for a minute think just about retention. The lifeblood of almost all businesses, what turns a high acquisition cost into profit, what makes it all work. That’s the reality that drives us to pick up the phone when it rings, why we invest in our customer experience, train our staff, so when someone tweets you an inquiry on a platform that’s far cheaper to maintain, far more public to be heard on and far easier to impress on, why would you not jump just as high?
There is no debate.
There are so many bad examples, or rather so many good examples of companies performing badly that it’s become almost too easy to make a marketing blog into one continual rant against brands. This year I’ve made it a goal to avoid doing just that and instead demonstrate my points through examples of good experiences, after all we all make mistakes. But you every now and then you run into an example so perfect that you have to set aside your rules and run with it. For me that’s been United Airlines.
It’s ironic that I’ve come to focus on United as I’ve spent the better part of my professional career advocating them and my entire life flying them. Dig around and you can probably find tweets & blog posts from years past commending decisions, showing marketing ideas but things change and as my travel has shifted from a corporate flier with elite status to a startup founder I’ve stepped down the status ladder and discovered a whole new side, in fact with merger, you could say a whole new company.