**Part I of this post can be found here.
We all know that big corporations with a lot of money often end up skimping in the customer service department: automated answering machines, unlisted phone numbers, long wait times, and archaic ways of getting in touch. However, since the rise of social media, more and more companies are finding that these new tools, especially Twitter, allow consumers unlimited methods to share reactions, opinions, and recommendations on certain products or services, either positive or negative. Therefore, companies are finding that listening to certain hashtags and personal handles are cheap and easy ways to appease angry customers fast – before the noise starts to spread.
By strategically using these tools, you’ll be able to raise your voice above the clutter and get your way in record time, even from the biggest of customer-eating corporations. Hence, I give you Exhibits A & B: Bank of America and Mailchimp as examples for your own customer service needs.
Exhibit A: Bank of America
Bank of America isn’t doing so well. After new federal regulations set limits on debit card swipe fees, big banks are expecting an estimated $6.6 billion a year in lost revenue. For banks, this means it’s time to get creative: Bank of America recently announced they will be charging debit card users $5 per month, starting early 2012. Personally, I’m planning on switching all of my banking over to Ally come January, but since I’m currently in Ghana, having an international bank that partners with Barclays is helpful for the time being.
I logged online last week to check if a transfer went through, only to see an $8.95 fee glaring straight at me from my balance sheet. **Note: Let me also be perfectly clear – this is not the first time I have logged onto my Bank of America online banking to find incorrect, exorbitant, or confusing fees. Usually, all it takes is a polite yet firm phone call to customer service to remove it. Since I wasn’t interested in wasting money on a phone call to customer service from Ghana, I went straight to my Cotweet panel.
This was the first message I sent. Notice the #occupywallst and #bofa hashtags? Since the protests down in Liberty Square are quickly gaining media traction and Bank of America is one of the targets, popular hashtags like these are sure to garner more attention than by simply using the Bank of America Twitter handle.
Their reply, 15 minutes later.
Since I’m in Ghana, I gave it to them straight. Call me here and suck up the cost!
It turned out that the cost was legitimate, as a checking account maintenance fee occurs without a direct deposit to the account every month. However, that doesn’t mean I’m still going to pay it. The fee was removed as a courtesy, and since I’ll be canceling my Bank of America accounts in the very near future, I will no longer have to deal with excessive fees to a large and unruly corporation.
Exhibit B: Mailchimp
My significant other runs an art curation website called Art Sumo, which relies heavily on email marketing. Every day, his customer base receives a lovely and exotic painting of the day directly to their inbox, courtesy of email marketing service Mailchimp. Since his business model depends on developing world artwork, he is currently hanging in Ghana procuring paintings from small artists all over the country. Even though he is abroad, to his customers, it’s still business as usual; a painting is still expected by email everyday.
However, when my boyfriend logged onto his Mailchimp account only to find the site blocked from his IP address, he took matters into his own hands with social media.
His first Twitter message to Mailchimp.
I decided to join the party, too, for some extra oomph.
The reply, a couple of hours later.
Although Mailchimp’s first email wasn’t all that helpful, the problem was quickly remedied with a direct link to someone on their support team. It turns out that Ghana is a blocked country on their list, and so they first asked us to change our network. Um, that isn’t possible, Naysawn told them. After a few email exchanges, Mailchimp did the unthinkable:
They unblocked Ghana.
Both of these customer service debacles could have ended with very different stories – like hours spent on hold listening to bad opera – but instead, were solved within minutes of logging onto Twitter. Social media allows customers to voice their opinion, so make sure you leverage your input! So far, I’ve had the best experience with a good-humored tweet (so your tweets are not taken as the enraged ravings of a lunatic) and a strategically placed #fail hashtag, other popular hashtag (i.e. #occupywallst) or company Twitter handle.
Want more examples? Part I of this post can be found here.