Using Twitter as customer service resource - Don't just apologise, make your presence count!

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, then you may have been alerted to the fact that I was not too happy with the service levels at Symantec last week. To provide a bit of context – I had a very simple query.  I received a notification advising me that I needed to renew my Norton 360 license with them – simple – and I did that no problem. Viral

However, the license I have is for 3 machines, and I wanted to switch one of the licenses and see whether Linux platforms were supported in that license.  A quick call – or live chat query, or even email support would have sufficed.  The query could have been resolved in, say, 2 minutes.

I searched on their website for answers to my queries – but nothing was evident, and so I hunted down a number to call and eventually found an office in Reading.  I called them and having completed at least 4 rounds of call selection – I was then put into a queue.

It was interesting, because in the queue, I wasn’t notified that it was going to take me an hour and a half to get through – instead, I was repeatedly advised to hold on the phone, as if I hung up, I would lose my place in the queue and have to start again.

I waited, and waited – after 40 minutes, I started to get really fed up – but the, by now, terrifying mantra came at me again – hang up and I’ll lose my place!

Of course, I wasn’t just sitting there winding myself up during the long wait – oh no, I tried to be as productive as possible.  I visited their site again, hunted down the FAQs, hunted down a search facility, inserted the keywords relating to my query etc etc.

Pages upon pages of results returned – totally off the mark – and now I’m getting more and more frustrated.

After 90 minutes on hold – I was now uber twitchy – of course, my Twitter app was open, so I posted; ‘Can’t believe I’ve been waiting on hold at Symantec for an hour and a half, disgusting.’

Fortunately, or unfortunately for the poor chap I did eventually get put through to, they answered the call shortly after, (1 hour and 38 minutes on hold.  That’s got to be a record!)  Flabbergasted, I wanted an explanation, why, what… however, the very nice chap I was now through to in the Philippines had no answers.  Sorry - we’re busy, that’s all I can say.  He answered my query and worked through what I needed to do – and all was fixed.  However, I was still finding the whole waiting on hold for that amount of time, incredulous.

Interestingly, just 10 minutes after I’d posted on Twitter – I received a message on Twitter from NortonOnline asking how they could help me.  Had my problem been resolved - sorry to hear I wasn't happy?

I’d also received a few Direct Messages from others advising me that they too thought Symantec were terrible.  Poor service levels – not responsive.  One chap had been trying to cancel a standing order with them for months!

I tried to Direct Message NortonOnline, but because they weren’t following me, had to post to all, advising that yes it had been fixed – but did they really think that 90 mins on hold was acceptable?

I also queried, the point as to why they hadn’t they promoted their Twitter support on their website?  Had I seen that, then I’d have been on them like a shot.  And why no live chat – particularly as they clearly don’t have the mechanisms to handle calls responsively?

They thanked me for my suggestions and my great feedback!  Hmmmm.

What’s clear, however, is that Twitter and no doubt Facebook, are being closely watched by the corps.   Brand reputation is clearly being managed very closely online – with the remit to capture any negativity before it spirals out of control – and turns into a Dell Hell.

Let’s hope that more and more businesses start to utilise Twitter as a means of responding to customer queries – but actually adding real value.  I’d much rather be dealing with a 10 minute response than a 90 minute one.  That would speak volumes for a brand – the fact that they are actually servicing customers, rather than simply looking at preserving their brand reputation – the two are interlinked.  The fact that NortonOnline came back to me quickly online via Twitter, didn’t temper the negative vibes that had manifested whilst waiting on hold for 90 minutes.

Being responsive in the social media arena can’t just be about apologies – it’s got to be about servicing the consumer.   So take heed all you corps that are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.  Don’t just pay lip service and make your presence all about managing your brand reputation, but get real service running via Twitter and really make your presence count!

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Best wishes

Michelle Carvill

Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.