Tag: Customer Service

Twitter’s future and customer service

I am a little behind my reading this week. On the i-media newsletter I found an interesting article from Brendan Nelson about “Where next for Twitter?”

Reason me picking up on this one is that Nelson pointed out a few very interesting things about Twitter.

The idea of brands to embrace Twitter is not new. He uses the example of First Capital Connect to alert travelers of any train problems. My hosting provider uses the same method to alert me when the server is down. I know of a company, or many by now, that embrace social media to engage with their clients. Example is a broadband provider where the Managing Director got a keyword alert on a Sunday morning for his brand name that someone was unhappy with his service. He engaged with the customer and sorted things out for him Monday morning, resulting in the person twittering about the great customer service and engagement with the client! This is just one example of many.

In the old days people recalled products, sent letters and tried to reach people through offline advertising. Nowadays people use 140 characters, instant online SMS, to engage with other people. They recommend services and point other users to positive experience with brands – but also to negative experience with brands. People use “Search”, e.g. Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to FIND recommendations, products and services. And, the more positive news they read about your product the better.

Last week on Twitter, I engaged in a conversation about a mobile phone network. Others tweeted about their bad experience being on hold to their broadband provider, eventually hung up and used a different provider.

What do brands have to do? Engage with your clients via social media. That is the key. Monitor your brand name online and be sure you are found for anything related to your products and services, your brands etc. The bigger the corporation and the more brand names you have, the more important is it to monitor all of them. You can automate that but ideally have someone dedicated to engage with anything that is said about any of your brands…at any one time.

Whilst Google for instance takes a few days to index some pages, Twitter is there instantly. It is real time. If someone opens a “can of coke” and has a bad experience, she might tweet about it whilst waiting for the bus. She turns her “downtime” into “bad reputation for the coke producer”. You want to engage with her and use her next downtime to tweet about the positive response she got from you. Make your client/customers happy! Make them being noticed and feel good. If they do, they will tell their friends about it. And don’t forget, this is REAL TIME. And that makes twitter so powerful. And of course, the more followers you or the person has, the more brand awareness (positive as well as negative) you get! Viral marketing!

Why is Twitter so closely related to search marketing? Firstly, I believe that Twitter is offering instant search. That means people will use Twitter more and more to find most relevant and most up to date information. And, it is reputation management, as people talk about things on Twitter.

Secondly, as a brand, or any brand really, you want to know what your customer says, thinks and would like to see. If someone has an idea of how to improve your chocolate bar, your computer or your software – you want to know. Therefore it becomes more and more important to find those information and turn them into value within your organisation. Dell for instance created a forum for customer support that gained them great ideas which in return relates to millions of pounds in savings for product development.

Taking the two things to mind, you want to be found for what your customers associate you with. If you produce a chocolate bar you don’t want to be found for “chocolate bar” only. If you clients talk about you having “the coolest tasting chocolate bar on the planet”, you want to be found for that keyword and drive that message out through online and digital marketing use. By driving these keywords out there, people will use those keywords and you will be found for them – that is if you optimise for them. Look at Orange’s “I am” campaign.

orange-i-am

Now, I can conclude, that customer service in real time is very important and that Twitter is a very valuable source, amongst blogs, forums and other social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Hi5, and Orkut, for you to engage with your clients. Get your communication right and embrace social media and your clients where they are. Embrace their opinion in real time!

Follow me on Twitter, @ballueder

customer service again – fitness first last

Hello,

I wrote about fitness first’s customer service before. Now, I decided to leave them and join my local council gym. It is cheaper, closer and it upgraded all the gym equipment.

After the last hassle of changing between clubs my contract got “officially renewed” although I have been with fitness first for quite some time. Now I have to wait for the minimum period to be over to cancel the membership, and have to see an adviser to cancel my membership too.

That is what I did today. And, I was positively surprised. I had to sign another form that says I want to cancel and not take the opportunity to sign up for some free stuff if I decided to stay. Got a temporary card and can use the gym until end of the year. Not too bad.

Will then join the council gym, Beckenham Spa, for £13/month less and it is about 10 minutes closer to home. What else I want. Happy days?!

Only problem: the time to use the gym 🙂

Have a good weekend
Volker

Vodafone – bad customer service and pushy sales tactics

Hello,

Now, let me have an official go at Vodafone.

As, in my eyes, best provider of mobile services due to its reception in all areas of the UK, including the Scottish Highlands, I find Vodafone quite bad in regards to customer service and sales tactics.

Customer Service first:

My wife was due for an upgrade. When asking the person on the phone, she suggested to get 50 minutes and 50 text more for the same price. So, I was put on the account and started negotiating. Unfortunately, it has not been the first time that happens. Because I had to do that with my contract as well. The trick is that you tell them what T-Mobile offers. Then they say that they cannot offer that to existing but to new customers only.

That is the first problem – why treat customers that have been with you for 18 months worse than some that just want to become your clients? That is the old sales tactic to hook the client. Once the client signs up, Vodafone does not seem to be interested anymore.

My negotiation tactic goes on: “If you cannot offer me a better deal I have to go to T-Mobile.” The magic answer from the upgrade team is: “Ok, I put you through to our promotional team.” Once you are there you get the deal they offer new clients and you feel really happy because you got a very good deal. I am jealous my wife as a new phone now and a really good deal. Ach well, I am due for an upgrade in 8 months and then I can negotiate an even better deal 😉

Now, the problem I have is that I need to escalate things. As an exisiting client I really should not have to do that. I should get a phone call when I am due to upgrade with a really good deal instead of pushing the service provider to give it to me. BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE VODAFONE!

Sales second:

It gets better. I had about 5 missed calls from Vodafone myself and when I finally answered, a pushy sales person offered me a 2nd line because I am such a good customer. When I said that I do not need one, and that no one has a pay as you go, as he suggested, that wanted to upgrade, he offered me the “deal of my life”.

Why, so he suggested, not get a 2nd sim card for yourself. He checked my account and, of course, I go over my limit every month. So, if I had a 2nd sim I could put it into my phone when my current free bundle is finished. When I asked how people would reach me on my current number, he suggested I could text everyone in my address book once a month to let them know my number changed (and of course using 500 texts for it). It would only be £10/month for a 2nd sim with enough minutes and it works out so much cheaper for me.

I asked him if he was serious because that is the most ridiculous sales tactic and suggestion I had ever heard. Why would someone do that and change their number in the middle of the months to save 2 or 5 pounds? If they had offered me an upgrade to another contract that would have made sense but changing to a 2nd sim just does not do it for me. I would rather go to a competitor, get a new phone and a new contract. VERY BAD SALES TACTIC AND TOO PUSHY!

Summa summarum:

I am with Vodafone for the coverage in the UK. For customer service I would go back to T-Mobile or O2. Latter’s coverage is supposendly very good also, so maybe I change next year. People calling me up to offer me unreasonable, useless deals is just wrong. And, it does not shed a good light on a company that presents itself to the outside in a complete different branding.

Vodafone – change your sales tactic and offer me a job as a Sales Director UK 🙂 (Sorry, A., I am not serious.)

Have a good weekend,

Volker

fitness first – customer service second!

Fitness First seems to be one of the biggest fitness clubs in the UK.

However, their customer service is appalling. I try to be constructive with my critics:

I joined them in their Bloomsbury gym in March and went during lunch time. Since I got busier I could not go anymore and tried to go to the Beckenham club since. There I have to sign in every time I go and if I have any membership related questions they refer me to Bloomsbury.

So, on 14th of July (coming up 2 months) I filled in a form to transfer my membership at same conditions and be a member in Beckenham.

Since, I had  about 5 calls, voice mails etc, returned the calls and nothing has happened. NOTHING at all. Left notes at the reception desk too. Ergo, I called their customer service team in their head office yesterday and said “no one seems to be interested and if I do not hear from you I quit and go somewhere else”.

Guess, nothing has happened.
I think I might have to go to the Bloomsbury branch and quit my membership and start a new one in Beckenham. The assumption I make is that I need to pay extra to join the Beckenham gym. Would not surprise me.

When I refered someone to the club it took them 4 weeks (f-o-u-r) to actually sort out my referral voucher which I had to redeem the same day due to its validity. I was not impressed and complained about that – still waiting for an answer and excuse. And, the watch I got was not working properly – did not really want it but had to chose something!

Maybe big clubs can afford to lose members and can afford an arrogant attitude towards their members. There is no doubt their gym equipment is top notch and their trainers are well educated, but, with all enthusiasm, I cannot see anyone caring for their customers….

If you pick that up, Fitness First, let me know and feel free to comment.

Anyone else had bad experience with them? I knew why I took out a 3 months membership, I might just go back to the council gym for half the price but friendly people….you will see!

Btw, I like their comment about “Fitness First is always working hard to make sure you get the best benefits for your membership – inside and outside your club!”

Wow, they save you pounds but don’t have any offers? And, they are working hard for you to get the best benefits for your membership – WORK HARDER!

customer service once again

Hello,

Today another story of poor customer service – from the financial sector for a change.
I wrote to my lovely credit card (cc) company a “secure message” asking to raise my limit. Purely to be on the safe side for our house expenses coming up (not that I can put the whole house on the cc 🙂 ).
So, I got a nice message back within a few hours saying that it is not a problem and the limit was granted.

However, today a company called me up saying my cc is not working. Embarrassing! I spoke to my cc company and they said that I the limit was not raised and that I cannot get a higher limit. I said “fair enough” as I do not necessarily need the limit, however I asked how they dared to tell me they raised the limit but did not.

“I should write a complaint online about the limit” they said. So I did, mentioning the above and explicitly saying “I do not care about the limit but mainly about you telling me that the limit was raised”. Haha, got a message back saying that for an appeal about the limit I would have to……

Often I wonder about customer service.  And why people are too stupid to understand me and my emails. Sometimes I wonder if it is me?! Then I show people my emails and they reassure me that it is not me – it is them!

I now replied, again via secure message, that I don’t care about the limit. I care about their service. 18 months ago their charged me for being 150 GBP over the limit for 24 hours and it took 10 emails to sort it and get my money back. Ridiculous.

Alright, I keep you posted.

Volker