Customers Want Responses to Tweeted Complaints But What About Solving Real Problems?

November 7, 2011 Comments
Customers Want Responses to Tweeted Complaints But What About Solving Real Problems?

According to research firm Maritz Research, nearly half of customers who tweeted a complaint toward a brand expected a response or at least for the brand to read their tweet (not sure how they would know if a Tweet was read if there wasn’t a response.) However, only one third of those customers actually received a response.

The good news, and despite the gap between customer expectations and what brands are actually delivering on Twitter, customers are overwhelmingly positive when brands take the time to actually respond. The Maritz study showed that 86% of customers who request help on Twitter would have liked to hear from the company regarding their complaint, obviously; and out of those who heard back, 75% were satisfied with the company’s response.

According to a Forrester report earlier this year, 58% of US marketers believe that listening and engaging with the social customers through social media channels will help with customer perceptions of their brand. Also, 56% said their social media efforts would aid in building long-term customer relationships.

Now the bad news.

Comcast, who revolutionized customer support on Twitter, does a damn good job listening and responding to customers on the social web. In fact, they are often cited in whitepapers, case studies and blog posts. I even mentioned them in my book a few times.  If I tweeted right now that my cable was out or the internet wasn’t working, I guarantee that the folks behind @comcastcares would be all over it like white on rice.

According to  Kip Wetzel, Sr. Director Social Media Servicing & Strategy of Comcast the main goal of @comcastcares is to solve problems for the customer. Here is Kip being interviewed by Brian Solis. Take a look.

But there is a problem here that no one really seems to talk about.

While Comcast is handling individual customer problems on Twitter, it seems like they are ignoring the root cause of problem.  The main issue on Twitter today is that Comcast Technicians do not make it on time to their appointments or they don’t show up at all.  Here is what the Comcast Customer Guarantee states:

We will always be on time within your appointment window or we’ll credit you $20 or give you a free premium channel for three months

While 20 bucks or a free premium channel for three months is pretty cool, it’s simply a band aid solution attempting at covering up the real issues which is technicians cannot make their appointments on time. Last month, USA Today reported that Americans waited 4.3 hours on average for the cable guy to arrive. On an individual basis, that works out to about $250 a year, or two full working days which works out to a whopping $37.7 billion a year. This is a huge problem.

Here are several other examples of people complaining about technicians either being late OR not showing up. A quick browse of the Customer Service Scoreboard shows a similar sentiment.

This is not a customer support problem. It’s not a marketing problem and it’s certainly not a communication problem. It’s a process and operations problem.  There is something broken in the process; from the time a customer dials into customer support and requests a technician to when the technician actually arrives to their scheduled destination. It could be a technology issue, a broken process or maybe Comcast just needs to hire more technicians.

This is what social business is about – taking the collective feedback from the community and not only changing the way you communicate but the way you do business.

One cable company seems to be looking to solve the “late cable guy” problem. Kimberly Edmunds, SVP of Customer Operations at Cox Communications is in a newly created position helping to provide a seamless customer service experience across all of Cox’s customer touch points.

Notice her title has nothing to do with marketing, but operations.

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