Social Media is the new form of communication, and appears to be having more impact on business behavior than an email or letter to the company president ever did. Whether it is through personal interaction or on a public forum, social computing has given a voice to consumers around the world – and that voice is often an angry one. In previous years, consumers would fight their customer service battles directly with the vendor – quiet battles that, more frequently than not, left the participant feeling like they were the only ones experiencing problems. But not any more. Social brings the conversation to the masses, and the masses are more than willing to speak up.
‘ British Airways is getting a sharp reminder that social media is a bully pulpit that welcomes big companies and little guys alike, after one disgruntled customer used promoted tweets to complain that the airline had lost his father’s luggage.
Promoted tweets are typically used by brands to gain visibility for their products and promotions. But Hasan Syed, whose Twitter handle is @HVSVN, used them to call out the airline for allegedly ruining his European business trip and failing to address the issue.
Syed reportedly bought his tweets in the New York City and United Kingdom markets, aiming to reach other British Airways customers on both sides of the Atlantic. As the hours went by and the airline did not respond, his one-man campaign attracted attention, much of it admiring and supportive.
According to The Guardian and other news outlets, the airline finally woke up to the problem and made haste to address it, saying in a statement Tuesday: “We would like to apologize to the customer for the inconvenience caused. We have been in contact with the customer, and the bag is due to be delivered today.” ‘
Social media is a sword that cuts both ways, offering a platform for both positive, and not so positive, discussions and conversations.
Using social media for customer service has become just as, if not more beneficial than, having an army of agents in the contact center. This is especially true when a crisis hits a company. Gone are the days when a customer service issue was aired solely between a consumer and the company’s contact center (and maybe a few friends within earshot). When things go wrong, consumers take to a brand’s social media channels for several reasons. Forbes.com
Particularly when you factor in the viral nature of social media interactions, and the amazing speed with which ANY message can gain broad visibility, businesses should understand that all those “friends” can turn into an ugly mob pretty quickly if an effective communications strategy isn’t in place.