Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is Your Social Media Strategy Showing Up Other Corporate Strategies?

I had an interesting interaction yesterday with my local cable and internet provider, Charter Communications.  The company is infamous for poor customer service and has recently made great strides in trying to boost their corporate image.  In general, they have a great product.  In my experience their High Speed internet blows DSL out of the water, and their Cable products are also excellent.  The problem is, their customer service is terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE.  After a month of issues with our cable and 2 days of issues with internet, and countless hours on the phone with CSRs we were fed up - and I tweeted about it.  In less than 5 minutes a CSR tweeted back saying they were sorry about the troubles, and asked what they could do to keep my business.

I have to say, I was impressed by the speed and by the cordial, helpful demeanor of the CSR.  Had we called in (again) we would have spent at least an hour on the phone...plugging and unplugging - booting and re-booting and most likely the problem would not have been solved.

I thought it was interesting that I could get the issues solved quickly and painlessly via social media, yet their larger and most used customer service operation is completely deficient and still tarnishing the image of Charter Communications.  In one interaction, @UMatter2Charter2 helped me solve our issues and, more importantly they were able to retain a customer - and not just any customer, one who tweets & blogs about it!

In my experience, the newness and novelty of social media is hard for some to process.  It is easy to keep it in it's own little cage where it can go wild and not mix with the other animals.  The lesson we have learned from Charter is to pay attention to the successes of social media and apply those concepts to other areas of our businesses. 

UPDATE: Our charter problems were solved expediently this morning by a tech.  There was a filter outside that was impeding our On Demand & Internet services.  We are happy for now...let's see what the future holds.

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  1. Interesting story. What this says to me is that social media is a powerful tool to empower the employees that really care about the company and its customers.

    It's a beautiful example of coordinating succeeding over organization. Organizing means putting infrastructure and rules in place to accomplish a certain set of tasks. This approach has inherent limits. Coordination, by comparison, means empowering a large group of folks to accomplish those tasks on their on terms (to a certain extent).

    I call this the "long tail" of customer service.

  2. I, too, have been impressed by Charter's presence on Twitter. However, I'm concerned that they may not apply the lessons learned here to their traditional customer support system. From what I can tell, their Twitter presence consists of five people; their phone centers doubtlessly employ many, many times that number and do far more to frustrate and alienate customers than help them. When, if at all, can we expect Charter to restructure their phone-in customer service to be as helpful and proactive as Eric Ketzer & Co.?